Big Stink: Great Garbage Patch's Size Exaggerated

Think 1% the size of Texas, not twice as big
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2011 7:41 AM CST
Matt Durham, center, pulls in a large patch of sea garbage with the help of Miriam Goldstein, right, Aug. 11, 2009 in the Pacific Ocean.   (AP Photo/ Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Mario Aguilera)
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(Newser) – The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is often said to be twice the size of Texas—but that and other scary-sounding claims are “grossly exaggerated,” some scientists are now insisting. A new study shows the plastic waste patch is actually 200 times smaller than previously claimed when comparing its mass to the amount of water; if you need a Texas-sized visual, it’s actually closer to 1% of the state's area, says researcher Angelicque White.

She is quick to add that the amount of plastic in the ocean is definitely “troubling,” but that scare tactics only “undermine the credibility of scientists.” White adds, “it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton, or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic.” At this point, trying to get rid of the plastic is too expensive and potentially damaging to the ocean’s ecology, the Telegraph reports; White recommends focusing on prevention going forward. Click to read about its sister garbage patch in the Atlantic.

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