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Expedition To Explore an Alaska-Sized Plastic "Island"

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the one-hundred-megatons dept.

Earth 325

Peace Corps Online writes "An expedition called Project Kaisei has departed bound for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a huge 'island' of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean estimated to be the size of Alaska (some estimates place it at ten times that size). The expedition will study the impact of the waste on marine life, and research methods to clean up the vast human-created mess in the Pacific. The BBC quotes Ryan Yerkey, the project's chief of operations: 'Every piece of trash that is left on a beach or ends up in our rivers or estuaries and washes out to the sea is an addition to the problem, so we need people to be the solution.' The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre, a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes. The rotational pattern created by the North Pacific Gyre draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including the coastal waters off North America and Japan. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region. 'You are talking about quite a bit of marine debris but it's not a solid mass,' says Yerkey. 'Twenty years from now we can't be harvesting the ocean for trash. We need to get it out but we need to also have people make those changes in their lives to stop the problem from growing and hopefully reverse the course.'"

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Wouldn't this make a good source of fossil fuel? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955129)

They should collect this in barges and burn it for fuel.

Re:Wouldn't this make a good source of fossil fuel (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955201)

If you wanted to do that, pretty much any municipal solid waste dump would be a better bet. This is more like a gigantic patch of watery plastic soup(plus, it's in the middle of the pacific, transport costs would be irksome), dense enough to cause all kinds of trouble for aquatic fauna, tenuous enough to make collection a serious hassle.

Re:Wouldn't this make a good source of fossil fuel (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955495)

If it costs less than the prevailing price of crude, then it's a go - hassles be damned!

Just look at the hassles and cost ($40/barrel) to get oil out of the oil sands in Canada. It says something about our oil supplies when paying $40/barrel to get it out of the ground is considered reasonable.

Re:Wouldn't this make a good source of fossil fuel (5, Insightful)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955725)

We (humans) caused that huge mass of plastic to form in the sea by dumping our garbage in the beach or sea and in my opinion we should also try to get it out, or at least stop in from increasing in size. The problem with modern Western society is that we are not ready to start a long term project like that unless it is profitable for us in short term. And that is something that it isn't. It would be a long term money sink with no real market value, and thats why not many seems to care. In a way it feels like we are crapping our own pants because we have more important things to do than go to the toilet.

Re:Wouldn't this make a good source of fossil fuel (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28956083)

I read somewhere that a none insignificant proportion of "sand" on a beach is actually tiny pieces of plastic and is far, far more difficult to clean up.

Quick Google found some old reports:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6570001.ece ...Northumbrian coast, every one of them was found to contain microscopic plastic fibres at densities of up to 10,000 per litre of sand. More have been discovered in plankton samples dating back to the 1960s. Already, there may be no such thing as a clean beach. ...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/05/0506_040506_oceanplastic.html

Ta

Its mostly invisible to human eye (3, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955229)

the images one conjures up reading the title is this big area filled with recognizable objects, however reading the wiki article states that the particles that comprise the bulk of the suspected pollution are too small and disperse to be imaged by satellite or aircraft.

So don't let the title fool you. While there may be occasional large pollutants its not like something your bound to spot on the horizon and just sail to it. Think about it, if it were we would have seen pictures all over the news by now.

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955375)

Which explains why I can't find it on Google Maps. Crappy title.

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (-1, Troll)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955425)

Oh come on, in this day and age of mass hysteria and chickenlittlism (new word), scientists don't have to provide proof of anything any more. If they say it, it's gospel, and no one better disagree, or they will get flogged as a heretic.

Although I do like your explanation on why no one has seen it yet except scientists. Very creative.

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (4, Insightful)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955585)

You're confusing the words that the media puts into the mouths of "scientists", with what scientists actually discover. We should be channeling our frustration at the media for the hysteria and chicken-littlism.

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955697)

Are you on crack, oh wait no you're just a troll. Do a youtube search for Great Pacific Garbage Patch, there is actual video of this stuff, the amount of area this covers is scary as shit, and even worse, the shots of cut open fish with their stomachs filled with small bits of plastic freaked the crap out of me.

But hey fuck it, it's just hysterics, lets keep dumping garbage into our oceans, there's nothing wrong with that.

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28956163)

Actually, disagreeing with scientists gets you flogged as a Christian, but that's a whole different matter

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955907)

You are aware that it is still a disgrace to have this amount of trash in the ocean even if you can't see it, aren't you?

