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Climate Change. Part 32.
2019-JAN: Collecting
plastic trash from the
"Great Pacific Garbage Patch."
Public opinion on the environment.
Climate change at the start of 2019.

Sea level rise due to Antarctic melting.
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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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About the Garbage Patches:

There are massive concentrations of mostly plastic debris floating in the oceans of the world. The most famous concentrations of debris have been collected and trapped within three areas of the North Pacific Gyre (NPG) a.k.a. the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. A Gyre is a large system of circulating ocean currents. The NPG is one of five major ocean-wide gyres in the world. 1 Two are in the Pacific, two in the Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean. There are 13 smaller gyres elsewhere in the world's oceans.

The NPG is located in a region ranging from about 135W to 155W and 35N to 42 N. 1

North Pacific Gyre 2

 

Carey Morishige of the federal U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains that much of the debris found in these areas are microplastics -- small bits of plastic (microplastics):

"... that are suspended throughout the water column. A comparison I like to use is that the debris is more like flecks of pepper floating throughout a bowl of soup, rather than a skim of fat that accumulates (or sits) on the surface. 3

There are three areas within the NPG where plastic rash is concentrated, called:

  • the "Western Garbage Patch,"
  • the "Subtropical Convergence Zone," and
  • the "Eastern Garbage Patch," a.k.a. the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." 3 It is about halfway between Hawaii and California.

According to the Office of Response and Restoration of NOAA's Marine Debris Program:

" 'Patch' is a misleading nickname, causing many to believe that these are islands of trash. Instead, the debris is spread across the surface of the water and from the surface all the way to the ocean floor. The debris ranges in size, from large abandoned fishing nets to tiny micro plastics, which are plastic pieces smaller than 5mm [0.2 inches] in size. This makes it possible to sail through some areas of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and see very little to no debris." 4

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A proposal and an attempt to clean up a garbage patch:

During 2012, Dutch student Boyan Slat, aged 18, delivered a TED speech in which he proposed the Ocean Cleanup project to remove plastic from the oceans.

Carolyn Gramling, writing for Science News, discussed the project. It involves a series of floating booms about 600 meters (1,970 feet) long that form a "U" shape. They are made made of HDPE plastic. A ship would tow the booms through the "patch," and herd pieces of plastic into a concentrated mess so that they could be more easily picked up by other vessels. The booms drag a 3-meter-long underwater skirt which will collect most of the debris that is located underwater near the surface of the ocean.

Laurent Lebreton, Ocean Cleanup’s lead oceanographer, estimated that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is spread across 1.6 million square kilometers (618,000 square miles) which is about twice the size of the State of Texas.

More than 90% of the mass of the debris is made up of pieces that are 5 centimeters (2 inches) or larger in size. These form the debris that the cleanup project is designed to collect.

Project leaders believe that once the full fleet od booms is launched, they could remove 50% of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years, and 90% by 2040.

Environmental scientist Marcus Eriksen at the Los Angeles–based nonprofit group, the 5 Gyres Institute suggests that the Ocean Cleanup project goals are over-optimistic. He suggests that much of the estimated 5 trillion bits of ocean plastic in the oceans is quickly removed from surface waters by natural forces. 5 They now lie out of reach below the booms' skirts.

Eriksen notes that 5 Gyres and other conservation organizations believe that the most effective cleanup strategy is to reduce the use of plastics worldwide.

Adam Lindquist, the director of the Healthy Harbor Initiative in of Baltimore, MD, said:

"Any tech that’s removing plastics from the ocean is a good thing. But the actual worth is getting people to take the problem more seriously, so that we can move toward real solutions -- like source reduction."

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2018-DEC: The project ran into a snag:

The Ocean Cleanup project's ship with its 2000 foot-long (610 meter) floating boom, was launched on 2018-SEP-08 from Los Angeles, CA. It headed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and its estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of trash, weighing a total of about 350 million tons (318 billion kilograms). The group planned to work there for a year. 6

Science News reported that during the Ocean Cleanup shakedown cruise:

"Wind and currents have pushed trash into the rig, but the setup hasn't’t kept the trash corralled as planned." 7

Unfortunately, the mission had to be aborted on 2019-JAN-02 because a fracture occurred near one end of the group of booms. An Ocean Cleanup representative said that on:

"Saturday, December 29th, unexpectedly, one of the tow heads, together with an 18-metre piece of floater pipe with two stabilizer frames, was found to be drifting away from the rest of Wilson. No prior indications were seen for such a thing to happen, so this came as a surprise for both the offshore crew and the engineering team onshore."

