Contrary to the NY Times — The DR Has Lots of Clean Beautiful Beaches

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

nytimes_vs_realityPalko Karasz, writing in the New York Times, with a degree of insensitivity bordering on blatant intentional libel, reports: “Come for the beaches, say tourism ads for the Dominican Republic. But it has some beaches you might want to skip right now. The Caribbean nation is known for sapphire seas and ivory beaches, but it is grappling with waves of garbage washing up on its shores, a vivid reminder of the presence of thousands of tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.

The NY Times article is “Wave After Wave of Garbage Hits the Dominican Republic”, published yesterday in the Times’ AMERICAS section.  There are photos of a massive shore clean-up, with government employees raking up huge piles of floating plastic trash mixed with seaweed.  Most of the article is based on a rabidly biased blog post from an anti-plastics activist group Parley for the Oceans.

It appears, at a quick glance, that Karasz has allowed himself to be gamed into the story by Parley for the Oceans. Karasz is “a digital editor for The New York Times, based in the London newsroom. He is part of a digital team that covers live news, including recent terrorist attacks and elections across Europe.”  Environmental news is not his beat…the Caribbean is not his beat….oceanic plastic is not his beat.

Karasz is gamed first and foremost into including “Those piles [referring to the piles of trash in the photos below],  most notably the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” are usually far from human settlements, to say nothing of resort destinations.”  Karasz’ link leads to another misleading NY Times article from earlier in the year, featuring blow-ups of Petri dishes full of itty-bitty pieces of plastic — the shocking finds of a study that finally included  the weight of floating masses of lost fishing nets in the calculations, allowing them to claim “The ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ Is Ballooning, 87,000 Tons of Plastic and Counting”.

The proper reference for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is NOAA’s  “How Big Is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”? Science vs. Myth” — whose iconic authoritative answer is “There is no “garbage patch,”.

Here’s a collage of the photos offered by The Times:


Notice that the  story isn’t “Massive Clean-up underway on Santo Domingo Beaches”– instead Karasz echoes Parley for the Oceans blog post nearly word for word — Parley describes Playa Montesionos as an “apocalyptic scene – wave after wave of plastic debris rolling in at Montesinos Beach in the capital, Santo Domingo“ language mirrored by Karasz in the title of his NY Times piece.  Karasz then goes on, falling into the trap, with “But instead of visitors relaxing on Montesinos Beach in the capital, Santo Domingo, there has been an altogether different scene, one unlikely to wind up on a postcard: Hundreds of city workers and volunteers who have been waging an uphill battle against wave after wave of sludgy garbage.”  Oh, really?

Where is Montesinos Beach?


Playa Montesinos is a little patch of sand built up on the breakwater that protects the cargo ship docks of Santo Domingo — one can drive down next to the fence by the docks — which are heavily guarded.  Truck drivers congregate here to eat their lunches while waiting to enter the docks to pick up cargo.  In the following blow-up, you  can see the white-roof on the left side — the upscale restaurant “D’ Luis Parrillada”.


You will see no lounging tourists and see the beach as it usually is — clean and beautiful. [ These satellite images are taken at random and picked for publication based on their being cloud free.]  I have parked where the cars are on the right, waiting to be able to enter the dock area and pick up a life raft that had been shipped to us.  I have eaten in the restaurant.  This part of town (north of the playa) is Colonial Santo Domingo, with lots of beautiful buildings going back hundreds of years and well worth visiting.  It is not, however, near any tourist hotels and the beach is normally as you see it above, empty of people.

The Dominican Republic is a “developing nation” — meaning that is has all the problems and difficulties of other developing nations, including problems as simple as “picking up and disposing of the trash”.  The Dominican Republic is in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes, that regularly sweep over Santo Domingo dropping an average of 57 inches of rain a year.

When those torrents of rain come down, they sweep the streets of the slums up-river into the Ozama and its tributaries, washing into the river all the plastic refuse and trash on the streets, many of the houses of the poor, and sometimes whole neighborhoods.  Everything that floats comes downstream and enters the ocean between the Naval Officers Club on the east and the cargo docks on the west.  The winds and waves are both normally from the south, and blow all the floating material onto the beach — not just at Montesinos, but all along the generally rocky shore of the city of Santo Domingo.  The trash gets mixed with the floating seaweed that is driven ashore by the same forces.

