The title line above does not provide adequate space to accommodate the entire list of all the poisonous detritus that humans use the ocean as a cesspool for -- that would take an entire book -- and this post is not about the sum total discharge of noxious effluent that humans mindlessly dump into the oceans.
Rather, this piece only focuses on plastic, which long-story-short is intentionally ignored by corporate-owned mainstream media puppets and presents a much larger and more dangerous problem for humans than most folks other than scientific oceanographers are the least bit aware of...
So, what's the big deal about a little plastic in the ocean? would be the typical reaction of the under-informed and the misinformed, and the up-front answer is, succinctly for now...
There is a lot more plastic in the planet's oceans than the media cares to inform us, such as the Texas-sized 65 foot deep garbage patch in the Atlantic ocean; yes, the Atlantic also has one like the better publicized garbage patch in the Pacific, as do all the major swirling oceanic gyres...
Plastic not only breaks down, but it breaks down within as little as a one year time span...
Plastic breaks down into nefariously toxic chemicals such as PCBs, PBDEs, PAHs, the notoriously ubiquitous BPA (for chemical novices, that is really "bad stuff"), and who knows what the hell else mindless corporate fools inject into plastic (that's "proprietary info", aka "trade secrets")...
The fine micro-particulate toxic matter that survives the break down of plastic then absorbs the toxic swill of hundreds of thousands of industrial chemicals that are dumped into the oceans...
Oceanic aquatic life consumes this toxin-laden plastic swill, starting with the bottom of the food chain absorbing it and the rest of the food chain ingesting it along with phytoplankton and in the bigger-fish-eats-smaller-fish scenario...
The result is minimally -- "minimally" because there is a wide range of other adverse effects -- that the entire oceanic food chain is increasingly contaminated not just with mercury and other heavy metals, but with the concentrated poisons of plastics soaked with industrial chemicals, concentrated in the upper food chain that humans consume as "seafood"...
So, you minimize the amount of tuna you consume to minimize the amount of mercury you ingest from said tuna known to be laced with unhealthy amounts of mercury. And you wonder why the incidences of all those curious new diseases, neurological disorders, birth defects, immune disorders, and cancers are skyrocketing.
Well, it's not all due to plastics breaking down in the ocean, soaking up poisons, and then entering the human food chain. But it no doubt is an increasingly nefarious factor when combined in synergistic interactions with the polluted air, polluted water, and other toxin-laden foods we are all subjected to; never mind the barrage of toxin-laden vaccines we are all subjected to...
To emphasize and elaborate the plastics problem, we provide below a review of the book "Plastic Ocean", as well as excerpts from and links to two relevant online articles, "Huge Garbage Patch Found in Atlantic Too" and "Plastic Breaks Down in Ocean And Fast", which back up the above-noted information, plus there is a link to a site that visually depicts the plastic ocean problem at the very bottom of this post.
First, some excerpts from the article "Huge Garbage Patch Found in Atlantic Too" (link below).
Billions of bits of plastic are accumulating in a massive garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean -- a lesser known cousin to the Texas-size trash vortex in the Pacific [actually, other sources state that the Pacific patch is twice the size of Texas].
Many people have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but this issue has essentially been ignored in the Atlantic.
The [Atlantic] garbage patch sits hundreds of miles off the North American coast. Although its east-west span is unknown [?], the patch covers a region between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude -- roughly the distance from Cuba to Virginia...waves often carry plastic as deep as 65 feet below the surface.
Next, some excerpts from the article "Plastic Breaks Down in Ocean, And Fast", with a link to the full article following the excerpts.
Though ocean-borne plastic trash has a reputation as an indestructible, immortal environmental villain, scientists announced yesterday that some plastics actually decompose rapidly in the ocean. And, the researchers say, that's not a good thing.
The team's new study is the first to show that degrading plastics are leaching potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A into the seas, possibly threatening ocean animals, and us.
Left behind in the water were the same compounds detected in the ocean samples, such as styrene trimer, a polystyrene by-product, and bisphenol A, a chemical used in hard plastics such as reusable water bottles and the linings of aluminum cans.
Bisphenol A (BPA) has been shown to interfere with the reproductive systems of animals, while styrene monomer is a suspected carcinogen.
And lastly, a review of the book "Plastic Ocean" and a few of the more mind-numbing excerpts from it...with a link to find the book at a library near you.
This book, published in 2011, is about the vast expanse of plastic debris twice the size of Texas floating around in the Pacific ocean, deteriorating and being soaked with toxic chemicals and entering the food chain. The following are a few enlightening excerpts from the book, with emphasis on the word 'few', as there are many more important and disturbing facts... Note that we use brackets -- '[' and ']' -- to enclosed summarized or clarified content in our own words, but we reference the page the content is from for verification.