"Wilson" is the name given to the "U" shaped boom assembly.

The equipment was towed to Hawaii for repairs. They are expected to arrive there in mid January. 8

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Alternate approaches if the Ocean Cleanup projects fails:

Laurel Hamers, writing for Science News, listed four alternate methods of reducing the Garbage Patches:

  • Collect trash from rivers and streams before it gets into the ocean. The City of Baltimore, MD has such a project in place.

  • Collect trash that is deposited on ocean beaches before it has a chance to be washed away.

  • Restrict the use of plastic for single-use items, like grocery bags and plastic straws.

  • Recycle/reuse plastic. 7 A new type of plastic used to manufacture cans can be broken down chemically into its original ingredients and rebuilt multiple times. 9

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2019-JAN-15: Overview of climate change amd global emissions at the start of 2019:

Writing in The Atlantic magazine, Robinson Meyer concludes that:

"The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth." 10

There are some positive indicators:

  • The cost of wind and solar electrical generation continue to decrease.

  • The most popular luxury automobile in the U.S. is now an electric car.

However, these are overwhelmed by negative factors:

  • The amount of heat-trapping gasses entering the atmosphere drastically increased during 2018, both in the U.S. and in other countries across the world.

  • Meyer writes:

    "When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called “representative concentration pathways,” or RCPs. ... The worst case is RCP 8.5."

  • Zeke Hausfather, an analyst and climate scientist at Berkeley Earth, noted that since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 worst-case scenario in which the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Rob Jackson, an Earth scientist at Stanford University and the chair of the Global Carbon Project said:

    “That’s an inconceivable increase for global temperatures -- especially when we think about them being global average temperatures. Temperatures will be even higher in the northern latitudes, and higher over land than over the ocean."

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star 2019-JAN-28: Climate Change Deniers in Congress are fewer:

There are a total of 535 voting members in Congress: 435 representatives and 100 senators.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) has surveyed the makeup of the 116th (current) Congress following the midterm elections. They found that a total of 150 members of Congress are "climate deniers." CAPAF defined "deniers" as those who believe that:

  • Climate change is not real or is a hoax; and/or

  • Climate has always been changing and continues to do so; the Earth is just in a standard cycle of warming; and/or

  • The science around climate change is not settled; and/or

  • Since they are not scientists themselves, they cannot know for certain; and/or

  • Humans are contributing to a changing climate but are not the main contributors.

All of the deniers are Republicans. This is a reduction by 30 members from before the elections. Deniers make up 28% of current members of Congress, and almost 60% of Republican members. 11

A Monmouth University poll sampled the opinion of the U.S. public. Data was collected between NOV-09 to 12. This is shortly before the federal Government's Fourth National Climate Assessment was released and before President Donald Trump’s subsequent remarks which questioned the report. Their poll found that:

  • 78% of all U.S. adults believe that climate change is real and is adversely affecting the weather. This is an increase of 8 percentage points since late 2015.

  • For the first time, a majority (64%) of Republicans agree. This is an increase by 15 percentage points since 2015-DEC.

  • 92% of Democrats agree. This is an increase by 7 percentage points since 2015-DEC.

  • 78% of Independents agree. This is an increase by 4 percentage points since 2015-DEC.

  • Majorities of Democrats (56%), Republicans (55%), and independents (53%) do not think it is likely that Congress will act on climate change in the next few years.

  • The poll's margin of error is ~+mn~3.5 percentage points (95% confidence).

  • The authors of the poll note that:

    'The proportion of Americans who are very worried about global warming has more than tripled since its lowest point in 2011. Increasing numbers of Americans say they have personally experienced global warming and that the issue is personally important to them." 12

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2019: U.S. Gallup Poll results the state of the nation, on environment and other topics:

Gallup periodically conducts a national poll, asking the same group of questions each time. They determine the public's level of satisfaction with various aspects of life in the U.S. In the most recent poll, conducted during early 2019-JAN, the highest level of satisfaction is with the status of the U.S. military, at 78%. The lowest was the nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness, at 25%, and the nation's campaign finance laws at 20%.

