Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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"A hero . . . Moore is the first person to have pursued serious scientific research by sampling the garbage patch." ---The New York Times
About the Author
Capt. Charles Moore has logged over 100,000 miles on research voyages, and his work has been featured on NPR, National Geographic, and in the Wall Street Journal.
Cassandra Phillips has worked as a newspaper reporter and won grant funding from the USDA Small Business and Innovation and Research program to research plastic's effects on orchids.
Mel Foster, an audiobook narrator since 2002, won an Audie Award for Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey. He has also won several AudioFile Earphones Awards. Best known for mysteries, Mel has also narrated classic authors such as Thoreau, Nabokov, and Whitman.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Overall a great read and I couldn't agree more with this thought: "each purchase should be a moral decision that takes into account the life cycle of all the materials in your shopping basket..."
So, if you want to get into the excitement of the book skip to Chapter Six.
By the way, Apple's Steve Jobs is not idolized in this book because he--and others--were pushing iPods (a new one each year) "containing a myriad of toxic metals as well as waning resources like copper and oil [and, of course, there's plastic]--innovation and [non]disposability join hands for one reason: profit" (p. 96).
This is, of course, a non-fiction book. So, I will relate it to you via quotes that will, hopefully, shake you up as much as they did me:
Page 135: "More food processing means more food packaging, mostly plastic."
Page 139: "In this topsy-turvy world, what cheers investors bring environmentalists to tears."
Page 149: "Plastics are winning and are predicted to overtake paper as the reigning packaging material by 2014."
Page 150-1: "We need to stop cultivating innovation for its own sake and start thinking MORALLY [emphasis mine] and ecologically about the innovations we embrace. Is it worth trashing the planet? Each purchase should be a moral decision."
Page 152: In the north central Pacific waters is a place referred to as "Plastic Stew." But plastic is ubiquitous in many places in the ocean.
Page 157: "Albatross chicks by the tens of thousands perish each year, stuffed by their well-meaning parents with plastic non-food"--that comes from both land and water vessels.
Page 160: "Tens of thousands of northern fur seals [are] being killed by abandoned [plastic] nets."
Page 168: "Companies [ships] are not legally required to report [plastic container] spills [because] they are considered non-toxic. The ship owner escapes liability for any cleanup."
Page 172: "Whale feeding mostly happens near the sea surface where plastic fragments mingle with and mimic legitimate organisms."
Page 200: "...Plastic debris is second only to commercial fishing as a killer of marine life..."
Page 204: "...An estimated million seabirds are killed each year by entanglement in longlines [net lines] and 100,000 turtles and marine mammals."
Page 277: "Most of the 300 billion pounds of plastics produced each year start out s pellets. If a tenth of a percent escape to the oceans, that's a 150,000 ton annual deposit."
Page 259: "The United States lags behind Europe in technology [that converts some plastics to less harmful chemical compositions]."
Page 300: "There's just not enough profit in recovering, sorting, cleaning, processing and remanufacturing infinitely variable plastics. This is why we need extended PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY [emphasis mine] so industry won't make things that it can't economically recover."
Page 305: "Long-term value means not only durability, but recyclability. This takes the onus off consumption as the problem and puts it on industrial design, which must devise recyclable compounds for each product--to achieve zero waste."
Finally, the book deals with the new field of "green chemistry" and the idea of recycling entrepreneurs.
I gave this book a 4 because the writing undulates between exciting and boring. The subject itself, though, micro-plastics in the ocean, deserves serious attention.
But this book is not about trash in general, rather it focuses on the world of disposable plastic and how it works it way into our water supply, especially the Pacific Ocean. Captain Moore starts out talking about sailing with his family as a youth and experiencing clean oceans; that it would be rare to see any floating trash. Fast forward to getting stuck in the gyre (I am not an ocean guy, but I took this to mean the part of the ocean that is not in the currents, thus relatively "trapped" sections the size of very large states) and noticing lots of debris; mainly plastic as it tends to float. This began the personal mission that would fill up his life; Why is there so much plastic in the ocean, and where did it come from?
The mistakes I think most people make when talking about plastic is they believe it is easily recyclable. The truth is a lot more complicated as you cannot take a bottle and make another bottle; rather you make something less down the chain. And that all plastic is recyclable while the truth is there are thousands of varieties of plastic and more being invented all the time. Also plastic never really breaks down, it just becomes small and smaller insomuch sea creatures begin ingesting it, and then so do we. And the sheer volume of plastic in our world today is staggering. I am sitting here using a chair, computer, keyboard, Ipod, water bottle, watch, desk, phone all containing plastic materials right now. Even my shirt buttons are plastic. It is truly everywhere.
We are literally killing ourselves with plastic in our disposable age, and it seems no one cares. No when I read this book I do come away with the desire to completely remove all plastics from life, besides that would be impossible. Take travel for instance, you would be unable to drive a car or take an airplane anymore. In situations like these I look to the pragmatic steps we can take right now. Number one plastic polluter - disposable shopping bags. We can all take steps to reduce our usage right there for a start. Then start looking for more areas where plastic makes inroads to your disposable lifestyle and start implementing small changes. Use real dishes and utensils, buy products based on less packaging material or even non-plastic materials, buy larger size containers of items you do use that the non-plastic choice isn't readily available (i.e shampoo, etc), and please, please, please clean up your own mess and your communities whenever you can.
You probably won't change the world, but you can significantly alter your little corner of it. The only knock on the book is it is a little dry and not accessible to the average reader. When you read the book you will get the irony because Captain Moore recounts the years it took him to get more academic to be taken seriously by the scientific community. But the audience here is just regular concerned citizens and the book could have used a lot more anecdotes to fill out the statistics. For example, he mentions the sinking of a cruise ship, losing all aboard, due to the propeller getting caught in a abandon plastic fishing net only in passing. A few paragraphs on that could have awakened a whole population of cruise go-ers to the possible dangers.
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