Dec 11 2014

How Much Trash Is Floating In Our Oceans?

Published by at 12:04 pm under All General Discussions

First off, I wish there was no trash floating in our oceans.

I think the UN should spend a chunk of its resources to fund the clean up of any floating trash. Since these are international waters, it seems it is the UN’s responsibility to maintain them.

It is disgusting when we REALLY pollute our world (as opposed the nutty “CO2 Is Poison!” meme we get from the Green Blob).

My view, we should take the IPCC funds and do something tangible with them  (and reduce the CO2 and heat from all the hot air that body produces in the process).

With that setting the stage, we have the usual hyperventilating alarmist headlines out today:

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.

[H/T Watts Up With That]

Sounds like a lot  – right? Well it took me a few minutes (literally) to assess the scope of this tonnage and a few more minutes to write this post.

But before I step to the big numbers, I want to point out 269,000 tons is about the same weight as 135 Space Shuttles, which weigh in at 2,030 tons each. Pretty good, but 269,000 tons is only 2.69 Super Carriers which weigh in (or “displace” so they can float) 100,000 tons of water.

This is a mess that needs to be addressed, but how much of the ocean does this 269,000 tons of garbage really effect?

The 1 minute google-search and calculate an approximate answer is this:

  • A cubic meter of water (since this stuff is floating) weighs 2200 pounds (or roughly 1 ton),
  • The world’s oceans cover 360 million square kilometers,
  • 1 square kilometer – 1000 square meters.
  • Convert to meters we get 360 billion square meters of ocean surface.
  • Sum the weight of water to one meter depth you get 360 billion tons of water in which floats 269,000 tons of trash.
  • Converting to percent = 0.0747% of the ocean’s top meter of water is filled with trash.

Like I said, lets raid the IPCC funds to clean this mess up – since it is a real (i.e., actual) mess

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “How Much Trash Is Floating In Our Oceans?”

  1. Dan Kurt says:

    re: “1 square kilometer – 1000 square meters.” AS

    Actually, 1 square kilometer = 1000 x 1000 square meters = 1,000,000 square meters.

    Recalculate your exercise. You you are off by a factor of 1000. There is even less of an environmental impact than you stated.

    BTW, plastic biodegrades rather fast if exposed to UV which it does if it is floating when the sun shines. Aluminum is more resistant to degradation than plastic and aluminum doesn’t last long. For example, aluminum soda cans are believed to dissolve in fresh water within 600 years and about half that time in salt water. Plastic is much less resistant to destruction than is aluminum. Nylon actually hydrolyzes rapidly which is why mountain climbers are constantly told and urged to replace nylon climbing ropes that have been used especially if they were wet during a climb as well as exposed to UV.

    Dan Kurt

  2. kathie says:

    Merry Christmas AJ to you and your family. Kathie