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The Pacific Ocean Is Polluted With Coffee

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the marianas-trench-starbucks-grand-opening dept.

Earth 294

An anonymous reader writes in with this excerpt from Inhabitat:"People aren't the only ones getting a jolt from caffeine these days; in a new study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, scientists found elevated concentrations of caffeine in the Pacific Ocean in areas off the coast of Oregon. With all those coffee drinkers in the Pacific Northwest, it should be no surprise that human waste containing caffeine would ultimately make its way through municipal water systems and out to sea – but how will the presence of caffeine in our oceans affect human health and natural ecosystems?"

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294 comments

Bet Ya (2)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | about 2 years ago | (#40901919)

if you check closelyy enough,most other waterways are,too

Re:Bet Ya (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#40902221)

Caffeine in the water? This should be a wake up call!

Re:Bet Ya (5, Funny)

klingers48 (968406) | about 2 years ago | (#40902351)

The worst we'll probably see is mackerel that can outrun fishing trawlers.

Good for them I say.

How come the water don't smell like coffee? (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#40902499)

If the title is true, that the Pacific Ocean is polluted with coffee, why don't the Pacific Ocean smell like a super giant pot of coffee ?
 
Remember, Caffeine doesn't only come from Coffee, tea - oh yes, TEA has caffeine, as well as Jolt Cola
 

Caffeinated Fish (2)

Mawen (317927) | about 2 years ago | (#40901931)

The fishies will be swimming stupidly faster with more energy!

Re:Caffeinated Fish (1)

MrKevvy (85565) | about 2 years ago | (#40901955)

"School of fish" is no longer just a collective noun.

Re:Caffeinated Fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902591)

Yes, now the schools of fish will be able to properly cram for mid-terms.

Re:Caffeinated Fish (5, Funny)

camperslo (704715) | about 2 years ago | (#40902031)

So that's why the dolphins are talking so fast. I can't even understand them.

Maybe the caffeine is getting some extra kick from some Japanese cesium.

So long, and thanks for (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 2 years ago | (#40902359)

all the Caffeinated Fish!

polluted is a bad word (3, Insightful)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about 2 years ago | (#40901957)

More like "engergized"?
What do you think we caffeine drinkers should call ourselves?

Re:polluted is a bad word (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902027)

Junkies.

Re:polluted is a bad word (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902045)

Faggots.

Re:polluted is a bad word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902277)

Really - this is like saying "The Pacific Ocean is Polluted with Salt". Of course, if called pollution, the implication is that, it must be "man-made" ocean salting!

Mmmmmmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40901969)

Caffeinated sushi. *drool*

Re:Mmmmmmm (0)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#40902179)

Yeah, I'd spend a mod-point on that. pretty damned funny

Amounts (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40901971)

Neither the summary nor the linked article said the amounts, but they are listed in the original paper [sciencedirect.com] . In the ocean, they found 44.7 ng/L. "Caffeine concentrations in rivers and estuaries draining to the coast measured up to 152.2 ng/L." For those who like their numbers in ppm, I believe that's .0447 ppm and .1522 ppm, respectively. Sometimes I fail at math, though.

Re:Amounts (5, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about 2 years ago | (#40902231)

In the ocean, they found 44.7 ng/L. "Caffeine concentrations in rivers and estuaries draining to the coast measured up to 152.2 ng/L." For those who like their numbers in ppm, I believe that's .0447 ppm and .1522 ppm, respectively. Sometimes I fail at math, though.

Serious question: Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance... were they expecting 0g / L?
What is the natural amount of ocean water caffeine; otherwise it is hard to judge the extent of the impact.

Re:Amounts (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40902305)

Good question, I couldn't find the answer in the abstract. Maybe you'd like to purchase the full paper and let us know? :)

The water coming out of the rivers is significantly higher in caffeine levels though, which would indicate that something on the land is adding caffeine to the ocean. This study didn't estimate the amount that was coming from various sources, that requires further study.

