Monday, March 24, 2008

Floaty and Leafy Tackle the North Pacific Gyre

The first I heard about the North Pacific Gyre was from my cartoonist, editor, and pal Pete Friedrich, who used to drive a 1970 Impala, but has since gone enviro in a big way and reduced his carbon footprint to half that of a chipmunk's. He's also the one who taught me that cooking with a Teflon pan on high heat can kill your canary, which I never do anymore.

What's the Pacific Gyre? It's an enormous mass of plastic debris the size of texas that is trapped at the center of the circular Pacific Ocean currents. Plastic, as we know, never goes away, but it does break down into smaller bits eventually. Those bite-sized pieces are consumed by jellyfish, birds, and other creatures who partially digest them and return it to the water as plastic poop. So the Gyre is a soup, not only of bottles and tampon applicators, but also tiny, microscopic bits of plastic that permeate the entire habitat and food chain.

Pete made a comic book about it, so I have to believe him. And it's funny and charming and well-written. It's suitable for kids and will turn them into environmentalists. Of course, after the way the way we've left things they'll have to be. Get a copy here here.


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