'250 billion' plastic fragments in Mediterranean

Dec 30, 2010
People sunbathe beside the Mediterranean on Tel Aviv beach on Monday. Some 250 billion microscopic pieces of plastic are floating in the Mediterranean, creating a biological hazard that reverberates up the food chain, according to research supported by green campaigners.

Some 250 billion microscopic pieces of plastic are floating in the Mediterranean, creating a biological hazard that reverberates up the food chain, according to research supported by green campaigners.

The estimate comes from French and Belgian who analysed water samples taken in July off France, northern Italy and Spain to a depth of 10-15 centimetres (four to six inches).

"The rough estimate is that there are roughly 250 billion pieces of micro-debris in all the Mediterranean," said Francois Galgani, of the French Institute for Exploration of the Sea (Ifremer), said.

The figure derives from 4,371 minute pieces of plastic -- average weight 1.8 milligrams (0.00006 of an ounce) -- found in the samples, "which extrapolates to roughly 500 tonnes for the entire Mediterranean," Galgani said.

Ninety percent of the samples, taken by volunteers from Expedition MED (Mediterranean in Danger) on a 17-metre (55-feet) yacht, had such fragments.

The sampling only covered surface waters and is a preliminary evaluation. Further samples, off Gibraltar, Moroccow, Algeria, Tunisa, Sardinia and southern Italy, will be taken in 2011 to get a wider picture.

Micro-sized is an enduring hazard, as it becomes mixed with , which is then ingurgitated by small fish that are then eaten by larger predators, says Expedition MED.

It says there is an accumulating pile of evidence of the damage that this does to larger forms of marine life, including seals and tortoises.

"The only solution is to stop micro-debris at the sources," said Expedition MED's Bruno Dumontet.

The group is launching an on-line petition to demand tougher European Union (EU) rules on the disposal and biodegrability of consumer goods.

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omatumr
1.9 / 5 (26) Dec 30, 2010
I agree that plastics are a threat to life on planet Earth.

Unfortunately, green campaigners have lost credibility after joining up with Al Gore, the UN 's IPCC, and scientists who fudged data to show global warming.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Noumenon
3.9 / 5 (68) Dec 30, 2010
No intelligent person buys the hysterical "cataclysmic AGW" hypothesis, especially while propagandized by the political progressives and their leftist political agenda. Old sales technique is to talk fast and make everything a dire emergency. Not working.

The green movement is a legitimate and worthy cause. Alternative energy sources will be pursued if there is profit to be had (as a natural cause),.. this will occur once oil/coal become harder to extract and prices go up. That's just the reality. Artificially causing prices to go up is economic button pushing, social engineering and is reckless.

For nuclear the government needs to get out of the way a bit. What an embarrassment that the USA is behind on this. Shameful.
omatumr
1.8 / 5 (21) Dec 30, 2010
No intelligent person buys the hysterical "cataclysmic AGW" hypothesis, especially while propagandized by the political progressives and their leftist political agenda. Old sales technique is to talk fast and make everything a dire emergency. Not working.

The green movement is a legitimate and worthy cause. Alternative energy sources will be pursued if there is profit to be had (as a natural cause),.. this will occur once oil/coal become harder to extract and prices go up. That's just the reality. Artificially causing prices to go up is economic button pushing, social engineering and is reckless.

For nuclear the government needs to get out of the way a bit. What an embarrassment that the USA is behind on this. Shameful.


I agree! And I voted for Obama. What an embarrassment!
eachus
3.3 / 5 (12) Dec 30, 2010
I think this is drawing attention to a problem that needs to be dealt with. But the picture is very misleading. (As is the article.) First 500 tons in the entire Med is literally a drop in the bucket. Worth stopping this now, but not enough currently that a cleanup is needed.

But the important point is that most of this debris is coming from homes in some cases over a thousand miles away, primarily due to plastic debris getting into the sewage systems, and from there into rivers.

Can sewage treatment plants in Europe do a better job? I think so. The other alternative is more use of biodegradable plastics.
Bear
2 / 5 (8) Dec 30, 2010
It was a good run. Guess we die. Bye.
Noumenon
4.1 / 5 (63) Dec 30, 2010
The figure derives from 4,371 minute pieces of plastic -- average weight 1.8 milligrams (0.00006 of an ounce) -- found in the samples, "which extrapolates to roughly 500 tonnes for the entire Mediterranean,"

Well, you can't extrapolate to the entire Mediterranean from samples taken off the coast of a few countries. You have to establish a gradient by sampling in a grid across the sea. The vast majority of the sea will have zero particles.
bbd
2.3 / 5 (15) Dec 30, 2010
The green movement is a legitimate and worthy cause.

