Title: Plastic Ocean
Review: You can argue about the environment, whether the crisis is manmade or natural, and what we should do about it until you are blue in the face. The problem most of the green movement is faith based and is actually volatile to true science. But trash is an exception. Trash is clearly a man-made object, and as humans we are terrible at disposing of it in a consistent, efficient, and clean manner. Any walk about your community or even a local nature area will demonstrate how we fail at this, with litter accumulating everywhere you look.
But this book is not about trash in general, rather it focuses on the world of disposable plastic and how it works it way into our water supply, especially the Pacific Ocean. Captain Moore starts out talking about sailing with his family as a youth and experiencing clean oceans; that it would be rare to see any floating trash. Fast forward to getting stuck in the gyre (I am not an ocean guy, but I took this to mean the part of the ocean that is not in the currents, thus relatively “trapped” sections the size of very large states) and noticing lots of debris; mainly plastic as it tends to float. This began the personal mission that would fill up his life; Why is there so much plastic in the ocean, and where did it come from?
The mistakes I think most people make when talking about plastic is they believe it is easily recyclable. The truth is a lot more complicated as you cannot take a bottle and make another bottle; rather you make something less down the chain. And that all plastic is recyclable while the truth is there are thousands of varieties of plastic and more being invented all the time. Also plastic never really breaks down, it just becomes small and smaller insomuch sea creatures begin ingesting it, and then so do we. And the sheer volume of plastic in our world today is staggering. I am sitting here using a chair, computer, keyboard, Ipod, water bottle, watch, desk, phone all containing plastic materials right now. Even my shirt buttons are plastic. It is truly everywhere.
We are literally killing ourselves with plastic in our disposable age, and it seems no one cares. No when I read this book I do come away with the desire to completely remove all plastics from life, besides that would be impossible. Take travel for instance, you would be unable to drive a car or take an airplane anymore. In situations like these I look to the pragmatic steps we can take right now. Number one plastic polluter – disposable shopping bags. We can all take steps to reduce our usage right there for a start. Then start looking for more areas where plastic makes inroads to your disposable lifestyle and start implementing small changes. Use real dishes and utensils, buy products based on less packaging material or even non-plastic materials, buy larger size containers of items you do use that the non-plastic choice isn’t readily available (i.e shampoo, etc), and please, please, please clean up your own mess and your communities whenever you can.
You probably won’t change the world, but you can significantly alter your little corner of it. The only knock on the book is it is a little dry and not accessible to the average reader. When you read the book you will get the irony because Captain Moore recounts the years it took him to get more academic to be taken seriously by the scientific community. But the audience here is just regular concerned citizens and the book could have used a lot more anecdotes to fill out the statistics. For example, he mentions the sinking of a cruise ship, losing all aboard, due to the propeller getting caught in a abandon plastic fishing net only in passing. A few paragraphs on that could have awakened a whole population of cruise go-ers to the possible dangers.
Please read this book, or at least watch Captain Moore’s short video I have attached here to get a feel for his message. There are changes you could be making to create a safer world for all of us.
Quick Review: 3 ½ Stars out of 5.
Why I Read It: I had heard about this subject before and was excited to read the book when I saw it.
Where I Obtained the Book: My local library
Synopsis: A prominent seafaring environmentalist and researcher shares his shocking discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, and inspires a fundamental rethinking of the Plastic Age and a growing global health crisis.
In the summer of 1997, Charles Moore set sail from Honolulu with the sole intention of returning home after competing in a trans-Pacific race. To get to California, he and his crew took a shortcut through the seldom-traversed North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a vast "oceanic desert" where winds are slack and sailing ships languish. There, Moore realized his catamaran was surrounded by a "plastic soup." He had stumbled upon the largest garbage dump on the planet-a spiral nebula where plastic outweighed zooplankton, the ocean's food base, by a factor of six to one.
In Plastic Ocean, Moore recounts his ominous findings and unveils the secret life and hidden properties of plastics. From milk jugs to polymer molecules small enough to penetrate human skin or be unknowingly inhaled, plastic is now suspected of contributing to a host of ailments including infertility, autism, thyroid dysfunction, and some cancers. A call to action as urgent as Rachel Carson's seminal Silent Spring, Moore's sobering revelations will be embraced by activists, concerned parents, and seafaring enthusiasts concerned about the deadly impact and implications of this man made blight.
Author Biography: A third generation resident of Long Beach, California, Captain Charles Moore grew up in and on the Pacific Ocean. His father was an industrial chemist and avid sailor who took young Charles and his siblings sailing to remote destinations from Guadalupe Island to Hawaii. Charles attended the University of California at San Diego where he studied chemistry and Spanish.
After 25 years running a woodworking and finishing business, Charles founded Algalita Marine Research Institute in 1994. In 1995 he launched his purpose-designed, aluminum-hulled research vessel, Alguita, in Hobart, Tasmania, and helped organize the Australian Government's first "Coastcare" research voyage to document anthropogenic (human-caused) contamination of Australia's east coast. Upon his return to California, he became a coordinator of the State Water Resources Control Board's Volunteer Water Monitoring Steering Committee and developed chemical and bacterial monitoring methods for the Surfrider Foundation's "Blue Water Task Force." As a member of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project's Bight '98 steering committee, he realized the need for and provided a research vessel so that Mexican researchers from Baja California could participate for the first time in assessing the entire Southern California Bight along the coastline from Point Conception to San Diego.
Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita and its Captain found their true calling after a 1997 yacht race to Hawaii. On his return voyage, Captain Moore veered from the usual sea route and saw an ocean he had never known. "Every time I came on deck to survey the horizon, I saw a soap bottle, bottle cap or a shard of plastic waste bobbing by. Here I was in the middle of the ocean and there was nowhere I could go to avoid the plastic." Ever since, Captain Moore has dedicated his time and resources to understanding and remediating the ocean's plastic load. Along with collaborators from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project he developed protocols for monitoring marine and beach micro-plastics which are now used worldwide.
Other Reviews: Kirkus, Huffington Post