SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 11:14 AM
The Great Pacific garbage patch, a swirling pile of pollution and discarded plastics between California and Japan, is made up of millions of pieces of trash and tiny plastics and has been estimated to be anywhere from the size of Texas to twice the size of the continental United States.
Now, a group of activists is hoping to make those comparisons to countries and states a bit more literal.
According to Quartz, enviromental advocates have started a petition to have the garbage patch officially recognized by the United Nations as a country, formally known as the Trash Isles. They even have designed a flag, passport and currency, appropriately named “debris.”
The Trash Isles’ honorary first citizen is, of course, former U.S. vice president Al Gore, who appeared in a video for the project.
Other high-profile supporters include British actor Judi Dench and Olympic champion runner Mo Farah, per Reuters.
Getting the Trash Isles recognized as a country would help, organizers say, because it would force other U.N. members to help clean the new nation up, as required by the U.N.’s charter.
However, not only is the plan extraordinarily unlikely to succeed, it also isn’t entirely scientifically accurate. In promotional materials, activists describe the Trash Isles as roughly the size of France, suggesting that there is nearly 250,000 square miles of solid, uninterrupted garbage floating on the surface of the Pacific.
In fact, “island” or “isles” are misnomers, according to the NOAA. For the most part, the garbage patch consists of millions of pieces of microplastics — tiny pieces of plastic that poision fish and harm the environment. While there is plenty of empty water bottles and fishing nets too, some of them are below the surface and it is not large enough on the surface to be observed by satellites.
Still, scientists say the garbage patch is extremely dangerous for the environment and use names like “Trash Isles” to convey the severity of that danger, per AdWeek.
Japan has banned shipments of rice grown near a tsunami-hit nuclear power plant, after detecting radiation exceeding the legal limit.
The cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, said on Thursday that a sample of rice from a farm contained 630 becquerels of caesium a kg.
Caesium was among the radioactive materials that leaked from the FukushimaDaiichi nuclear plant after it was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March.
Under Japanese regulations, rice with more than 500 becquerels of caesium per kilogram must not be consumed.
Officials have tested rice at hundreds of spots in Fukushima, but none had previously exceeded the limit. Only last month Fukushima declared that rice grown in the prefecture was safe.
By Captain Paul Watson
I have family and friends who are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Wiccans and even a few Scientologists and Mormons.
I have family and friends who are Conservatives, Liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Socialist, Communists, Anarchists and even a couple of Nihilists and possibly a Fascist or two.
I have family and friends from places flying hundreds of different flags and speaking hundreds of different languages.
I have family and friends who are wealthy, middle class, poor and homeless.
I have family and friends who are vegan, vegetarian and omnivore and possibly a couple of breatharians or so they say.
Some people have faith in anthropocentric fantasies, others have faith in science.
I have no problem with what people believe in or don’t believe in.
My concern is what connects us all and that is water. All of us without exception are citizens of this water planet – the Planet Ocean.
All of us owe our existence to the Ocean and the one great truth in my life is a simple one and that is; If the Ocean dies we all die!
It does not matter what you believe, it does not matter what your politics are. We are all united by the fact that if phytoplankton is diminished, we are all diminished. If forests are diminished we are all diminished and if biodiversity is diminished, we are all diminished.
Ecology has no politics, nationality, nor religion.
Since 1950 we have seen a 40% diminishment in phytoplankton mass in the world’s seas. Phytoplankton produce most of the oxygen that we depend upon for our collective survival.
How many people are aware of this? Sadly very few.
How many people even care? Again sadly very few.
Each of us are on average 65% water. This water passes into and out of our bodies beinging nutrients and removing waste from every single cell.
So if someone is 100 kilos, 65 kilos of what we are is H2O.
Of the remaining 35%, only about half is composed of human body cells. The other half is composed of trillions of cells from up to 10,000 species of bacteria.
In other words there is no such thing as an individual human being. We are all symbionts – a large complex mobile community of species of bacteria and fungi, and these species are interdependent. Bacteria cleans our skin, manufactures vitamins in our body, digests our food and perform numerous functions required to keep us alive.
This interdependence has allowed us to survive on this planet for tens of thousands of years. If an alien life form were to arrive here without a protective suit, it would quickly die because of the bacteria that we have evolved to co-exist with.
Kill off enough microflora in the body and we die. We exist because bacteria exist.
Every living thing from bacteria to the great whales is interdependent. The first law of ecology is diversity, the second is interdependence and the third is the law of finite resources. Lack of resources caused by over population of one species diminishes diversity in other species and thus diminishes biodiversity.
I have often been criticized for saying that worms, bees, trees and plankton are more important than human beings. However the truth is that these species can live without us but we cannot live without them. We need them and they don’t need us. Some species are more important than other depending on how they contribute to the collective life support system. Phytoplankton produces oxygen, trees absorb carbon dioxide, bees pollinate plants and worms keep the soil healthy.