Perhaps the statement "The green movement WAS a legitimate and worthy cause" is more accurate. Unfortunately, it has been hijacked by the rulers of the world (not a reference to governments here). It is now being used as a mechanism to tap into the pocket books of every simpleton and half-wit with a paycheck on the planet. One way or another, the rich will get richer and the powerful more powerful.
Noumenon
4.1 / 5 (60) Dec 30, 2010
The green movement is a legitimate and worthy cause.

Perhaps the statement "The green movement WAS a legitimate and worthy cause" is more accurate. Unfortunately, it has been hijacked by the rulers of the world (not a reference to governments here). It is now being used as a mechanism to tap into the pocket books of every simpleton and half-wit with a paycheck on the planet. One way or another, the rich will get richer and the powerful more powerful.


It's more of a political movement. Progressives want a one world governance (via UN mandates, etc), and more left leaning influence over governments. In any case it was indeed hi-jacked.

The quickest way, in developing alternatives, will be with capitalism and free market, not contrary and across the grain of that force; ... there would be two battles to fight in that case, one political and one technological, an already loosing battle.
Skepticus
1.7 / 5 (17) Dec 30, 2010
Not to worry. Humans eyesight is only good for a few miles, on location spot checks are just that, and satellite imagery is questionable. The ocean is too big for such rubbish [finds]. Go back to sleep, people. You are not in any danger from the ocean being used as a rubbish dump. It's is way too big and that fact takes care of the "problem".
Jonseer
4.2 / 5 (13) Dec 30, 2010
Scepticus should rename himself idioticus for saying the ocean is too big to pollute

Human use of the ocean is NOT spread evenly over 100% of available ocean surface.

The part we do use usually has LIMITED out and inflow from the nearbye sea.

The usable part of the ocean is a small small fraction of its total area, say about 1% on coastlines.

Add in that human settlement favors enclosed, protected bays, or along smaller seas to avoid the constant threat from weather, and make shipping and travel easier and you create a situation where the OCEAN WE USE can be overwhelmed - as in quickly multiplying dead zones on various coasts nationwide.

The entire Mediterranean depends on one small opening to the Atlantic to dilute the deluge of filth washed into it from Europe the Middle East and Africa and the Black sea.

On the scale of Eons the Ocean will do fine.

Over a human lifetime though the danger is extreme.
napdaw
5 / 5 (2) Dec 30, 2010
Not a huge surprise. Venice alone has sewers filled with garbage that goes out into the Sea... has been that way for a longtime...
if its not one thing its another. Lets just be smart and use renewable and biodegradable.
SkiSci
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 31, 2010
you're all just pansies. Screw the ocean animals, we've got aquariums. As long as I can still watch Seinfeld reruns, I'm happy. You hippies can move to Cali and smoke the devils lettuce. /sarcasm
flying_finn
4 / 5 (3) Dec 31, 2010
David Suzuki(Nature of Things) did a show about pervasive plastics in our food chain mimicking estrogen and it's effects on humans. Wonder how it effects animals?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 31, 2010
Alternative energy sources will be pursued if there is profit to be had (as a natural cause),.. this will occur once oil/coal become harder to extract and prices go up. That's just the reality. Artificially causing prices to go up is economic button pushing, social engineering and is reckless.
The US government keeps oil prices artificially low. Any increase perceived in the US is not artificial, it's expected. You cannot compare end user prices against manufacturing prices logically without including the massive subsidy from government and the support infrastructure provided by the US military. Getting off foreign oil would be a massive debt reduction tactic and would immediately balance the trade deficit. The economic incentive is already there to be had. Why aren't we making the change?
Skepticus
2.6 / 5 (12) Dec 31, 2010
Scepticus should rename himself idioticus for saying the ocean is too big to pollute...


Please check your IQ if you don't know what sarcasm is, and never bothered to check on my postings re my view on the subject...
nada
3.6 / 5 (12) Dec 31, 2010
ALL those who are pro-polution and think there is no harm to it, please post your home addresses; so I can dump my trash on YOUR lawn.