Karasz does quote one Dominican “The plastic waste washing onto Montesinos Beach comes from the Ozama River, which flows into the Caribbean nearby”, one of those in charge of the cleanup, Gen. Rafael Antonio Carrasco, told Reuters.” [More correctly, the quote if from Brigadier General Rafael Antonio Carrasco Paulino, the executive director of the Civil Defense.]

Relying on Cyrill Gutsch, the founder of Parley for the Oceans, who is based in New York, Karasz parrots “It happens pretty much all the time if there is a strong rainfall or a storm,…The phenomenon is not confined to the Dominican Republic, and can be seen in many developing nations with a coastline. “Everybody uses the rivers and the beaches as dump sites.” and “What is happening in the Dominican Republic is only a small symptom of the larger global problem”, Mr. Gutsch said. Plastic dumped in and near rivers washes into the ocean, and only a small percentage bounces back onto shore. The majority makes it to the high seas.”

Based on my personal experience living in the Dominican Republic for ten years, it is absolutely untrue that “Everybody uses the rivers and the beaches as dump sites.” While there is a tendency to be a “little loose with litter” and municipal trash and garbage pickup systems leave a lot to be desired,  none of the governmental entities actually use rivers or beaches as “dump sites”  — anyone caught using a beach as a dump site would be arrested if reported.  Neither does the Domincan Republic allow the dumping municipal trash “in or near” rivers.  Sanitary land fills in the DR may not quite up be to US or European standards, but every effort is made within their economic reach to be responsible.

The assertion by Cyrill Gutsch that “only a small percentage bounces back onto shore. The majority makes it to the high seas” is unsupported by evidence and certainly is not true for the Caribbean which I sailed up and down for years — there is very little floating plastic off-shore — sighting anything big enough to see with the naked eye is an “event” often leading to changing course to get close enough to check out the identity of floating entities.  We did see, on one occasion shortly after a hurricane, a refrigerator sans door, floating 50 miles offshore.

So, despite what this one activist organization publishes, and games a London-based NY Times journalist into repeating, here’s what the beaches of the Dominican Republic really look like — “scout’s honor” — I have been to each of these many times and always found them just as pictured:

Sosua Beach — North Shore (I lived in Sosua for a year, while my youngest son, now a Captain, attended an International High School):


Bavaro Beach — a beautiful, all-inclusive report on the East Shore:


Macao Beach — East Shore:


Playa Rincon – faces the Atlantic on the north side of Samana Peninsula:


And then there is this beautiful, rarely visited prefect pink sand beach called Playa El Valle — facing the Atlantic:


The two “businesses” shown by Google Maps demonstrate the entrepreneurship of the Dominican people.  They are, in reality, just two beach shacks — one nominally a “bar and grill” and the other a “restaurant” at which Josefina will fix you a meal, if she’s there.  Although not an authorized port for foreign vessels, we anchored there under Safety At Sea rules for “any port in a storm”.   The locals arranged a horseback riding tour for us.

Pay no attention to the libelous reports in the NY Times.  There are hundreds (literally, hundreds — I have pictures — lots of pictures) of equally beautiful, near empty beaches in the Dominican Republic — vacation packages, including airfare,  are available very inexpensively to lovely all-inclusive resorts.

Or, like my family, go on your own, sail down or fly, stay in native hotels where you will be treated very well.

The Dominican Republic is beautiful.  Visitors Welcome. 

# # # # #

Authors Note:

This is really a lesson in junk journalism.  It appears that a journalist in London was ‘touched’ by an activist group in New York to write a hear-say story about something in the Dominican Republic — a story bound to scare away tourists, on which a lot of their economy depends.  Oh, the trash did wash down the Ozama, it does every heavy rainfall, and the government cleans it up.  It does not affect tourist beaches.

The same thing happens in the Phillipines, all over Southeast Asia, Malaysia, etc.  Not as bad in Africa which doesn’t have as many huge cites along the coasts.

