In a week during which EastEnders has portrayed parents bereaved by cot death and baby-snatching maniacs and Silent Witness has presented SSRIs as a nefarious and little heard-of class of drugs which are liable to tip users over into homicidal psychotic breaks, not to mention casual reporting of uptake of CT scans and other X-ray investigations as bombarding unsuspecting patients with untold amounts of millisieverts, I turned to Greenpeace to give a rational presentation of things scientific.
The “trash vortex” describes the tendency of flotsam and jetsam, especially plastic, in the Pacific Ocean to be drawn by prevailing currents to a location in the Central North Pacific.
Greenpeace’s website carries a dire warning of this, which we are told has drawn in debris to cover an area equivalent twice the size of Texas; although it is unclear if it is refering to a blanket mass of plastic debris, or a surface area with in excess of a certain level of plastic objects per km^2.
At the same time, a snappily-named UK-based charity has been launched to increase awareness of this. Science and Technology against Ocean Plastics (STOP) is headed by two concerned individuals called Oliver Harris (who appears to be something in management) and Robert Esdell.
STOP’s website admits that more research is undoubtedly needed. Such as, if counter arguments reported on by The Daily Telegraph are to be believed, the actual area covered.
Claims that the “Great Garbage Patch” between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas is “grossly exaggerated” said the research which reckons it is more like one per cent the size.
Further reports that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, the new research claimed.
In reality it often cannot even be seen from the deck of a passing boat, said the latest analysts from the Oregon State University professor of oceanography Angelicque White.
The scientist took part in a recent marine expedition to examine the mass of plastic that is floating in the ocean and found there was a problem.
But genuine scientific concerns are undermined by scare tactics from those proclaiming the trash patch is so big that there is more plastic than plankton in the Pacific.
Oh, well. At least Primeval was fun. Complete and utter nonsense, but fun and with fewer plotholes than Silent Witness.