Lost and Found

So you work hard all year and finally get a chance for a break. You book a vacation to a pristine, remote location, looking forward to virgin beaches, tropical beauty and unspoiled scenery. Instead, this is what you see:


collage of trash in the ocean
We are literally living in our own garbage.


There’s a lot of trash in the ocean. It’s a problem of epic proportion. And it’s getting worse. Much, much worse.

The reasons are multiple, many of them perhaps obvious.

More people on the planet. More people in urban sprawls, entirely disconnected from nature. More people with access to disposable (non-biodegradeable) goods. More societies that glorify excessive, wasteful consumption. More people who don’t think about consequences. More people who simply don’t care.

I realise that this problem, like most that we face, is complex, and can’t be solved simply by raising awareness.

Corruption and inefficiency, for instance, mean that many densely populated areas in developing countries have no trash disposal facilities. Greed, for instance, means that cruise ships dump waste at sea, while richer nations export their trash to less wealthy ones, which then dump much of the rubbish after collecting fees from the richer countries for going through the pretence of processing said garbage. Necessity, for instance, means that we will all continue using plastics for many things in our lives, until there is a viable alternative.

But still. I have witnessed exponential growth in garbage underwater, floating on the ocean, and washed up on even the most remote of beaches. It's not a theoretical: "What if?" question; it's more like: "D*mn, has this really happened in a single lifetime?"

The thing is...a majority of the world’s people will never spend substantial time in or on the ocean, so this problem is largely “out of sight, out of mind.”

But ignoring this problem is probably one of the stupidest things mankind will ever do.

Everything that goes into the ocean comes back to us in some manner, sooner or later.

Probably sooner.

Something to ponder in the new year.

Note: If you’d like to have a large copy of the above collage, click this link to download the full 12 MB jpg file, which you're free to use under a Creative Commons, Attribution, NonCommercial, ShareAlike, 4.0 International license. Send it around to friends. Share it with kids, the people who will be most affected by this problem.

Please note that I incorporated photos from various places around the world that I happen to have visited. I'm not picking on any one place. This is a global problem, affecting us one and all.