In [aquatic life, animals, and humans] [halogenated organic compounds and persistent organic pollutants such as DDT, PCBs, PBDEs, and PAHs absorbed by plastic] are readily absorbed but not metabolized. This means they bio-accumulate [build-up in the body], partitioning themselves into body fat and fatty organs like the liver, there to lurk indefinitely. (pages 245 through 247)
Human studies...have found correlations between higher PFC [perflourinated compounds, synthetic polymers, Teflon, Scotchguard, Gore-Tex] levels [with] early menopause, thyroid dysfunction, and ADHD, as well as...fertility problems. (page 249)
The most contaminated people ever bio-monitored [indigenous Inuit peoples of northwest Greenland, whose diet is aquatic life]...[their] babies tended to be born preterm and small, which portends developmental and neurological problems. This is a sign of endocrine disruption, of genetic blueprints being altered by subverted hormonal messaging during gestation. How do people who live as far as one can get from centers of industry become more contaminated by industrial chemicals [than those that do live in heavily polluted centers of industry]. [This is] what's so pernicious about the way we're contaminating the oceans with chemicals and the plastics that so effectively concentrate and transport them...into unsuspecting mouths. (page 251)
These creatures [up and down the aquatic food chain] would be bio-accumulating toxics from surrounding waters while reaping the multiplier effect called bio-magnification. Bio-magnification occurs when an animal's dietary intake is polluted, making for continuous dosing and accretion of toxic residues. (page 252)
Autoimmune dysfunction and chemical contamination often go together in plastic-eating seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles. Toxic compounds are weakening their defenses against microbes and natural toxins. What's insidious about this pollution is that it doesn't kill outright. It weakens and compromises physiologic systems creating vulnerabilities to disease, reproductive decline, and suboptimal health. (page 245 )
...some feed purveyors have [intentionally] blended plastic pellets into concentrated feed [as roughage for livestock, plasticized manure ends up in ocean as runoff or is spread on agricultural soils]... (page 253)
[researchers measuring off-gassing from new plastic shower curtains] logged 108 chemicals [VOCs, volatile organic compounds], noxious solvents such as benzene and toluene as well as phthalates. Prolonged exposure to many of these chemicals is associated with respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, and potential harm to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. They can also cause cancer. In concert with other well-studied household contaminants that we eat, breathe, and touch, the [synergistic] risk is amplified. (page 256)
Brominated flame retardants [BFRs]...are similar to PCBs...[Europe has] already banned all or several BFRs convinced they harm human health. Just how widely they are used in plastics is anyone's guess [because it's] proprietary information. Because they are exposed to heat, plastic casings for phones, computers, and TVs contain flame retardants [along with just about everything else including blankets, pillows, and mattresses: think, off-gassing while you sleep]. (page 257)
[while U.S. legislators do nothing to protect Americans from toxic chemicals] All [U.S. health organizations] have gone on record with concerns about suspected links between chemical [and environmental] exposures and a burgeoning array of chronic diseases and disorders [obesity, diabetes, autism, ADHD, asthma, thyroid disorders, infertility, etc.]. (page 260)
While the U.S. abides by a "proof of harm" rule, Europe applies the precautionary principle. That means [Europe's] risk analysis favors human health over the economic health of chemical producers. Europeans have measurably lighter chemical body burdens than do Americans. (page 261 )
An important note for anyone deciding to peruse the book: "Plastic Ocean" should be viewed as two books in one. The first part of the book is an almost story-like portrayal around the discovery of the Pacific garbage patch. The second part, starting at the "Bad Chemistry" chapter, is technical detail -- in layperson's terms -- on the dangers of oceanic plastic, how it breaks down, mixes with chemicals, enters the food chain, like that... Most of the above revealing excerpts came from that second section of the book, so anyone starting to read it from the front could get the wrong impression of what the book is about.
Final points to burn into your mind, if you care anything about the future well being of you and yours:
The planet is already overpopulated and the planetary population is now doubling in decreasing time spans of less than every fifty years.
The most populous nations on the planet -- China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia -- are becoming more affluent and generating more pollution, trash, plastic, and chemicals.
Emerging third world nations will also contribute to the increase in consumption and planetary trashification.
Capitalism mindlessly demands "growth" -- in a world of finite resources that have passed or are nearing peaks -- to consume increasingly more resources to produce increasingly more trash, plastic, and chemicals, to generate more profits for corporations and the wealthy.
Growth to feed the ravenous capitalistic monster is encouraged by mindless corporations and the shamelessly gluttonous wealthy, their Republican puppets, and the right wing nutjob tea party social Darwinist evangelicals of the Republican party.
Vote independent and progressive when you see a sensible alternative, but failing that, always choose non-blue-dog* democrats as the lesser of two evils in all future elections, if you care anything about the future well being of you and yours...
*Clarification on "blue dog" democrats, often referred to as "bad dogs". There are wolves-in-sheeps-clothing Democrats that are referred to as "blue dogs" because they are minimally moderate conservative middle of the roaders but worst case are "Democrat in name only". "Blue doggers" are conservatives/Republicans that for any number of reasons run for election as Dems when there is an advantage in doing so (say, in heavily Democratic regions). These blue doggers are easily identified by being on the take from the American Legislative Exchange Council (a tax-exempt shill funded and controlled by major U.S. corporations that use ALEC to influence legislative activities with money, aka "bribes") or big oil behemoths such as ExxonMobil (in 2008, ExxonMobil doled out cash to 28 Democrats of 207 total recipients), and often vote in concert with Republicans. Names of blue doggers can be found online at sites such as this one.
For a visual perspective on oceanic garbage patches, click on this link to the 5gyres.org site (gyres are gigantic down-welling whirlpools where floating trash naturally collects, breaks down, and is eventually transported downward into the deep ocean).
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