If I hadn’t had the personal experience in the DR, I wouldn’t have spotted the fake news aspects.

Lesson To Be Learned:  Whenever an activist organization is involved in a news story — check and double check the “facts” — it’s easy to be burned.

# # # # #

Quick Links:

Palko Karasz

thousands of tons of plastic

Wave After Wave of Garbage Hits the Dominican Republic

biased blog post from an anti-plastics activist group Parley for the Oceans

“Great Pacific Garbage Patch,”

Petri dishes

The ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ Is Ballooning, 87,000 Tons of Plastic and Counting

NOAA’s  “How Big Is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”? Science vs. Myth

Late Addition:  You should also read my previous essays on pelagic plastic:

An Ocean of Plastic

Plastics Yet Again.

# # # # #

147 thoughts on “Contrary to the NY Times — The DR Has Lots of Clean Beautiful Beaches

  1. Talk about a former news paper killing the tourism for a country that could always use some tourism…what a slanderous bummer

  2. But it supports the narrative! I believe people are becoming more and more aware of junk” journalism” (and I use that term loosely).

  3. Ah yes, the Fakestream Media and their Fake News, complete with the debunked “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”…. Meanwhile, the Ecofascists have managed to get the Queensland Government in Australia to Ban “single use” plastic shopping bags.

    Getting more than sick of this ecofascism. My electricity bill is through the roof because of the banning of coal, now they’re banning plastic shopping bags and making shopping even more of a chore…… Wish we could ban Greenies.

    • That ban, on free bags, extends to the whole country now. As you know, we have multi-use bags which cost nearly AU$1. And they are still made of plastic, 80% of which is recycled (Apparently). And they are nicely printed too.

      • We use cardboard boxes. Some I’ve cut holes in for handles. Others stay in the car.
        Wheel the cart out (many stores have them) and load into the box in the car.
        Boxes work better than plastic bags.

      • i’m taking advantage of the free hand baskets they have just inside the shops door, the ones with the metal arms. *

        I also have a very strong desire to ask why free plastic shopping bag is banned yet the 10c one they offer to sell me is precisely the same as the old free ones .. but my wife tells me to shush.

        (* if they look fidgety and say I can’t take those but I can buy a reusable bag, I tell them I have 85 of the damned thing in the back of the car and I’m not spending a bloody cent on another – and I get my free hand basket)

  4. Lying about the beaches, to kill tourism? Why does the New York Times hate brown people?

  5. “The proper reference for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is NOAA’s ‘How Big Is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”? Science vs. Myth’ — whose iconic authoritative answer is ‘There is no “garbage patch,”'”

    Kip, you left out the second point,
    “There are many ‘garbage patches.'” The reason “garbage patch” is in quotes is because it’s not like people envision a garbage patch, with all kinds of floating detritus visible at the surface. Surely you know this, having read the page, so giving this quote alone is misleading.

    Maybe you haven’t seen them because “The debris is continuously mixed by wind and wave action and widely dispersed both over huge surface areas and throughout the top portion of the water column. It is possible to sail through the ‘garbage patch’ area and see very little or no debris on the water’s surface.”

    • For once I’m on your side Kristi. The world DOES have a plastics problem. There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans and the number increases both from new plastic being dumped in waterways or directly in the oceans and from larger pieces breaking down to smaller ones. However FORGET about CO2 being a problem Kristi. The world’s atmosphere needs more CO2 NOT LESS. The world needs you to fight against plastic dumping; NOT CO2.

      • Alan ==> Read the essays I linked above for Kristi — you are being gamed by the “BIG Number fallacy.” Ideally, there should not be any pieces of plastic in the oceans. But trillions of microscopic pieces is not the same as trillions of floating plastic bottles.
        Because plastics degrade (and are eventually consumed entirely by bacteria) in the oceans, each milk bottle breaks down into more and more itty-bitty (and itty-bitty-ier) pieces.
        I’ve covered all this in the previous essays.
        THIS essay is about an activist organization gaming journalist to gain press coverage — needlessly libeling a beautiful tourist destination to do so.

