This post introduces the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in four questions.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a gyre (visualize as gigantic slow tornado in the sea) full of marine litter (visualize as confetti made of plastic). The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is well known because intensive research and a lot of media coverage.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Ocean. This is between China and the US. This size is estimated up to twice the size of the US. Estimating its size depends on the concentration of litter. Because there is litter everywhere in the ocean, people have not fully researched and agreed what the borders are of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The marine litter affects the environment is several ways. The new bigger parts of plastic cannot be digested by all kind of sea life like birds, fish and turtles. Once the plastic is in the belly there is not place for anything else and they simply starve to dead. Plastics are full of different kinds of chemicals. These toxin substances affect all kind of sea life including humans that eat fish.
Although the topic has reached mass media, activities to counter this type of pollution is minimal. It is good that certain governments have made regulation for example to reduce plastic bags in stores. So yes, many people are concerned. However, to prevent and finally cleanup the Great Pacific Garbage Patch there is a larger effort needed. A ban on plastic materials that are used in public would be a great start. Something that has been done successfully world wide for other dangerous materials. This would only require a simple state or federal law to start locally. Eventually all companies should replace plastic by other materials. Technologically this is possible, but for companies this would be an investment that does not bring profit (and thus only will make cost which is less profit in the end). Therefore it will be hard for political leaders to pass laws to prevent further growth of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.