The researcher who discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—and remains one of today's key advocates for plastic pollution awareness—inspires a fundamental rethinking of the modern Plastic Age.
In 1997, environmentalist Charles Moore discovered the world's largest collection of floating trash—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch ("GPGP")—while sailing from Hawaii to California. Moore was shocked by the level of pollution that he saw. And in the last 20 years, it's only gotten worse—a 2018 study has found that the vast dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific Ocean is now bigger than France, Germany, and Spain combined—far larger than previously feared.
In Plastic Ocean, Moore recounts his ominous findings and unveils the secret life of plastics. From milk jugs and abandoned fishing gear to polymer molecules small enough to penetrate human skin and be unknowingly inhaled, plastic is now suspected of contributing to a host of ailments, including infertility, autism, thyroid dysfunction, and certain cancers. An urgent call to action, Plastic Ocean's sobering revalations have been embraced by activists, concerned parents, and anyone alarmed by the deadly impact and implications of this man-made environmental catastrophe.
In 1997, Moore, captain of the oceanographic research vessel Alguita, discovered what became known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive "plastic soup... lightly seasoned with plastic flakes, bulked out here and there with dumplings': buoys, net clumps, floats, crates and other macro debris' " floating between Hawaii and California. This now-famous discovery led Moore, already a long-time environmentalist, to become a scientist-activist focusing on what others concerned with oceanic plastic proliferation had ignored: the "plastic confetti" created by ultraviolet light and ocean chemicals granulating the hundreds of millions of tons of plastic waste that have washed, blown, or been dumped into the ocean. In this sobering, impassioned book, Moore chronicles his attempts to mitigate the insidious effects of these bits, which are ingested by ocean creatures and can work their way up the food chain to poison humans. Moore, the grandson of a president of Hancock Oil, is also able to guide the reader through a history of plastic, the chemical process of plastics production, and its indestructibility and threat to our world. He covers some of the same ground as Susan Freinkel's Plastic, but his scientific background takes his investigation deeper.