One can only speculate if Bradley Nowell, the deceased frontman of popular 90s ska punk outfit Sublime, knew about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch when he wrote the lines “I swim but I wish I’d never learned / The water’s too polluted with germs” on their hit single ‘Badfish’.
Knowingly or otherwise, the singer-songwriter foreshadowed a growing environmental tragedy which was recently highlighted again, ironically, by another disaster, the ill-fated Air France Flight 447 that crashed into the Pacific in early June? Initially, investigators thought that they had found pieces of the wreckage but later discovered that it was just plain old ocean garbage.Â
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, scientists are saying that our oceans are increasingly filled with junk – everything from large items like refrigerators and abandoned yachts to fishing nets and plastic bottles. Much of the ocean trash is plastic, which means it won’t go away for hundreds of years, if ever. And while the Air France mix-up happened in the Atlantic, these watery rubbish plots have been surfacing all over the globe.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, however, remains the largest concentration of trash in the ocean. Although its actual size is unknown – researchers have been studying it for years – some claim that it could be bigger than the continent of North America!
What is known is that the garbage, spread out over many miles, is both afloat on the ocean’s surface AND submerged deep below in the ocean’s bed. This reason alone makes the problem extremely hard to study.
So what can we do about this monumental human f*ck up? Captain Charles Moore, who discovered the garbage patch by accident in 1997 whilst sailing the Pacific, once said a cleanup effort “would bankrupt any country and kill wildlife in the nets as it went.”
Ultimately, more plastic recycling and increased use of biodegradable materials is the best hope for controlling the garbage patch. It’s a simple solution but it seems like the best we can do for now. We need to turn off the taps at the source. Less than 5% of the world’s plastic is recycled and some people buy 3-4 bottled drinks a day. With proper education on the subject, we’d be able to tackle the problem at the core.
To learn more about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and clean-up efforts by environmental activists, please log on to www.pop.ly/1pdg and watch the youtube below. Changing our behaviour is the first step and as we would imagine Bradley Nowell looking down from his cloud at his beloved ocean would go, “Are you a Badfish too?”