The Great Pacific Garbage Patch may be coming to your home
When the horrible earthquake and tsunami hit Japan last March, it was devastating. People died, homes were destroyed and lives were changed forever. Unfortunately, we're just beginning to feel the devastating environmental impact of the earthquake and tsunami now. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered in 1997, it a large (as in two times the size of Texas large) island created by mostly plastic debris and garbage that has gathered in the north pacific. And now, a wall of clothing and other debris from the 2011 Japanese tragedy is adding the garbage island.
Some of that garbage debris is now threatening Hawaii and countless homes on the West Coast of the U.S. It is estimated that one to two million tons of lumber and other construction material, fishing boats and other fragments of coastal towns is being carried by Pacific ocean currents to the west.
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According to experts, debris may show up in the north of Hawaii as early as this winter with the rest hitting places like Oregon, Washington state and Alaska in 2013 and 2014. Will some of it even reach California?
At this point, there is no way to know how this will effect homes and the general well-being of the oceans, since there is no precedent for this kind of catastrophe. The debris has now floated so far that only one piece can be spotted at a time, like the refrigerator and television that were recently spotted just west of Hawaii this past September.
What I worry about most is not just the trash that will be reaching our homes but also the trash that's not reaching our homes—meaning items that will sink to the bottom of the Pacific ocean or stay in the water threatening wildlife and natural habitats for generations to come.
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Mercury in fish is already a big concern, as is plastic that breaks down but doesn't completely disappear. How is this going to affect the oceans in the long term? How will it affect wildlife and our environment? Unfortunately, we may still not have seen the worst effect of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last March.
What will you do to prepare for garbage to potentially float up to the West Coast? How do you think the globe can prevent it from getting worse?
Image via robertodevido/flickr