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

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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 135°W to 155°W and 35°N 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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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:
  2. Image extracted from the center of a Photoshopped work by "Fangz." It is in the public domain and was downloaded at:
  3. "How Big Is the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch'? Science vs. Myth," 2013-FEB-07, at:
  4. "Garbage Patches," NOAA, 2017-DEC-26, at:
  5. Carolyn Gramling, "A massive net is being deployed to pick up plastic in the Pacific," Science News, 2018-SEP-07, at:
  6. "The Ocean Cleanup vessel is on its way to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," Fast Company, 2018-OCT-07, at:
  7. Laurel Hamers, "4 ways to tackle ocean trash besides Ocean Cleanup’s broken system," Science News, 2019-JAN-04, at:
  8. Elanor Gison, "The Ocean Cleanup suspended as device breaks down in Pacific Ocean," De Zeen, 2019-JAN-07, at:
  9. Laurel Hamers, "This plastic can be recycled over and over and over again," Science News, 2018-APR-26, at:
  10. Robinson Meyer, "Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?," The Atlantic, 2019-JAN-15, at:

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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 (Continued). 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: star 2017-JAN: 2016 Was The Hottest Year On Record, Ever.

  • Part 14: star 2017-JAN: Recent climate change measurements.

  • Part 15: star 2017-JAN to APR: Climate Change beliefs are changing; more people accept it as real, and are now debating its cause.

  • 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: 2017-JAN to APR: Studies of the effects of sea-level rise in California between now and the year 2100.

  • Part 18: President Trump severs the U.S. from the Paris Accord. U.S. and world leaders react.

  • Part 19: 2017: More Reactions to the U.S. Withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

  • Part 20: star2017: Group of 20 summit meeting. Hurricane Harvey attacks Texas.Is climate change increasing the severity or frequency of hurricanes?

  • Part 21: Can government regulations help? Is Harvey a message from God? U.S. record high temperatures. Hurricane Harvey attacks Texas.
    Hurricane Irma attacks Caribbean, FL, SC, & GA.

  • 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 causes rise in hunger.

  • Part 23: All UN states have signed the Paris Agreement. Government report contradicts the President. Comment by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Temperature records broken. Some fake news about the EPA that is too good to miss.

  • Part 24: 2018-FEB to MAY: New temperature records in Toronto. 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. How global warming is affecting California. Animal, Insect, & Bird Ranges Shrink. Nutrients in rice reduced. California Governor's comments.

  • Part 25: 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.

  • Part 26: 2018-JUN: 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.

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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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