Re:Its mostly invisible to human eye (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956233)

I was also wondering about the "island" suggestion. I listened to a recent Science Friday podcast where it was explained that the average density is a thumbnail-sized piece of plastic per cubic meter. That's pretty much invisible to the eye, yet still a high density.

Treating this seriously (3, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955433)

What is the actual density and particle size, and how near the surface is it concentrated? Although the Pacific is enormous, it might actually be possible to do something with some kind of filter system, given long enough. After all, the East Anglian fens were drained by pumps running for over 100 years, so long term projects are not exactly unheard of. Something that stops plastic and allows through fish - there's a challenge.

Re:Treating this seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955619)

stop dropping waste in water during pic-nic is too much? no really stop the idiot leaving plastic everywhere, start aggressive recycling policy and watch the ecosystem naturally recovering itself in a hundred years.

I've had enough of hearing solution like this one, proposing to continuing the offending behavior (dropping waste around) tackling the consequence and not the causes (lets' filter it!)

Re:Treating this seriously (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955757)

I didn't see where the gp suggested continuing to pollute, merely that it might be possible to clean it up.

Apparently, taking efforts to clean up our mess offends you. I think most of the rest of us agree that cleaning up after ourselves is a good thing.

Re:Wouldn't this make a good source of fossil fuel (1)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956361)

When you burn that kind of plastic, you'll get lots of dioxins produced.

I don't know about you, but I think I've already mutated enough, thank you.

Hrmm (3, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955191)

Scientists estimate that at least 30% of the bulk is made up of Collectors edition Daikatana boxes.

Re:Hrmm (4, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955321)

Scientists estimate that at least 30% of the bulk is made up of Collectors edition Daikatana boxes.

The remaining 70% is made of coffee-stained AOL disks.

"island" is that like "journalist"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955207)

So by calling him a "journalist" i am calling him an illiterate jackass who cant find his ass with both hands?

Sealand #2! (4, Funny)

rel4x (783238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955219)

Gentlemen, grab the closest hairdryer. The time has come to melt the plastic, and make our own nation!

Re:Sealand #2! (1, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955381)

Humorous tone, but couldn't it be done ? I know that the patch is really a zone of high garbage density that are not that close to each other, but couldn't we aggregate enough of them to build habitats ? Could be one hell of a T.A.Z. I am suspecting that this is one of the informal goals of this expedition of enthusiasts...

Re:Sealand #2! (1)

Dr. Hok (702268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956015)

Gentlemen, grab the closest hairdryer. The time has come to melt the plastic, and make our own nation!

Yeah, but not Sealand again. It should be something along the lines of The Raft (Neal Stephenson) or Stateless (Greg Egan).

I smell (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955221)

A redundant episode for the upcoming Futurama season.

Plastic (0)

p.harshal (906745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955233)

Plastic is no longer fantastic!

Send in Bruce Willis (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955251)

Send in Bruce Willis with a tanker full of gasoline. He'll douse the island, set it on fire and get rid of the pollution in our oceans! Everyone wins!

Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (0)

mcnazar (1231382) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955303)

Followed links from TFA but could not find any images.... intrigued to see aerial/satellite images of this.

Goes without saying that I, for one, welcome our new plastic bottle overlords

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (3, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955347)

It is not an island. It is a patch of high garbage density but not high enough to see it by satellite. I encourage reader to tag this story !island.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955377)

Followed links from TFA but could not find any images.... intrigued to see aerial/satellite images of this.

Yeah, really. Bring on the pics if it's so damn big.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (2, Informative)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955393)

If you read the wikipedia article linked on the first line of the summary, then you would have seen in the very first paragraph that "Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography."

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (0)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955499)

Who says it has to be a satellite photo. How bout just a photo from a ship, or a diver underneath this big "island". I stand with the others, I want to see images.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955739)

My guess is although the garbage is 'high density' compared to the rest of the ocean if you took a picture of this 'island' it would actually just look like a picture of the sea with a couple of plastic bottles floating in it. I doubt it looks any worse than the Solent.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956099)

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956489)

As far as I can tell, none of those pictures is actually of the purported "island" in question.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956319)

>> "Who says it has to be a satellite photo."

mcnazar:
"intrigued to see aerial/satellite images of this"

you:
"If this "island" is that big, it should be easy to get satellite images."

