Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's Time to Talk Trash!

There is a dreadful monster lurking in the ocean. It has stayed so far away that many have ignored it. It’s so gross that it’s difficult to even talk about. It’s so dangerous that it threatens all other life in the ocean. It’s now become so prolific that its existence is impossible to ignore. It’s so big and growing so fast that it poses a threat to our own livelihood, our well-being and perhaps even our long-term survival. In no other terms, this monster is a floating landfill, the largest of which is named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is only one of five trash vortexes, or gyres, known to exist in our oceans and it is estimated to be anywhere from the size of the state of Texas to the entire continental United States. These gyres are driven by the ocean currents and full of plastic, chemical sludge and other debris. These unmanaged dumps pose a serious threat to the oceans, to marine life and to humans. As this litter breaks down and decomposes, it is ingested by the smallest life forms in the ocean and then it moves straight up the food chain, eventually reaching our own stomachs.

The real monster is not the gyres, it is our own consumption and waste patterns. Many people and groups are working hard to draw awareness and inspire action to address this problem. 5 Gyres – Understanding Plastic Pollution – is a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting research and communicating about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans as well as employing strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution.

On Saturday, November 6th, some of the world’s most informed and outspoken leaders in the area of plastic pollution are gathering in Santa Monica for a full-day TEDx sponsored discussion about the global plastic pollution crisis. Speakers include Captain Charles Moore, the seaman who became one of the first outspoken leaders drawing awareness to the problem, to Van Jones and Ed Begley, Jr. The full conference will be streamed from TED and also available on this blog. Check out the agenda here and drop by!

Watch live streaming video from tedxgp2 at

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