The fact that you won't shows you're just right nutjob cowards.
Noumenon
4.2 / 5 (60) Dec 31, 2010
ALL those who are pro-polution and think there is no harm to it, please post your home addresses; so I can dump my trash on YOUR lawn.

The fact that you won't shows you're just right nutjob cowards.

Who are you arguing with, a straw man? Who is pro-pollution.
Noumenon
4.3 / 5 (55) Dec 31, 2010
[...]Artificially causing prices to go up is economic button pushing, social engineering and is reckless.
The US government keeps oil prices artificially low. Any increase perceived in the US is not artificial, it's expected. You cannot compare end user prices against manufacturing prices logically without including the massive subsidy from government and the support infrastructure provided by the US military. Getting off foreign oil would be a massive debt reduction tactic and would immediately balance the trade deficit. The economic incentive is already there to be had. Why aren't we making the change?

Don't you remember me destroying you in that argument, before? You can't add all that stuff to the cost of gas. The USA is not a business, it's a country and would protect it's interesting irrespective of oil as Brittain did long before cars.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (8) Dec 31, 2010
Don't you remember me destroying you in that argument, before?
No.
You can't add all that stuff to the cost of gas.
You certainly can and in this instance, have to. If you're going to compute the cost of gasoline per gallon you need to account for all the cash that went into creating that gallon of gasoline. If you're going to compute every cost of a cap and trade bill then you must balance the equation and not work off of fabricated numbers. Total cost of doing business is crucial to understanding the rammifications of change.
The USA is not a business, it's a country and would protect it's interesting irrespective of oil as Brittain did long before cars.
That isn't a reasonable comparison.

List one item we import from Saudi Arabia or Iraq outside of oil.

Secondly Britain used those shipping lanes to import food and protect their citizens within the colonies of the UK. Our interest in the region is oil. No need for foreign oil, no more interest
geokstr
1.7 / 5 (9) Dec 31, 2010
Getting off foreign oil would be a massive debt reduction tactic and would immediately balance the trade deficit. The economic incentive is already there to be had. Why aren't we making the change?

Absolutely, but it's not within the remotest realm of possibility to "get off foreign oil" anytime soon without doing two things, fast-tracking a ton of new nuclear plants, and massive "drill, baby, drill".

To get off fossil fuels in general will take generations. If you want to do it in the short-term, get ready to commute on bikes to your buggy-whip manufacturing job. And even building that many new bikes will take decades.

There is no long-term transition plan to get us off fossil fuels, and it may not even be possible, unless there are some major cost breakthroughs in solar and wind power generation. And the enviro-freaks and NIMBY's are already out in force against turbines. Birds and bats and polar bears and other cute furries keep extincting themselves on the blades.
omatumr
1.6 / 5 (13) Dec 31, 2010
Anyway, I am pleased to be able to agree with environmentalists about the dangers of plastic, . . . but not CO2!

If it gets past the filters, here is my fragmented New Years' Greeting to all!

http://
db.tt/
iVUcMRp

Oliver K. Manuel
Burnerjack
5 / 5 (2) Dec 31, 2010
The reason we can't get away from oil is directly tied to who pays for political campaigns. Starchamber? Nah, Systemic corruption labelled "lobbying"? Yep. count on it.
We can't even get the manufacturing of frivolous plastics like shopping bags outlawed. Why? yep...
Noumenon
4.5 / 5 (51) Dec 31, 2010
@ SH,

Read geokstr's post three times, he is exactly correct.
Noumenon
4.2 / 5 (57) Dec 31, 2010
Getting off foreign oil would be a massive debt reduction tactic and would immediately balance the trade deficit. The economic incentive is already there to be had. Why aren't we making the change?

Good question, ask the democrats. About 85% of off shore drilling is under a federally mandated moratorium on drilling. You saw how reactionary the Obama Administration was after the oil spill last year, they stopped all drilling (!) with no apparent rationality. The democratic progressive environmentalists will stop drilling at every opportunity, counter to the best interest of the country. The last thing they want is lower priced oil.
Where's nuclear plants,... again, the government in the way.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.5 / 5 (4) Dec 31, 2010
I disagree with you both. A mass transit infrastructure plan would greatly reduce the use of fossil fuels if coupled with removal of fuel subsidy. It worked in Japan, Europe, China, it's starting to come to pass in India, reduction of private transportation could remove up to 30% of foreign oil use in very short order. It is a matter of a decade, not multiple generations. The social habits involved may take longer but the physical infrastructure is not as daunting a task as it appears. Especially with such a large unemployed labor force.