        -dZ.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955613)

The overwhelming majority of the "patch" is invisible, composed of very tiny particles the size of plankton. It turns out plastic actually can degrade over time -- not biodegrade, but photodegrade. When plastic floating in the ocean is bombarded with sunlight, it breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, which is what most of this garbage patch currently consists of.

I have to wonder if the "sponge effect" of the patch -- the way it absorbs high concentrations of DDT and other chemical threats to marine life -- is necessarily bad; perhaps if the patch can be removed, scrubbed, and reinserted, the levels of these chemicals in ocean waters could be lowered.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (4, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956111)

Those particles will/have become a geological marker, there's not a beach in the world where a handfull of sand does not contain them.

Re:Picture / Screenshot or it never happened (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956607)

And what about the just as toxic stuff that it releases? After all it is plastic. And usually produced with the use of toxic substances.

Yes we can! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955361)

"Twenty years from now we can't be harvesting the ocean for trash"

Why not? What's wrong with that?
Isn't it the perfect natural recycling system? We throw or trash in the water and it automatically gets shipped to this large dump. There we can just park lots of freighters next to it to grab all the resources and make more useful stuff out of it.

People have to stop being all conservative about nature and start seeing the awesome benefits we can have from just "going with the flow".

Re:Yes we can! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955955)

What? "Let's throw all the shit we have into the ocean, wait until it shows up at some remote spot, collect it, and then haul it all the way back"?

Are you serious?
Because if you are, I have this great investment opportunity! You see, I am from, Nigeria, and Yusuf Ali Bin Gabba, the wealthiest man in all of the country just died in a limousine accident. The reason why I am contacting you is the following: ...

The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0, Troll)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955365)

I have looked through all the links. If this "island" is that big, it should be easy to get satellite images.

Anyone care to provide them?

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955507)

Wait a sec, I'll fire up my satellite :-)

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0, Flamebait)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955533)

See, everyone assumes you need satellite photos. I mean this is the ocean, not deep space. And it's the surface of the ocean. Someone could just drive their boat up to the edge of this "island". Snap a few shots, and bam, instant funding for clean up. But let me know when your satellite is ready. :)

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (3, Informative)

little1973 (467075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955515)

From wikipedia: Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the water surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite images.

How about from a boat? (1, Troll)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955575)

My God, I said I read the articles and I cannot find ONE image. Not even from a dude on a canoe floating past. Someone has to have taken a picture of this somehow. And i find it hard to believe that the infrared signature of that section of ocean matches the unpolluted sections. There has to be some way to come up with some kind of image to prove that it's there.

Re:How about from a boat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955761)

There are images. A turtle being fed a plastic bag is one of them. Oh, images of the island? Divers seem to not be carrying microscopes.

Re:How about from a boat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955769)

My God, I said I read the articles and I cannot find ONE image. Not even from a dude on a canoe floating past.

Someone has to have taken a picture of this somehow. And i find it hard to believe that the infrared signature of that section of ocean matches the unpolluted sections. There has to be some way to come up with some kind of image to prove that it's there.

You find me a bloke who is out on a canoe in the middle of the bloody fucking pacific and I'll get you pictures myself. And when is the last time plastic was magically hotter than the air/water around it without being heated up separately

Re:How about from a boat? (2, Informative)

rhendershot (46429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955843)

I have to agree with GP. The reflectivity should probably be different. So some kind of satellite picture should be available. Maybe just not to us great unwashed.

Maybe it's a regional thing but I've often heard here in the midwest USA of canoe referring to "some kind of vessel". I liked the hyperbolic touch actually.

Re:How about from a boat? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955943)

What, exactly, are you expecting to see a picture of?

Seriously. If someone presented you with a picture of the ocean at the location, what would you expect to see?
=Smidge=

Re:How about from a boat? (0)

hesiod (111176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956259)

So you are asking "if someone says there is an island of trash in the middle of the ocean what do you expect to see there?" How about a freaking island of trash!?!?

Re:How about from a boat? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956401)

What if the trash was almost entirely below the surface, or in pieces too small to see in a panoramic photo of the ocean?

=Smidge=

Re:How about from a boat? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956635)

What if the trash was almost entirely below the surface, or in pieces too small to see in a panoramic photo of the ocean?

Or, as in this case, not enough trash to actually make an island the size of Alaska, but trash spread over an area the size of Alaska.

Face it, it would take more trash than we've ever made to make an island the size of Alaska. And this is just the refuse that got dumped in North Pacific-draining watersheds, which is a tiny amount of our total trash....