      • It’s only problem because of ”climate change” or rather the false co2 factor

        Just incinerate the bloody stuff, generate power, scrub the stack,………problem sorted

    • If the leaders of the world had directed all the money they wasted on chasing the CO2 boogeyman towards real pollution, such as ocean garbage patches, perhaps we would have been much cleaner waters now.

    • Kristi ==> The actionable quote, provided by NOAA and repeated by you: “It is possible to sail through the ‘garbage patch’ area and see very little or no debris on the water’s surface.” The meme is to compare images of islands floating plastic trash pushed into a bay or against a beach at a river mouth (exactly as in the NY Times piece) and then refer to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch as the prime example of this same thing. I don’t just quote the NOAA page, I link it for you so, the reader, can read it for yourself.

      Compare “see very little or no debris on the water’s surface” with the images in the Times. You see the disconnect?

      You should read my previous essays on pelagic plastic — An Ocean of Plastic and Plastics Yet Again. I supply an actual photograph of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” — you’ll like it.

      Plastics do not belong in the oceans. Period.

    • Alan, others. Why do we have to drag CO2 into this discussion? Kristi makes a good point and Kip has written a good piece about a serious problem. And he’s not minimizing the trash issue – he’s commenting on how media will distort their coverage to get traction with their target audience.

    • Kristi, and others here who should know better. The oceans are not full of plastic. They never will be. The amount of plastic in the oceans is insignificant. The “oceans are full of plastic” alarmism is just the latest anti-human environmental propaganda scheme. That’s all.

      • Holly ==> Thank you for your common sense pragmatism. Plastics in the ocean are not a disaster — but they can be, and often are, a negative impact which we all can help correct.

        Ladybird Johnson, when she was First Lady of the US, got the whole country to “cleanup the roadsides” with her anti-litter campaign.till benefit from the results of her work.

        Human trash does not belong in the ocean and we should do our best to see that it doesn’t end up there.

        However, the anti-plastics tirades and nonsense are harmful of themselves. One lie is that “plastics are forever”. See my two earlier essays — in Quick Links.

  6. I don’t trust Google Earth images at all. Search for Chittagong in Pakistan. You will see clean beaches in the whole area. In reality, all beaches are littered with ships being scrapped.

    • Bernie B
      Patrick MJD ‘Search for Chittagong in Pakistan’. Patrick, Chittagong is not in Pakistan. It is in Bangla Desh- once(1971) East Pakistan, a long time ago. Pakistan’s ship breaking centre is at Gadani 50km NW of Karachi – a desolate beach of broken ships.

    • In real reality, there are no ships on the Chittagong beaches. That’s because the ship breaking yards are in Gadani, not Chittagong. Search Google Earth for Gadani. You will see the ships.

  7. Regarding “The Dominican Republic is in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes, that regularly sweep over Santo Domingo dropping an average of 57 inches of rain a year”: 57 inches is Santo Domingo’s average annual rainfall from all of the kinds of rain producing weather that they get including easterly waves and local rain events. Most of that 57 inches is not from tropical storms and hurricanes.

    • For many weather events a “mean” (average) can be misleading.
      Do you know the maximum rain in a day, or 3 days?
      For example, where we live, our mean precipitation is 9 inches per year. Most days we get zero.

    • Donald ==> You are correct — but having lived there, I can tell you that most of the rain received comes in tropical thunderstorms, which dump down in buckets and sheets of rain, even if just for 20-30 minutes. These heavy rainfalls wash street trash into the rivers…..full-fledged tropical storms and hurricanes can and do wash whole houses and whole shanty-town neighborhoods into the rivers.

  8. Thank you for sharing this. Stunning place.
    Why does the NYT want to destroy the economy of a poor third world nation?

