22 October 2009

Plastic pollution of the world's oceans

I recently authored a post at Neatorama called "Death by Plastic," which linked to photographs of albatross corpses on Midway Island in the mid-Pacific. The corpses were filled with plastic debris, which the birds ingest but are unable to digest, resulting in their death by starvation, bowel perforation, sepsis, etc.

Most commenters appreciated the seriousness of the matter, but others, unfamiliar with the ecology of plastic suggested that the photos were simply faked by an attention-seeking artist:
"It is FAKE propaganda put out by the “Mother Earth” cult."
"I’m all for not throwing plastic in the water, trust me, but these guys who do this fake stuff are just hurting the cause."
"I call shenanigans. Scratch that, I call utter, utter bullshit."
People are entitled to their opinions, including this one which approaches "trollness":
I don’t care about those stupid birds. Extinction is part of evolution. If you can’t get with the program then you die out. There are more important things to worry about than some insignificant species disappearing. I just threw my plastic bottle in the garbage (not recycling bin), i guess I’m evil now. Oh well.
I could have replied with these links (the cutting- and pasting- of which depressed me because of the need to see the images again for a few seconds):

Autopsy of an albatross
A beach in Senegal and a river in Java
A creek in Manila
Read 'em and weep. Now today I encounter the utterly mind-blowing video above, posted by Gerard Vlemmings at The Presurfer. It's possible that what we are seeing is a one-off, flood-related, runoff from a dump site, or a one-time illegal dumping. Or not. Perhaps some details will be posted at the YouTube link. The river is in Romania, and the photographer reassures us that not all Romanian rivers are so mismanaged, but he wants this video to be seen by the world. I'm happy to do my part.

Addendum:  Found this comment among the most Romanian ones at the YouTube posting:
I used to fish there. There is a dam about a mile upstream and a couple of sand mines or quarries. I think this happened because of the heavy rain and most of all because nobody does anything to collect the garbage. There is no way you can recycle anything over here. One must have the hart and the space to store his trash, then drive it to some place where they might collect it. Most people don't find it convenient mostly because they (should I include myself?) really don't give a fuck...


  1. Sadly, there are still people who do not "believe" in evolution, or global climate change, or even the age of the earth.

  2. The earth is 6,000 years old and everything is just fine, thank you very much!


  3. Look at how high the water is compared to the bridge. This is the result of a flood - the water is loaded down with all the stuff it has swept from the ground floor of people's houses further upstream.

    It's still horrible to watch, but at least it's not because Romanians are just throwing away unfeasibly large quantities of plastic. I bet the water when it receded from parts of the US east coast recently looked every bit as unwholesome.


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