Are we really “choking the ocean with plastic”? Tracing the creation of an eco-myth

Watts Up With That?

By Larry Kummer, from the Fabius Maximus website

Summary: Last week Kip Hansen’s “An Ocean of Plastic” thoroughly debunked myths about the “great garbage patch”. But who created this story? Like many of the scary stories of our time, it came from the interaction of actual science with activist scientists and clickbait-seeking journalists. It is an example of how real problems become masked by myths, leaving us divided and unable to respond. To make this a self-contained post, it repeats some material covered by Hansen.


The first recorded sighting of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was by oceanographer Charles J. Moore (heir to oil wealth, now an environmental activist) when sailing home after a race in 1999. Here is how he describes it (from “Trashed”, Natural History, Nov 2003). Too bad he did not bring a camera to record it!

“Day after day, Alguita was…

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