But this will require spending, and apparently tax and spend is a dirty word in Congress.

I strongly disagree that this should be a solar or wind based proposal or that drill baby drill is necessary. A Manhatten project style investment in nuclear is what we need and we need it yesterday.
Burnerjack
5 / 5 (4) Dec 31, 2010
Back to that "lobbying thing"...
When the common good and national interests are trumped by very narrow private interests there is a glaring problem that needs to be addressed.
Geothermal power is available almost everywhere, the US sits on huge natural gas reserves. Before we address the wants of the left or the right, we need to address the needs of the Nation with an eye on restoring prosperity by abandoning the Bretton Woods mentality and generating a positive trade balance by reducing imports.
BUT would you be willing to pay a premium for domestic fuel when foriegn sources underbid domestic suppliers?
If we are to recover economically, we need to keep the wealth from leaving the nation. When there is prosperity the is choice. Where there is choice there is freedom.
geokstr
1.4 / 5 (7) Dec 31, 2010
Do you know that there are nearly 300 million passenger cars and light trucks in this country, all of which are gasoline powered? That does not include 18-wheelers, boats, ships, airplanes, generators, heavy construction and farm equipment, military vehicles, lawn mowers, power stations, and lots more. Tens of thousands of essential products are made with oil derivatives. Everything you buy or eat or build has been produced or delivered using oil. You really think that in a decade we could be reducing our use of foreign oil by 30%?

Our population is far more dispersed than Japan or Europe, so we would have to invest proportionately more in mass transit.

A Manhatten project style investment in nuclear is what we need and we need it yesterday.

Finally, something I can agree with you on 150%.

So why can't we do both, nukes and drill? There have been major discoveries of both oil and gas in the US in the last decade. Everything needs to be on the table.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.8 / 5 (4) Dec 31, 2010
Finally, something I can agree with you on 150%.

So why can't we do both, nukes and drill? There have been major discoveries of both oil and gas in the US in the last decade. Everything needs to be on the table.
Before we resume drilling in earnst I'd personally like to see the technology used to drill evolve. We're using 50 year old tech to pump oil and we've seen the rammifications of this over and over. If you want it on the table, I want to see some R&D and I want to see the oil companies start paying taxes.

Oil is much more attractive than nuclear and other options due to the subsidies and tax breaks making the cost of doing oil business very cheap, allowing competitive edge. That has to stop. We've artificially selected the energy generation winner and they haven't substantially invested in technological improvements. That alone indicates it's time for a change from the way we've done business prior.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 31, 2010
You really think that in a decade we could be reducing our use of foreign oil by 30%?

Yes. Absolutely. 65% of our oil use is in transportation. 85% of our oil imports are used for non-commercial transportation. That's cars like yours and mine.

Would you drive if there was a flexible, efficient, and cheap transportation system? It's all about infrastructure investment. We need it now. We've let the country decay for far too long.

Finally, something I can agree with you on 150%.
Would that mean when you give me a one you half agree with me? :)
Howhot
3.1 / 5 (7) Dec 31, 2010
@Oliver K. Manuel; First post. "I agree that plastics are a threat to life on planet Earth." Hum; and then you attack people of science saying they are politically motivated to be "Green". Shame on you.

Shame on your political motivations. Shame on all those that have made you loose your science.

The Greenies are right in their science. Care to argue it?
rgwalther
3 / 5 (2) Jan 01, 2011
ALL those who are pro-polution and think there is no harm to it, please post your home addresses; so I can dump my trash on YOUR lawn.

The fact that you won't shows you're just right nutjob cowards.


You first. The problem remains the people, not the refuse.
NotParker
2 / 5 (8) Jan 02, 2011
I bet there is more than 500 tons of fish and human excrement in the meditteranean.
omatumr
1 / 5 (7) Jan 02, 2011
The Greenies are right in their science. Care to argue it?