Approximately in the middle was the "quality of the environment" in the U.S. at 43%. This is the lowest response to this question since this poll was first taken in 2001. 13

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2019-FEB-06: Good news for a change: A new calculation on sea level rise due to ice cliffs:

A side-effect of global warming involves the Antarctic ice cliffs collapsing into the ocean, melting, and raising the sea level around the world. This is an important threat to all of the many world's cities that are located on the shores of the oceans, and would also pose a threat to low-lying areas like the present shore line of Florida, US which would be under water.

In the recent past, computer simulations indicated that these ice cliffs would rapidly collapse, causing a major sea level rise by the end of the 21st century and beyond. A rise of 2.1 meters (almost 9 feet) by the year 2100 was recently estimated.

A group at King's College London in the UK led by Tamsin Edwards has performed a computer simulation of marine ice cliffs on the shores of Antarctica. It showed that a rapid collapse of such cliffs was very unlikely to have happened during warming spells over the past three million years. They analyzed sea level rises during the mid-Pliocene period about 3.3 to 3.0 million years ago, the most recent interglacial period from 130 to 115 thousand years ago, and the past 25 years. They predicted that the ice cliff instability will not occur in our near future, but could increase sea levels as much as 4 meters (13 feet) by the year 2200. 14

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More on this topic will be written as it inevitably becomes available.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Great Pacific garbage patch," Wikipedia, as on 2019-JAN-07, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. Image extracted from the center of a Photoshopped work by "Fangz." It is in the public domain and was downloaded at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. "How Big Is the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'? Science vs. Myth," 2013-FEB-07, at: https://response.restoration.noaa.gov/
  4. "Garbage Patches," NOAA, 2017-DEC-26, at: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/
  5. Carolyn Gramling, "A massive net is being deployed to pick up plastic in the Pacific," Science News, 2018-SEP-07, at: https://www.sciencenews.org/
  6. "The Ocean Cleanup vessel is on its way to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," Fast Company, 2018-OCT-07, at: https://www.fastcompany.com/
  7. Laurel Hamers, "4 ways to tackle ocean trash besides Ocean Cleanup’s broken system," Science News, 2019-JAN-04, at: https://www.sciencenews.org/
  8. Elanor Gison, "The Ocean Cleanup suspended as device breaks down in Pacific Ocean," De Zeen, 2019-JAN-07, at: https://www.dezeen.com/
  9. Laurel Hamers, "This plastic can be recycled over and over and over again," Science News, 2018-APR-26, at: https://www.sciencenews.org/
  10. Robinson Meyer, "Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?," The Atlantic, 2019-JAN-15, at: https://www.theatlantic.com/
  11. Sally Hardin and Claire Moser, "Climate Deniers in the 116th Congress," Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2019-JAN-28, at: https://www.americanprogressaction.org/
  12. "Climate Concerns Increase; Most Republicans Now Acknowledge Change," Mommouth University, 2018-NOV-29, at: https://www.monmouth.edu/
  13. Megan Brenan, "Americans Most Satisfied With Nation's Military, Security," Gallup, 2019-JAN-28, at: https://news.gallup.com/poll
  14. Carolyn Gramling, "Collapsing ice cliffs may not contribute to sea level rise," Science News, 2019-FEB-06, at: https://www.sciencenews.org/

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The following reports in this section that discuss environment and climate change may be of interest to you:

  • Part 1: 2013: Quotes. Background. Bay of Bengal incident. Decline in Canada's arctic ice cover.

  • Part 2: 2013/2014: Canada loses its seasons. 316 North American cities to be under water.

  • Part 3: 2013/2014: Christians, Republicans' & Democrats' beliefs differ. Volcanoes cause pauses in global warming. Americans' views on climate change.

  • Part 4: 2014/2015: How Americans viewed climate change. HFC limits. Groups abandoning ALEC. Paris Conference reaches agreement.

  • Part 5: 2016-FEB to AUG: Climate change concerns: Ocean levels rising. Displacement of animal species. Greenland glacier melting. "Third Pole" glaciers melting.

  • Part 6: 2016-SEP: Flooding on the U.S. East coast. U.S. and China ratify the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Pres. Obama: trends are "terrifying."

