3-6-2012 Pacific Ocean full of garbage and radiactivity !


Fukushima and garbage polluting Pacific Ocean

But maybe it is time to start taking the Cassandras a bit more seriously. After all, even if we are skeptical of the theories on man-made global warming, the disappearing ozone layer, mass plant and animal extinctions, rainforest destruction and all the other delightful things that are happening to the planet, at least we can all agree on one thing: few people want to inhabit a trashed home. But that is exactly what is happening, as proven by the discovery of the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a zone of trash churning in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This floating monument to our consumer lifestyles, reportedly the size Texas, should infuriate anybody who enjoys a beach vacation, which, I may safely assume, is just about everybody.
Here is an amazing account of the “patch” by Charles Moore, a sailor who helped to publicize the depressing find.
“As I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic. It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments.
“Today, if you happened to pass the contaminated zone aboard a cruise ship one starless night, you would not notice anything wrong. That is because much of the garbage is plastic that has broken down due to photodegradation. What is left has been described as a soupy polymer substance that has certainly already entered the food chain,” he wrote.
Moore continues, explaining that the problem with so much plastic in our oceans is not merely an aesthetic one:
“The potential scope of the problem is staggering. Every year some 5.5 quadrillion (5.5 x 1015) plastic pellets — about 250 billion pounds of them — are produced worldwide for use in the manufacture of plastic products. When those pellets or products degrade, break into fragments, and disperse, the pieces may also become concentrators and transporters of toxic chemicals in the marine environment. …After those organisms ingest the toxins, they are eaten in turn by fish, and so the poisons pass into the food web that leads, in some cases, to human beings. Farmers can grow pesticide-free organic produce, but can nature still produce a pollutant-free organic fish? After what I have seen first hand in the Pacific, I have my doubts,” says Moore.
But the possibility of the Pacific Ocean turning into the Plastic Ocean is mere child’s play when we consider the risk still posed by the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. The facility has been described as a “ticking time bomb” ever since it experienced a nuclear meltdown following last year’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Indeed, experts fear that in the event of another earthquake visiting northern Japan, a catastrophe of global proportions may be upon us.
Earlier this month, 72 Japanese organizations sent a petition to the United Nations requesting emergency intervention. The signatories of the document say the Japanese government is withholding critical information regarding the true extent of the situation at Fukushima. It quoted Robert Alvarez, a leading expert on spent fuel rods, as saying that Unit 4 of the damaged facility “contains Cesium-137 (Cs-137) that is equivalent to ten times the amount that was released at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Thus, if an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain, this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.”
Needless to say, the only thing separating mankind from disaster is the whim of Mother Nature. Although it was refreshing to see at least one country (the Germans have announced they are abandoning nuclear energy and pursuing a highly promising solar energy program, which is expected to provide all of their energy needs in one decade) experience a wakeup call thanks to Fukushima, the rest of the planet seems blissfully asleep in the face of a potential nuclear apocalypse. Even the United States, which just detected radioactive tuna in their food supply, continues with a business-as-usual manner.
It seems that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is offering mankind a chance, although at a very high price, to consider the extent of his actions on the planet. From millions of people walking their garbage to the dumpster every morning, to finding ways of burying our spent nuclear fuel, the planet seems to be reaching the end of its environmental rope. After all, can we honestly expect the finite planet to endlessly serve as both a Garden of Eden and Garbage Dump at the same time? Providing an answer to that question is the easy part; moving to the next level and actively pursuing a change of lifestyle is another. That will require a real change of heart, and hopefully it will not require a global catastrophe to make our predicament clear.

­Robert Bridge, RT


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