Already did and published the findings ["Earth's Heat Source - The Sun," Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144].
rgwalther
not rated yet Jan 03, 2011
The big yellow one's the sun!!
rgwalther
3 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2011
Professor Manuel,
Thanks for your analysis. I have added Brian Regan's explanation: 'The big yellow one's the sun!, for simpler-minded people like myself.
I find the political implications of what you have shown to be extremely interesting. There are two ways to solve earth's resource problems. Solve the problems technically (quickly!) or reduce the population. Of course any 'reduction' in population does not include those implementing said reduction.
Individual people can be pretty cool, but the human race is insane(I know, meaningless legal term). Politicians and other clerics have always know the nature of humanity.
Our leaders, informed, visible or otherwise, do not view favorably a future determined by what is essentially an uncontrolled virus. If the problem is galactic, then remedy is insoluble. If the problem is human...Well, we do have history.
Howhot
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2011
Anyway, I am pleased to be able to agree with environmentalists about the dangers of plastic, . . . but not CO2!

If it gets past the filters, here is my fragmented New Years' Greeting to all!

http://
db.tt/
iVUcMRp

Oliver K. Manuel


Yeap. Oliver, I really do respect your input into the debate on Global Warming; But everything you say is crap! Its all politically motivated by right-wing fund raiser mailings. Seriously, are you a scientist or a politico?

The AGW issue has ramification for all of Earth. Do you want to kill it?
Ethelred
3 / 5 (6) Jan 04, 2011
I'm just an anonymous concerned scientist. Move along. Nothing to see here. The opinions I express are strictly my own.


Many years ago Oliver was an actual scientist. He is now a Crank. Which usually results in Political Cranking as well. I think it comes from thinking the government should be taking the Cranks word.

Ethelred
rgwalther
5 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2011
Howhot????
Not Very. Other than massive population reduction, any technological, human based solution has the same potential for disaster as any technological, human based cause.
omatumr
1 / 5 (8) Jan 04, 2011
If you want to return the discussion to science and measurements, here are a few papers for you to consider:

1. "The Sun's origin, composition, and source of energy," 32nd Lunar Planetary Science Conference (2001) 1041; arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0411255v1

2. "The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass," Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69 (2006) pp. 1847-1856; arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0609509v3

3. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun," Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144: arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

Best wishes for 2001!
Oliver K. Manuel
Skeptic_Heretic
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 04, 2011
Many years ago Oliver was an actual scientist. He is now a Crank. Which usually results in Political Cranking as well. I think it comes from thinking the government should be taking the Cranks word.
Mr. Manuel, do you realize how far you've fallen? You have the credentials of hero-ship within scientific communities. You worked for NASA, you were integral to some of the projects that had long lasting impact on research and culture. It is both maddening and saddening to see you fail to illogically follow through your ideology and deny new discoveries since your previous tenure. Nothing I can say will change your mind, only you can do that. Bring your skeptical side back into the equation and logically evaluate your hypothetical framework.
rgwalther
not rated yet Jan 04, 2011
Well old skeptic heretic, I least I know who he is.
Ethelred
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 04, 2011
If you want to return the discussion to science and measurements, here are a few papers for you to consider:
You have posted those umpteen bazillion times Oliver. Answer the bloody questions or admit you are never going to more those inadequate papers.

You have been stonewalling for YEARS.

Where is the evidence for neutron decay in bound neutrons?

Why doesn't the mass of the mass of the Sun less than the mass of the least massive possible neutron star.]

Where is the evidence that the Sun is rigid iron over that neutron core? And no that solar flare was not evidence of rigid iron. It was evidence of iron traces in the photosphere.

Ethelred
omatumr
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 04, 2011
If you cannot or will not read peer-reviewed research articles (and assume that the authors and reviewers might have information that you do not have), then there is nothing I can do to help.

Nevertheless, I wish you well for the New Year!
Oliver K. Manuel
Skeptic_Heretic
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 04, 2011
If you cannot or will not read peer-reviewed research articles (and assume that the authors and reviewers might have information that you do not have), then there is nothing I can do to help.
The peer review research that I've read has taken 30 years and a billion dollars to fund and perform so that we could examine claims like yours that it was the sun, or cosmic rays, or volcanoes, or any other natural cause and we've found that no, none of the other hypothesized causes are happening. Then there's the matter of fingerprinting, which you should understand. We know that CO2 has the effect of cooling the stratusphere and warming the troposphere, and we've seen it across the board in relevant observations. You should know better.
Ethelred
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 04, 2011
If you cannot or will not read peer-reviewed research articles
Read them already and you know it. I have quoted from extensively in the past.

If you can't answer the questions I will continue to see the obvious. You don't have answers.

Ethelred