  • Part 7: 2016-SEP: Obama comments on warming (Con't). 31 countries ratify Paris agreement. Trump zigzags on Climate Change.

  • Part 8: 2016-Summer/Fall: Events showing that climate change is adversely affecting life on Earth

  • Part 9: 2016-OCT: Did God send Hurricane Matthew as an anti-LGBT message to humanity? Alternate opinions. Hurricane Matthew re-enters Atlantic Ocean.

  • Part 10: 2016-NOV: U.S. Costal real estate threatened. Rapid temperature rise in the Arctic. Very large poll about climate change.

  • Part 11: 2016-DEC: President-elect Trump's climate change beliefs. New heads of federal government departments. Extinction of 11 species.

  • Part 12: 2016-DEC: President-elect Trump's 16 Promised Plans on Energy and the Environment.

  • Part 13: 2017-JAN: 2016 Was The Hottest Year On Record, Ever.

  • Part 14: star 2017-JAN: Recent Climate Change Measurements!

  • Part 15:2017-JAN to APR: Climate Change Debate is Changing. What if All the Earth's Glaciers Melted?

  • Part 16: 2017-JAN to APR: Donald Trump Becomes President. EPA Foe Installed as Head of EPA! Hundreds Die During Flood in Colombia. Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Reaches New High.

  • Part 17: Studies of the Effects of Sea-level Rise in California between Now and the Year 2100.

  • Part 18: President Trump Decided that the U.S. Will Quit the Paris Agreement. Explosive Reactions to his Plan, nationally and globally.

  • Part 19: More Reactions to the U.S. Withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Record high temperatures in San Francisco and elsewhere.

  • Part 20:2017-AUG/SEP : Group of 20 summit meeting, Hurricane Harvey attacks Texas. Is climate change increasing the severity or frequency of hurricanes?

  • Part 21: 2017-SEP: 2017-SEP: Can government regulations help? U.S. record high temperatures. Did God send Hurricane Harvey to attack TX?. Hurricane Irma attacks Caribbean, FL, SC, GA. Hurricanes Jose & Maria.

  • Part 22: 2017-SEP/OCT: The most expensive recent hurricanes to attack the United States. Does God use Hurricanes to send a message? Conflicts, climate change cause rise in hunger.

  • Part 23: 2017-OCT to 2017-DEC: All UN states have signed the Paris Agreement. Government report contradicts the President. Comment by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

  • Part 24: 2018-JAN to MAY: New temperature records. President signs bill increasing research."Onion's" amusing fake news. Sea levels rising; cities under water. Climate change beliefs as function of age. Proposed Mount Trumpmore project. Volcano in Hawaii. How global warming is affecting California. Animal, Insect, & Bird Ranges Shrink. Nutrients in rice reduced. California Governor's comments.

  • Part 25: 2018-JUN & JUL: During 2018-JUN: A very few encouraging signs. Hurricanes slowing as winds increase. Changes in Antarctic ice and environment. Norway's growing season increased. A new world highest temperature. Future ocean levels.

  • Part 26: 2018-JUL: New York City reports to the UN. Impacts of humans burning up all our fossil energy. WWW.CLIMATECENTRAL.ORG's tools.
    Death Valley, CA, sets new record. Dissapearing wetlands in Louisiana. Climate change affecting Northern lands. Hurricane Florence.


  • Part 27: 2018-AUG & SEP: Dissapearing wetlands in Louisiana. Climate change affecting Northern countries. Hurricane Florence attacks the Carolinas. Pat Robinson's "Shield of Protection" doesn't work.

  • Part 28: 2018-SEP & OCT: Trump Admin. predicts: 7F temperature rise by the year 2099. Impact of climate change on women. Green Building Week & commitment. New IPCC report predicts a "Strong Risk of Crisis as early as 2040.

  • Part 29: 2018-OCT & NOV: Southern Baptist Convention downplays IPCC Report. Climate changing Fall season. Ozone layer continues to heal.
    Trump Confuses Weather & Climate.


  • Part 30: 2018-NOV: Hope for people who have no access to clean water. Trump Administration releases National Climate Assessment report. Reactions to the report.

  • Part 31: 2018-DEC: How to lie about climate change. UN head repeats warning. Major report on Arctic climate. Greenhouse gases soar. Can climate scientists be trusted?

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Copyright 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2019-JAN-10
Latest update: 2019-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson


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