When people ask me what my politics are, my answer is biocentrism and the laws of ecology.
When people ask me what my religious beliefs are, my answer is biocentrism and the laws of ecology.
I am a symbiotic self-aware mobile community of human and bacterial cells living within an Oceanic eco-system on the Planet Ocean.
We tend to view the sea as the Ocean. However the sea is only a part of the Ocean. The Ocean is water and it is in the sea, in the atmosphere, under the soil, deep in the rocks , locked up in ice and it flows through every cell of every plant and animal on the planet. It is water in constant circulation, pumped by the sun, circulated in rain, rivers, streams etc, and cleansed by estuaries, condensation, marshes and wetlands.
Everything connected by the one most important element composed of two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule oxygen connected so tightly and so intimately that all water is essentially one molecule.
We humans are here for the following reason:
1. Because of the sun. The sun is energy. Plants eat sunlight and animals eat plants.
2. Because of water. Water is life.
3. Because of the evolution of bio-diversity. The machinery of life.
4. Because of phytoplankton and trees to provide oxygen.
5. Because of phytoplankton, trees and plants absorbing carbon dioxide.
6. Because life is dictated by the natural laws of ecology.
7. Because 65.2 million years ago, an asteroid slammed into our planet ending the age of dinosaurs and laying the foundation for the evolution of mammals and the evolvement of primates into hominids. Without that asteroid there would still be life on this planet, just not life as we know it.
We are part of the Continuum – the flow of life.
The energy within us is eternal. The water within us is eternal. That which we think and believe we are – our consciousness is ephemeral.
by PAUL WATSON
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Feb. 04, 2017 6:17PM EST
Last updated Saturday, Feb. 04, 2017 6:44PM EST
At the age of 22, Robert Stewart was a young and energetic man who understood that the most powerful weapon in the world is the camera, and armed with a camera he set out in the year 2002 to change the world.
With his award winning film Sharkwater he actually did change the world. He transformed fearsome monsters into beautifully awesome creatures, deserving of both respect and empathy.
Rob was a man passionate about sharks. He saw them as beautiful sentient beings whose existence contributes to a healthy oceanic eco-system. He set out to prove that his intuitive perception about the true nature of sharks was real, and he did just that.
When Rob boarded my Canadian flagged ship the Ocean Warrior we explored the once shark-abundant waters around Costa Rica’s Cocos Island and the enchanted islands of the Galapagos.
Despite the obstacles, together we found the sharks and together we found trouble with frequent confrontations with shark-finning poachers. Together we were arrested for our interventions for filming crimes in a nation where such crimes are ignored and even protected by the authorities and where a camera is considered as something subversive.
His images contrasted the beauty of sharks within their element against the ugly images of the horror of their living finless bodies tossed overboard, drifting helplessly to the bottom of the sea to die slowly, their shocked eyes open, allowing us, for a moment, to glimpse their pain as the spark of life was slowly extinguished.
Rob once told me that he understood that his work was dangerous but that the least of those dangers was being killed by a shark. He was literally a shark hugger and the image of him with his arms around a large shark, his hand affectionately stroking what most people considered a fearsome creature, was revolutionary and enlightening.
The man knew sharks. He understood their importance and his confidence with his views about sharks allowed him to approach and film some of the most amazing images ever captured about these spectacular apex predators.
In addition to being a marine biologist, Rob Stewart had the four most important virtues needed to be a world class expert on sharks and the reality of our relationship with the living diversity within oceanic eco-system.
These virtues are passion, empathy, courage and imagination. He had the courage to follow his passion with a remarkable empathy for his subject and the imagination to transform the focus of his work through the media of film in a way that changed the perception of sharks to tens of millions of people around the planet.
Rob died doing what he loved. He took chances. Three deep dives in one day using a rebreather was dangerous and he knew it was dangerous. These device,s even in the hands of a professional diver like Rob, are unpredictable. Some people have asked why he was using a rebreather. The answer is that it allowed him to stay down long and because it does not produce bubbles, allowing him to get closer to the sharks,, which are animals that are easily spooked by bubbles. It allowed him to be like one of his subjects rather than a suspicious invader from another world.
Speaking with Rob and looking into his eyes revealed a deep sadness at what our species has done to the sharks. We slaughter tens of millions of them every year to the point that many shark species hover on the brink of extinction and that is why the film he had been working on is called Sharkwater Extinction.
Rob was an incredible educator in the spirit of Captain Jacques Cousteau. He brought the aquatic realm onto land and confronted us with the reality of the true nature of sharks. That in itself was heroic, even more so than his extraordinary feats of underwater documentation. It was heroic because he was championing a creature that has for centuries inspired fear and loathing. As a filmmaker, he was the antithesis of Stephen Spielberg and Sharkwater was the Anti Jaws.
It was my privilege to stand with Rob to present Sharkwater at the Toronto Film Festival. It was my privilege to dive with him in the Galapagos and at Cocos Island.