Re:Amounts (5, Informative)

jkflying (2190798) | about 2 years ago | (#40902535)

The paper lists the North Sea as having between 2 and 16 ng/L. Mediterranean was below 5, Hawaii below 10. Guanabara Bay (Rio) was between 137 and 147. Halifax, Pictou, and Cocagne watersheds (Canada) was between 0 and 1400. Jamaica Bay, NY ranged from 0 - 5000 ng/L. So this is actually pretty low compared to what has been measured in other places, but obviously higher than than plain, untouched seawater.

Re:Amounts (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40902551)

The paper lists the North Sea as having between 2 and 16 ng/L.

Really? Are you sure? Because the abstract reports 8.5 ng/L as the lowest concentration they can detect.

Re:Amounts (5, Informative)

jkflying (2190798) | about 2 years ago | (#40902611)

Hey, I'm just quoting the paper. These amounts are referenced from other papers, which may have been using different techniques for measuring the concentrations.
Here's the North Sea one: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021967301005295 [sciencedirect.com]
Here's the Mediterranean: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es020125z [acs.org]
Here's Hawaii: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X10001839 [sciencedirect.com]

Re:Amounts (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#40902437)

From TFA:

Caffeine concentrations in nanopure water (blank) were 2.5 ng/L (SD = 2.0 ng/L). The reporting limit for caffeine was adjusted to account for blank detection. The adjusted reporting limit was determined by adding three times the standard deviation to the mean blank caffeine concentration (8.5 ng/L)[...]Coastal ocean samples from Coos Bay/North Bend and Astoria/Warrenton, two of the most populated areas on the Oregon Coast, both had caffeine concentrations below the reporting limit.

So they did find ocean water with a concentration below the limit of detection.

Re:Amounts (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 2 years ago | (#40902441)

Article says it's 2 ng/L in the North Sea. Where is the North Sea? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea [wikipedia.org]

Highlights: Caffeine was detected in Oregon coastal ocean waters measuring up to 44.7 ng/L. Caffeine concentration did not correspond with human population density and pollution sources. Caffeine concentrations corresponded with storm event occurrence. Caffeine concentrations in rivers and estuaries draining to the coast measured up to 152.2 ng/L.

Re:Amounts (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#40902485)

So in fact the summary is completely nonsensical?

How could this happen on /. of all places?

Re:Amounts (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#40902451)

Argh, I forgot: You never find 0 in analytical chemistry. You determine your limit of detection (the mean value in the blanks plus three times the standard deviation of the value in the blanks), which is the signal where you can confidently state the the compound is present.

Re:Amounts (1)

Lord Maud'Dib (611577) | about 2 years ago | (#40902619)

Yes, and Limit of Quantification (LOQ) is 10 times SD. In the range quoted they'd have RSD's on the order of 20-30% (according to Horwitz Horn).

Re:Amounts (4, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | about 2 years ago | (#40902291)

By comparison, an average cup of coffee contains roughly 100mg, or a concentration of 400,000,000 ng/L.

Re:Amounts (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#40902465)

Please reframe your numbers using some useful metric - something like Filet-O-Fish/day.

Re:Amounts (5, Funny)

Namarrgon (105036) | about 2 years ago | (#40902541)

That would be equivalent to 0.00277 fully-loaded 747s per Olympic swimming pool.

Re:Amounts (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about 2 years ago | (#40902609)

Of course the idea is that most of this actually doesn't get pissed away... Otherwise we wouldn't have a reason to drink it in the first place.

Good to know though, my daily dose of painkillers brings me to three average cups of coffee, in addition to the zero I usually drink. The next time my doctor asks me if I drink coffee I'll have to consider my answer.

Which is also a good reminder that coffee is far from the only source of caffeine these days. Energy drinks, tea, painkillers, hell some kids even eat caffeine pills to help with studying.

Re:Amounts (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40902321)

Also, someone should mention, in answer to the question, "how will the presence of caffeine in our oceans affect human health and natural ecosystems?" It won't, caffeine levels at .1522ppm are unlikely to affect the ecosystem in any way, it is such a small concentration. Betteridge's law still stands.

Fish are much more sensitive to some things (4, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | about 2 years ago | (#40902373)

There are chemicals that can kill fish at 3 parts per billion. There are other things like salt that don't bother them as much, but it's really variable.

However, as other people have pointed out, there are lots of other chemicals getting dumped into the water system, including things like cocaine and prozac that have been processed through humans first. With caffeine, humans metabolize it so you wouldn't get much left, but there's all the caffeine in coffee grounds and waste coffee and soda.

And it is Portland.

Re:Fish are much more sensitive to some things (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40902563)

There are chemicals that can kill fish at 3 parts per billion.

OK, some people have corrected my math, the correct number is 152 parts per trillion at the maximum measured, so those fish are safe.

Re:Amounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902327)

I'm afraid you do fail at the math - you forgot to take into account that there are 1000g in 1L of water.

It is actually 44.7 and 152 ppt (parts per trillion), or 0.0000447 and 0.000152 ppm.

These days you can detect absurdly small traces of things, so you can find anything in anything.

Sixty million tons of caffeine (0)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#40902357)

In the ocean, they found 44.7 ng/L.

The ocean contains about 1.3e9 km^3 or 1.3e21 liters. So 44.7e-9 * 1.3e21 = 5.8e13. That is about sixty million tons of pure caffeine. I don't believe it.

Re:Sixty million tons of caffeine (4, Insightful)

neyla (2455118) | about 2 years ago | (#40902533)

First, you're off by a factor of thousand, so it'd really be sixty thousand tons, not sixty million tons.

Second -- this was the higherst concentration they found, in one small area of the ocean -- they are *not* saying the entire ocean has that much coffeine in it, indeed they sampled other places and found nothing (i.e. the concentration was below their limit of detection)

Re:Amounts (4, Interesting)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 2 years ago | (#40902367)

I believe that you're off by a factor of a thousand. A liter is a kilogram of water, so a nanogram per liter is one part per trillion, or million million as the Brits like to say.

One hundred parts per trillion is rather difficult to measure, but these folks have found a way to do it.

The question is: will a concentration that low have any effect on sea life?

I'm still confused (1)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | about 2 years ago | (#40902491)

How many libraries of congress is that, exactly?

Re:I'm still confused (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | about 2 years ago | (#40902557)

Dunno; how much coffee do they usually drink in the LoC?

Re:I'm still confused (2)

Havenwar (867124) | about 2 years ago | (#40902621)

Depends on how early in the day they run out of whiskey.

Now I know why ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40901983)

Fishermen bounce their lures up and down. Jittery fish!

I have a hard time believing (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#40902005)

that human coffe/tea consumption and pee will have an effect on the world's oceans.

Other human activities, yes, definitely. But not this.

Re:I have a hard time believing (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#40902083)

Exactly.

A liter of espresso may contain as much as 2254 milligrams of caffeine. But when filtered through a human gut 5 to 10 milligrams/liter in urine is the usual norm for a three cup a day coffee drinker.

Re:I have a hard time believing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902153)

Except its not just the human gut filtered coffee being dumped. Its also the used coffee grounds.

Re:I have a hard time believing (2)

osu-neko (2604) | about 2 years ago | (#40902203)

A liter of espresso may contain as much as 2254 milligrams of caffeine. But when filtered through a human gut 5 to 10 milligrams/liter in urine is the usual norm for a three cup a day coffee drinker.

And do you filter your left-over coffee grounds through your gut, too?

Re:I have a hard time believing (4, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | about 2 years ago | (#40902273)

You mean, you don't?

Re:I have a hard time believing (2)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#40902137)

Think of the effect it'll have on Schneier's Friday squid blogging!

Re:I have a hard time believing (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#40902139)

that human coffe/tea consumption and pee will have an effect on the world's oceans.

Other human activities, yes, definitely. But not this.

It's a positive affect. Caffeine addiction with fish comes in handy. Just pour a shot of expresso in the water and it's like chumming for sharks. I've heard just waving a Starbucks label over the water will make the fish go bananas. I'd be careful about making them go cold turkey. The fish could get pretty surly.

Re:I have a hard time believing (2)

styrotech (136124) | about 2 years ago | (#40902313)

The fish could get pretty surly.

As long as they don't get ill-tempered everything should be ok.

Re:I have a hard time believing (5, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about 2 years ago | (#40902259)

that human coffe/tea consumption and pee will have an effect on the world's oceans.

Q: Why did the hipster burn his lips drinking his coffee/tea?

A: He wanted to drink it before it was cool...

Oh Noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902009)

I can only hope it is not as catastrophic as global warming has been on our ecosystem... Hahaha! /me puts
more styrofoam on the fire to combat the observed cooling trends.

Decidious

Synthetic Drugs? (5, Insightful)

bdabautcb (1040566) | about 2 years ago | (#40902021)

While this is not surprising and questionably news, I am a little more worried about the years and years of synthetic, biologically active drugs in the water. Birth control hormones don't exactly just disappear after you swallow them, and I know that they and other classes of petroleum based drugs have shown hormonal activity not only in mammals, but amphibians, fish, and birds. Though a world with huge breasted marine mammals would be cool, I am more concerned about the chemicals other than coffee that are following the same pathways and reaching the entire world. Miles deep into the ocean, thousands of miles through the atmosphere, there is really no where on the planet that has not been affected in at least a minor way by the expansion of human industry.

Metabolites and half lifes (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#40902025)

Wiki says [wikipedia.org]

Caffeine is metabolized in the liver by the cytochrome P450 oxidase enzyme system (to be specific, the 1A2 isozyme) into three metabolic dimethylxanthines. Further, In healthy adults, caffeine's half-life has been measured with a range of results. Some measures get 4.9 hours, and others are at around 6 hours.

Therefore, it seems unlikely that the source of caffeine in the ocean is from human waste, since the time spent in the gut exceeds the half-life of caffeine, and when metabolized, its no longer caffeine. There is of course still some small remaining un-metabolized caffeine in urine. A liter of espresso may contain as much as 2254 milligrams of caffeine. But when filtered through a human gut 5 to 10 milligrams/liter in urine is unusual, and 15mg/l gets you bounced from most sports programs as a sign of abuse.

It seems far more likely that the coffee poured out by restaurants, offices, and households, and the disposed of grounds being used for compost and gardening are a larger source than what comes out in the urine stream. Also the water Decaffeination processes is the source of the excess caffeine in city sewage, even though caffeine thus recovered can be marketed into the soft drink business, not all small operations bother with that.

Quoting the first linked source:

Caffeine occurrence and concentrations in seawater did not correspond with pollution threats from population density and point and non-point sources, but did correspond with storm event occurrence.

So it seems to me that the caffeine is just as likely entirely natural, perhaps produced in very low quantities by some naturally occurring plants in the predominantly coniferous temperate rain forests of the area, rather than by any human activity or byproduct. Such a low production would leach out into streams and rivers during storms, but not from municipal sewers, and hence would not correspond to population density.

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#40902049)

Sorry, wiki only says the bit about:

Caffeine is metabolized in the liver by the cytochrome P450 oxidase enzyme system (to be specific, the 1A2 isozyme) into three metabolic dimethylxanthines. Further, In healthy adults, caffeine's half-life has been measured with a range of results. Some measures get 4.9 hours, and others are at around 6 hours

The rest was my posting error.

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (1)

idontusenumbers (1367883) | about 2 years ago | (#40902099)

Wouldn't you piss out what isn't metabolized? People pee usually before the 6 hour half-life is up, which would leave around half the caffeine left, no?

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#40902155)

What you pee isn't what you drink. There would be more caffeine in the feces than in the urine. Besides, both would pale in comparison to the quantity of undrunk coffee that gets poured down drains, the grounds that get used as fertilizer, and the coffee that falls overboard in shipping containers during maritime accidents.

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40902289)

There would be more caffeine in the feces than in the urine. Besides, both would pale in comparison to the quantity of undrunk coffee that gets poured down drains, the grounds that get used as fertilizer, and the coffee that falls overboard in shipping containers during maritime accidents.

I'm really wondering when you get these numbers. Did you really just make them up?

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#40902107)

A refreshing voice of sanity in the vast [be]wilderness of conniving tea-drinkers and corrupted decaf peddlers!

What plants. (1)

neoshroom (324937) | about 2 years ago | (#40902385)

This got me curious.

Apparently, according to different sources 50-100 plants produce caffeine in varying amounts, which makes sense as caffeine is an effective herbicide if you aren't trying to ward off primates with an inflated sense of self-importance.