Re:How about from a boat? (5, Informative)

JasonBee (622390) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956479)

http://www.ted.com/talks/capt_charles_moore_on_the_seas_of_plastic.html [ted.com] Interesting stuff in here. Also good to show people who think that humans can't possibly have an "impact" on the biosphere. I can't add much to what's already in this talk...go take a peek.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955651)

Maybe only a really wise man can see it, but it's invisible to fools

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955527)

Ya, I second this request...

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (1)

aed (156746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955535)

Apparently you *haven't* looked through all the links in TFA...
Otherwise, you would have read in the Wikipedia article that "Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography." because "Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the water surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite images."

Apparently your another moron (0, Flamebait)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955601)

Normally I don't get all riled up, but every one of you idiots has mentioned the wikipedia article that says "satellite and arial" photos. Is that the only method of taking pictures of something on the surface of the ocean?

Time to step away from /. before I wreck my karma.

My apologies. (0, Flamebait)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955621)

I read my original post and I do see that I did say "satellite" images. I didn't mean "satellite", and I am sorry I flew off the handle and insulted your intelligence level.

Re:My apologies. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955649)

This is Slashdot; how could you insult anyone's intelligence level?

Re:Apparently your another moron (1)

aed (156746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955727)

Well, you literally said "....it should be easy to get satellite images.

Anyone care to provide them?"

So no reason to be surprised several people quote the Wikipedia article explaning no such images exist, including a reason as to why they don't exist.

Yes, I am the moron. (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955979)

Yes, I'll apologize again. It was stupidity on my part, and I am humbly sorry for insulting you.

Re:Yes, I am the moron. (1)

aed (156746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956423)

No need to apologize :)
(My second comment crossed your reply)
Reading it back I realize my comment was also a little more blunt than intended.

Re:Apparently your another moron (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956385)

The emperor's clothes are there, you see--they're just beneath the surface and very small.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0, Redundant)

thetroll123 (744259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955551)

The Wikipedia link in the summary says "Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography." I'd suggest that's nonsense, and it's precisely the lack of density that prevents it being noticeable as a defined area in satellite shots.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955593)

From the linked Wikipedia article:

"Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the water surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite images."

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (1, Offtopic)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956539)

And apparently it's invisible to boats and divers too. Maybe it only appears to the faithful, at sunset on Christmas Day.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955657)

Reading comprehension is complex, I know, but if you persevere you can do it!

Or were you just trying to make some snarky anti-environment statement?

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956427)

No, he's just questioning the obvious hyperbole of the OP and the article. Calling this an "island the size of Alaska" is disingenuous at best, outright alarmist propaganda at worst.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (1)

wren337 (182018) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955691)

Troll much?

"Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the water surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite images.[5] "

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0, Redundant)

MoreDruid (584251) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955745)

from the linked Wikipedia article (yeah yeah I RTFA):

Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955967)

I have looked through all the links. If this "island" is that big, it should be easy to get satellite images.

Anyone care to provide them?

It's a soup, not an island.

Re:The size of Alaska or bigger and no images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955993)

It's not really an "island." Most of the debris is floating a few inches to a few meters below the surface.

Serves a purpose (1, Funny)

will_die (586523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955463)

The plastic is not going to waste. It is protecting the inhabitant of Mu from various cosmic and ultraviolet rays.

As Arnold Rimmer would say: (1)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955581)

Nonsense. It is the remains of an ancient, not so perfectly preserved Quagaar battle fleet.

Re:As Arnold Rimmer would say: (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956283)

Quagaaaaaaaaaaaar!

Solar powered recycling? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955477)

What is the economic feasibility of building a floating recycling (hopefully solar & wind powered mostly) to gather up and process a huge stockpile of unnatural plastic reserves?

microplastics particle soup (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955481)

http://www.livescience.com/environment/071102-micro-plastics.html

"...The seas eventually break down all this plastic garbage into microscopic particles. ...
adding just a few millionths of a gram of contaminated microplastics to sediments triggered an 80 percent rise in phenanthrene accumulation in marine worms dwelling in that muck.

Such worms lie at the base of the food chain,..."

Re:microplastics particle soup (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956279)

It has always sucked to be at the bottom of the food chain.

Waiting for this argument: (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955547)

Lets just ignore it.

The problem of sea trash is fabricated by the biased media. sea trash doesn't exist. The earth has been in existence for four billion years (or six thousand years, depending on who you're asking) and sea trash hasn't hurt anything. It's just a natural cycle. There is no conclusive evidence that sea trash even exists.