Rob pioneered a new and intimate approach to documenting sharks and I believe he inspired other courageous film makers like Michael Muller (White Mike) and Madison Stewart (Shark Girl). He laid the groundwork for both film makers and conservationists.
Most importantly he has left a legacy.
He will be greatly missed, by his family and friends, by his fellow Canadians and by caring and dedicated people around the world who will never forget his work, his courage, his talent, his resolve, his imagination and his awesome passion for life, beauty and truth.
Paul Watson is a marine wildlife conservationist, environmental activist and founder of the the anti-poaching proup the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
by Karen Dawn
On day three of the search, Rob’s body was found at the bottom of the ocean he loved, 300 ft from where he was last seen alive. It seems most likely that he passed out and sank, painlessly, doing what he loved. I will leave the piece below intact, because now more than ever we can honor him by watching and sharing his beautiful work, his legacy.
Rob Stewart: Missing Canadian film-maker’s body found in Florida
4 February 2017
So happy to be shooting #Sharkwater2 with the best cameras and equipment in the world. For the first time I can show you sharks through my eyes, because the cameras can shoot that fast, and high res enough for you to see the personality in sharks’ faces that people who spend their lives with sharks fully understand.
Just before sunset on Tuesday, he surfaced from his third dive of the day, a dive of 200 feet, just off the Florida Keys. His diving partner was pulled onto the boat, then immediately passed out. As the crew attended to his partner and turned the boat around to pick up Rob, he disappeared. The crew thinks he may have also passed out and floated away.
The divers had been using closed-circulation rebreathing devices, which are considered riskier than standard scuba equipment, but they allow humans to dive without blowing bubbles that can spook sharks. Rob wants us to see the creatures he adores as close up as possible.
Rob is wearing a dry suit. Because it contains his body heat, it precludes using thermal imaging scanning technology at night and so has slowed down the search. But the coastguards have said it also gives him the best possible chance of survival, and that the conditions couldn’t be better, which is why the search is still going at full force after two days.
Tyler MacLeod, a close friend and Sharkwater production manager, tells us that thirty-six year old Rob is a strong swimmer and diver. People have survived for days in the current conditions. Not only is Rob strong, many of us consider him to be blessed. If anybody is going to be gently nudged to shore by a dolphin, or, in his case, more likely a shark, it is Rob.
MacLeod also says that Rob taught him about the power of manifesting, and he asks all of us to use our thoughts to manifest Rob’s safe return. I was struck by that call as I am currently rereading Wayne Dyer’s beautiful book, Manifest Your Destiny. It is about the power of focusing one’s thoughts, energies and intentions. It is important to note that manifesting your destiny is not necessarily the same as manifesting your desires, though they are generally connected.
Rob’s destiny is surely to help us save sharks, to save the oceans, to save life on Earth. All who know him would say that is also his number one desire. Our desire for him to live many more decades to continue to inspire us energizes the search. But, thinking about Rob’s actions, and the risks he takes, we should acknowledge that long life is not his number one priority. While we all hope it is part of his destiny, it may or may not be so.
Unable to think about anything else yesterday, I watched Sharkwater, hoping I was honoring him more than worry possibly could. By encouraging others to watch his wonderful movie, I am doing my best to help him in his mission. Unless you are already absolutely in love with sharks, and passionately committed to saving our oceans, Sharkwater, available for free on Vimeo, will change the way you see the world.
Watch it today, and share it. No matter where Rob Stewart is right now, miraculously alive, or blissfully returned to the oceans he adores, I know that would please him. And it will help manifest both his most cherished desire and his destiny.
It may sound complicated, but really, it’s simple—if you add carbon emissions to seawater, the ocean turns more acidic. Ocean acidification is happening. We can’t sit back and watch politics harm our coastal communities.
Recently, Scott Pruitt—the nominee for the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was asked directly by Senators about ocean acidification, he wasn’t even willing to admit that ocean acidification is happening.
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION IS HAPPENING.
We gave Scott Pruitt a chance, we listened to what he had to say at his confirmation hearings and his answers on ocean acidification are a total deal-breaker. Ocean acidification is happening. Shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest nearly went bankrupt as a result. Lobstermen in Maine are concerned enough about acidification that they have traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to support important research that will tell them how lobster might be impacted.
AMERICA’S CLEAN WATER AND AIR THAT SUSTAIN US CREATE A SHINING EXAMPLE FOR MUCH OF THE WORLD, AND THE EPA IS THEIR DEFENDER.
Pruitt demonstrates no understanding of the present reality of ocean acidification and the urgent risk it poses to American marine life, fishermen and the communities that depend on them. Americans must protect our water and air from further pollution while we work collaboratively towards win-win solutions to challenges like ocean acidification. Because Pruitt ignores the established science about our ocean, he is the wrong choice to lead the EPA.
A letter to humanity from the Ocean: