Monday, November 19, 2007

'Twas Brillig

Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the mome raths outgrabe

--from Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll

It turns out that 'gyre' is not just a nonsense word any more. It's a word used by marine scientists to describe a current pattern that creates a vortex in the ocean. Here is an animation that illustrates the concept beautifully. So why should this esoteric concept be of interest? Because of what's floating around in there. A floating patch of plastic trash currently estimated to be twice as big as the state of Texas. Why should you care? Well, for one thing, it's killing sea animals who mistake it for food, eat it, and then die of malnourishment. But perhaps you don't care about that.

So why else should you care? Because that plastic is breaking down into little pieces. Not biodegrading entirely, just getting small enough to look like food to plenty of organisms at the bottom of the food chain. And when something enters the bottom of the food chain, who ends up eating it? You, me, and everyone we care about. It's just naive to think that we can ingest plastic indefinitely without any ill-effects to our health. This article, written in 2003, is worth reading. I wonder, does anyone even remotely imagine that things have improved since then?

And if the article isn't your thing, here's a video:

Food for thought.


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