Narrowing to California, the first species I found that California clearly has was the leaves and flowers of orange trees, though the only exact number I could find was "caffeine is found at concentration levels of 11-17. 5 milligrams per liter, mostly in citrus flowers.” California is a big orange-growing state though.

The other option I found was holly. Southeastern US varieties of holly are quite potent caffeine producers. Indeed, apparently ancient people's used to drink them like we drink coffee. [latimes.com] I've seen these caffeine-rich recommended to Californians to use as hedges on some sites and while the zone map [willisorchards.com] for the plant includes California I couldn't find out any info on how widespread the plant is in that region.

I wonder what other plants are rich in caffeine and also if normal plant leaf decomposition could get that caffeine into the water supply?

Re:What plants. (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#40902407)

Holly grows in the wild in Washington State, and I suspect, Oregon. But it is never plentiful or concentrated. I rather suspect it's some unassuming ground plant that nobody pays any attention to.

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (1)

Vegan Cyclist (1650427) | about 2 years ago | (#40902395)

I'm guessing the pollution is not from urine, but all the coffee (and other caffeinated products) that are poured down the sink...?

Re:Metabolites and half lifes (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 2 years ago | (#40902577)

this is of course ot but must say this: I am shocked - a post that is written with brains and calm seemingly based on real information and actual thinking. Not a common feat on /. and in general population!!!

I blame Starbucks (0, Troll)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40902033)

Everybody wants to appear cool on the coast, so they buy coffee from Starbucks. Then they take a sip and find out that 'burnt' is not a pleasant flavor. The remainder gets pitched and winds up...

In the ocean.

The cup then gets refilled with something more to the American coffee drinker's palate, like McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, or 7-11.

Re:I blame Starbucks (0)

mortonda (5175) | about 2 years ago | (#40902325)

This. Well, there's even better coffee than your examples, but Starbucks is by far the worst coffee ever.

Re:I blame Starbucks (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#40902569)

Poor trolling or advanced irony ... I'm not sure ???

Seattle has a good reputation for coffee - right up there with cities like Rome, Vienna, Buenos Aires and my home town of Melbourne.

We closed 16 of our Starbucks that couldn't turn a profit and you'd have to be insane to drink coffee from McDonalds, DD or 7-11 given the other choices. I'd assume the same in Seattle and Pacific NW in general.

So trolling Starbucks or being ironic about the others ... not sure !

Starbucks (-1, Troll)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#40902039)

I know I'll probably get modded troll for this, but good luck separating liberals in California from Starbucks!

Personally I've never acquired a taste for coffee. I know it has a few health benefits, but it's just too bitter.

Re:Starbucks (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902061)

I think there's a better chance of you being modded "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Re:Starbucks (1)

bdabautcb (1040566) | about 2 years ago | (#40902163)

If I had mod points, I would mod you +1 Thank You for modding somebody "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Re:Starbucks (1)

Krneki (1192201) | about 2 years ago | (#40902539)

Ms. Slashdot, add a custom mod option where we enter what we wont.

Re:Starbucks (5, Funny)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about 2 years ago | (#40902079)

I know it has a few health benefits, but it's just too bitter.

One benefit is making you think "bitter" is tasty. The second, and more important one, is the prevention of lack-of-coffee headaches.

Re:Starbucks (5, Insightful)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#40902117)

Translation:

I know I'll probably get modded troll for this but good luck separating [people I'm the opposite of, and hold distain for] in [state below the states being written about] from [place I heard is attached to the object in the issue].

Personally I've never [insert way of using the object in question]. I know it has [something obvious about nearly everything], but [insert something only vaguely related to the object in question].

Re:Starbucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902159)

Well done. Now you just have to create a version that applies to just about anything and you'll see how retarded left vs right/liberals vs conservatives politics are.

[insert description of some problem here]. It's all the fault of those [people I'm opposite of, and hold disdain for]! They always ruin everything!

Oh fsck'n no! (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#40902043)

You know, I thought things were going too far when I began seeing Starbucks on every street corner, and now I hear they're in the Pacific Ocean too! Fucking progress! Maybe some of the plastic islands and BP oil-globs will absorb the coffee and save the whales from the jitters. I must confess though, I'd like to see a porpoise after a few dozen shots of espresso.

~ Comment copy & pasted from original "anonymous" submission

WE'RE VERY AWAKE DOWN HERE GUYS! VERY!!! (4, Funny)

Chas (5144) | about 2 years ago | (#40902047)

*TWITCH!*TWITCH*

I'd like to swim upstream and spawn, but the last time I tried it, I wound up in Lake Erie! Eww! And MAN is the wind cold at supersonic speeds!

It took me almost a week to swim home! It would have happened faster, but I ran out of caffeine two-days from home. Hawaii was nice though.

Now where was I?

Oh yeah.

WE'RE VERY AWAKE DOWN HERE GUYS!

Re:WE'RE VERY AWAKE DOWN HERE GUYS! VERY!!! (2)

Mjlner (609829) | about 2 years ago | (#40902537)

WE'RE VERY AWAKE DOWN HERE GUYS!

Just watch out for the sharks with frickin' lasers ON FRICKIN' CAFFEINE!!!

This made me laugh (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 2 years ago | (#40902057)

I could only read it and helplessly chuckle to myself thinking "Why, of course it is!".

Easy Fix (-1, Troll)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#40902077)

Kill All Humans

It's what Bender would suggest.

More than likely this will go nowhere and end up meaning little.

However, if one of the green groups gets traction with it, huge amounts of taxpayer money and reams of regulations will go into "Starbucks-abatement" programs.

Maybe we can even get another government-mandated toilet re-design. The last one accomplished a lot. Like making sure US Border Agents are spending time searching through semi's full of toilets from Mexico to make sure they are compliant with US regulations.

I guess we can now thank the US Government for the rise of Mexican illegal-toilet cartels.

Don't ask what they shoot you with.

Strat

What about the rest? (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 2 years ago | (#40902105)

how will the presence of caffeine in our oceans affect human health

Apparently quite positively:
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-coffee-consumption-inversely-common-skin.html [medicalxpress.com]
What's more disturbing is the presence of all [everythinglubbock.com] the other [msn.com] chemicals [nationalgeographic.com] - antibiotics, illegal drugs, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.

Uh (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 2 years ago | (#40902131)

It won't. Poison is all about the dosage. There's a LOT of water, and not much caffeine compared to that much water. Also, caffeine only works because it interfaces with specific receptors in our brains. It probably affects other mammals, but is not going to affect random fish or other aquatic life.

Re:Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902383)

There's a LOT of water, and not much caffeine compared to that much water.

Translation: "guys, come on, hurry up, we have to do better... need to piss more caffeine for that much water"

BS (5, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40902143)

Not buying it.

An 8 oz cup of coffee is 236.5 ml and has 49mg of caffeine. Assume the entire thing was thrown away undrunk at all. The population of portland is about 600k. If we assume that everyone in portland throws away one full cup of coffee every day for 100 years and that every drop ends up in the ocean, that's 21.9b cups of coffee or approx 1 billion grams of caffeine.

100 years is plenty of time to diffuse. Its also plenty of times for caffeine to break down but less assume this were magic caffeine and so lasted the 100 years perfectly intact. Since they say the pacific ocean lets say none of it leaves the pacific for the other oceans. The pacific ocean is 7.721473366 × 10^21 liters. So cross multiplying (7.721473366 × 10^21× ) x (.049 g) / (.2365 l) us that that we are 1.6x10^20 grams so your billion grams falls 1.6x10^11 short. OK well lets assume that in addition to not breaking down it also doesn't diffuse. The Pacific is 361.1m kilometers in area. So lets assume that all the coffee hangs out for the entire century in the 2 kilometers nearest Portland, we still are short by 3 full orders of magnitude.

There is no way a bunch of 600k humans use enough coffee for the ocean to notice.

Re:BS (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#40902241)

while i agree with your calculations i have to say tea would be better for Portland it being the home of stash tea, and tazo. If your going to name a Pacific Northwest city known for coffee it should have been Seattle they are the home of Starbucks, Seatles Best, and Tully's coffee.

Re:BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902249)

Not buying it.

An 8 oz cup of coffee is 236.5 ml and has 49mg of caffeine. Assume the entire thing was thrown away undrunk at all.

Where do you think they threw the grounds?

Re:BS (1)

darthdavid (835069) | about 2 years ago | (#40902315)

Where do you think they threw the grounds?

Either A) a compost heap or B) a landfill, neither one of which should see anything going into the ocean unless something's gone very wrong with the whole process. Assuming you dump your coffee grounds into a garbage disposal or flush them down your toilet or whatever asinine thing that still shouldn't lead to much of anything making it into the ocean unless we're dumping raw sewage into the Pacific now...

Re:BS (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#40902345)

During brewing most of the caffeine is extracted. The strongest grounds are 150mg of caffeine per tbsp. Generally it is 1 tbsp per 8 oz of water. But again I'll be generous and assume they all use the strongest grounds and 2x as much grounds as they should. OK that gets them up to 6x my numbers. Now what?

Re:BS (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902389)

Bear in mind that this is "in waters off Oregon". That does NOT mean that the caffeine level measured there is representative of a uniform distribution throughout the entire ocean volume. While there is diffusion, it's not that fast. What's being seen is localized concentrations of caffeine, and that's a marker for other kinds of pollutants which are associated with it....pesticides, drug residues, etc. It's entirely plausible that you'd see such measurements in estuaries, river mouths and locations near population centers.

HA (1)

seansobes (1691592) | about 2 years ago | (#40902177)

All the unemployed people drink a lot of coffee because they can't afford to eat. I know because I live this type of life.

Re:HA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902515)

Isn't that like burning a hole into your stomach?

Great! Now the sharks really won't ever sleep. (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 2 years ago | (#40902215)

Let's hope nobody dumps a bunch of frickin' lasers in the ocean too.

Oblig. (1)

srussia (884021) | about 2 years ago | (#40902271)

Ill-Tempered Sea Bass!

Unlikely (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#40902317)

It's more likely that Starbucks set up a Spy-Who-Loved-Me-esque [wikipedia.org] secret under-sea base that serves as a combination processing plant where Jaws grinds beans for less than minimum wage and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos resides in a luxury suite off-shore tax haven.

TFA goes on to note that high levels of caffeine have been detected in Boston Harbor, but they're not suggesting any link between the levels and the tea party.The whole article is dubious, given that it consists of four whopping paragraphs and two stock photos (one of some plastic bags underwater someplace that sure doesn't look like the Oregon coast to me, and the other a closeup of someone's coffee) that take up more of the page than the actual body of the "article," which has no journalistic merit whatsoever. The actual paper that this all comes from is behind a paywall that wants $40. Nothing to see here... move along...

ah, now I get it (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 2 years ago | (#40902379)

This explains Dory from Finding Nemo.

Oh great, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902397)

another case of /. going fucking berserk over a horribly-written, patently false claim disguised as science. Read the article, better yet do a bit of research as some folks already have (read some other posts here), and see the steaming pile of crap that this 'story' is.

I know the /. gods will smite me down for seeming like a troll, but I'm tired of being quiet just because somebody doesn't like my opinion. Oh well.

Weed-Head Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902409)

So, given Obama's well known addiction love of cannabis a detection of cannabis compounds in Potomac River water would surely explain his bizarre behavior as President.

LOL

 

obligatory (1)

petsounds (593538) | about 2 years ago | (#40902481)

sharks with frickin' lasers...after a quad-shot of espresso

Surely the elevated levels of caffeine (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40902489)

Surely the elevated levels of caffeine in the ocean .... must be a wake-up call!

This is merely viral marketing (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about 2 years ago | (#40902525)

Next thing you know mermaids [imageshack.us] will be serving coffee on every street corner.

Hardware Backdooring Is Practical (news + pdf) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902529)

* Hardware Backdooring Is Practical

- The News (HTML):
http://news.techworld.com/security/3372954/ [techworld.com]

- The Paper (PDF):
http://www.toucan-system.com/research/blackhat2012_brossard_hardware_backdooring.pdf [toucan-system.com]

From Cryptome: http://cryptome.org/ [cryptome.org]

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