People who preach about sea trash just want to give the government more power. For control. They want to control your ability to throw trash in the sea. $Diety$ gave us this planet, and $he/she/it$ didn't design it with sea trash in mind. It's unfaithful to claim that sea trash is a problem, or even exists.

Re:Waiting for this argument: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955779)

Drop the reference to $Diety$ and you've got yourself an episode of the show Bullshit!.

A New Home for TPB? (0)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955553)

If we can somehow make this island more "solid", for example by spraying insulation foam on it, and connect the new island to the Internetzwerk via home-brewn undersea cables or satellite dishes, wouldn't this make a great new home for the Pirate Bay? Which name do you think should the new nation have? IMHO, naming it "The Pirate Bay" would be appropriate, although this might create confusion with its virtual pendant on the Internetzwerk.

i just read about this on a cracked.com top 10 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955683)

it was the list of the top 10 scariest islands. is that what it took to inspire someone to actually launch an expedition out there? an article on cracked.com?

Groups are already studying this... (5, Informative)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955735)

Algalita Marine Research Foundation [algalita.org] have been studying this garbage patch in the Pacific for the last 10 years.

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28955923)

Well if it's not visible how the heck do they know it's there?

What about... (1, Interesting)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955963)

What about just having 1 humongous ship built to take care of the problem, with its front end able to open and scoop up the garbage, then compact it inside itself (like a garbage truck except a boat), and about as wide as it is long. It could just be used once in awhile, or as much as is needed, and it would crush all the garbage into small squares which could then be brought back on smaller boats to the coast and then dropped inside one of the hawaiian volcanos... I know it might be a bit costly, but it would be much quicker solution to a big problem getting bigger by the minute.

As for air dropping the garbage into a volcano, a military helicopter couild be used, the ones without a bottom, with room to pick up the square and drop it in...that is the way I see it done the quickest and cheapest solution.

Re:What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28956085)

Shampoo, is that you?

Re:What about... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956621)

If by 'the coast' you mean the western United States, it would be a goddamn lot cheaper to stick it in a landfill than it would be to ship it to Hawaii and drop it in a volcano. If it is clean enough, it could probably be recycled, maybe even for less than it would cost to landfill it.

Also, from what I have read/remembered, 'make a big ship that filters it' is not a simple activity, the particles are quite small.

Up to 10 times the size of Alaska?? (3, Insightful)

mr_gerbik (122036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28955981)

10 times the size of Alaska would make this thing about 1/10th the size of the Pacific. That is pretty huge.. and a little unbelievable.

Re:Up to 10 times the size of Alaska?? (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956227)

We need to get it out but we need to also have people make those changes in their lives to stop the problem from growing and hopefully reverse the course.

Those changes have already happened. You all know where I am going with this...

Re:Up to 10 times the size of Alaska?? (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956307)

...It's also larger than the entirety of the United States.

"Jupiter's Eye" (0)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956019)

I wonder if some planet-gazing alien species is looking at our blue planet wondering what that strange formation is... it doesn't seem to match with existing ice movements or weather patterns. Is it some weird storm? A long-slow volcanic eruption? What could it be? I guess they'll have to send bovine-exploding, anal probes down to find out for sure...

Just the Pacific? (2, Interesting)

PK Tech Guy (1310715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956039)

OK, where is the Great Atlantic Garbage patch?

Re:Just the Pacific? (4, Funny)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956229)

OK, where is the Great Atlantic Garbage patch?

New Jersey

Good name (4, Insightful)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956197)

According to Wikipedia: "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex..."

Pacific Trash Vortex would be a good name for a band.

recycle (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956213)

So, if there's that much trash, composed primarily of plastics, dispersed over a large area of the Pacific... It might make economic sense to modify a ship or two to go out there, skim it off the ocean surface (the top few feet or so) and bring it to shore. There it could be converted back to it's original form, petroleum, run through a gasification plant, or burned as-is in an incinerator for power. Even if it only breaks even with the fuel usage of the ship(s), it still solves the problem, no? (but would require government funding for operational expenses, yes). One might even consider a factory ship where processing was contained on the vessel.

The first order of business (4, Funny)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956237)

Go through and find all the messages in bottles. We've got to see if these poor guys are still alive.

Garbage Patch Kids (1)

berpi (1187131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28956403)

New brand of toys, manufactured from molten plastic harvested directly from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
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