  9. I believe I began to realize the wheels of truth began falling off of the TV evening news in the 80s when Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings were headliners. While it may not have been the case, it seemed like Tom Brokaw, especially, used to report on some issue which he’d call a “crisis”, twice a week (different issues). I began to notice this behavior and got focused on his doing this. My thinking was if the issue was a crisis, we should hear of the issue many more times in subsequent broadcasts, but no, we almost never did. All these crises, and no mention of them again. Were they really crises to began with?
    I used to listen to KRLD in Dallas on my way home from work in the 90s. Sometimes Dan Rather would be pitching something for which I always half listened. One day, I actually listened to Dan Rather giving forth about something, and I realized he was simply full of it, and himself. I was so bothered by his drivel that I called KRLD to tell them I thought Rather was rather inane, and was essentially telling the listener what to think. The person to whom I spoke said he hadn’t heard anything from anyone to that effect. 20 some years later, I felt somewhat vindicated that he was yet another liberal that made things up (in Texas we call that lying; President Trump calls it Fake News, of course). Sometime in the 80s (maybe even in the late 70s) the media became master prevaricators. IMO, now they are just plain liars. Thank God for the internet where a discerning person can smoke out the truth. But one has to work at it now. For example, in only 3 weeks, in 2007, I was able to determine, without a doubt in my mind, that CAGW was pure steamy Texas cowpaddy. One can no longer trust the media – they gave up their right to be believed.

    • Dan Rather used to get a short (maybe 2 or 3 minutes) presentation on our local CBS station that I heard in the afternoon on my way home from work. As I remember, these essays were frequently opinion commentary, which is perfectly legitimate. Sometimes I think I even agreed with him. But his regular use of the phrase “Dan Rather reporting” was objectionable. A paradigm case of an influential media figure seemingly oblivious to the difference between opinion and fact.

  10. I really think reports of damage done to the oceans by plastic is grossly exaggerated.
    And usually comes from activists who are desperate to find the “evidence”.

    • Apparently the size of Texas. Well if images of floating aircraft wreckage the size of a door can be found via satellite, I am sure they can find a plastic patch the size of Texas too. To date, nothing of the sort has been found. Like the heat in the oceans, it’s AWOL.

    • “I really think reports of damage done to the oceans by plastic is grossly exaggerated.”

      What is the basis for that conclusion?

    • Jeff ==> There is a real problem with trash going into the oceans. It is just quite different than usually represented by journalists mirroring activists groups, each of which have their own agendas — very few of them having to do with plastics in the ocean.

      Our trash — plastic, paper, glass, organic, medical debris — does not belong in the ocean. Period. No excuses.

      That said, almost all news stories greatly exaggerate the negative effects of issue — like with AGW — hoping to attract public sentiment to their issue and garner support and funds.

      The majority of the “real” problem is in Asia. Europe and North America contribute very little. Efforts, such as foreign aid, should be focused there to assist in establishment of high quality sanitary land fills, refuse field power plants, and basic municipal trash handling.

      See my previous essay — linked at the bottom of Quick Links at end of essay.

      • Kip
        Yes I agree with all that, it’s just I get a little irritated with what I feel is sensationalism and distorted reporting.

        • Jeff ==> I thought so — like with AGW the alarmist positions and policy preferences can make us reject the whole package — even the parts that are win-win, such as electric cars. We need to remain clear-headed even in the heat of battle. I was just reminding us all that there is a problem….

  11. FAKE photojournalism is as insidious as FAKE verbaljournalism. This article reminds me of how I select Hotels when I travel … GoogleEarth. Invariably, all the photos posted by the Hotels are … well … carefully cropped to omit the power plant next door to the hotel … or the all-night discotheque next door. GoogleEarth easily corrects all the cropped, filtered, and outdated photos posted to make a sketchy hotel look good. Same thing here. Same thing with the FRAUDULENT photos I see posted whenever I read an article about the … “floating garbage patch, the size of Texas” … swirling in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

    • I worked prepress position in a newspaper for 6 years. Yes, I did notice that the newsroom was dominated by liberals. The bias was often displayed by stories that were selected to not print.


    • I have often seen comments on this forum to the point that liberals cannot do math. The liberal editor I worked under was definitely innumerate. He did not understand the difference between Kilowatts and Kilowatt hours and thought a rise from 200% to 210% was a 10% gain. He even thought Dec. 31, 1999 was the last day of the 20th century.


    • My father was a lifetime reader of Time magazine. I started out the same.

      Then I noticed a pattern. On any subject I happened to know about, Time would get it wrong. Not, usually, a complete lie; just a slight emphasis resulting in a distortion of what I knew to be true.

      One day I asked myself, “If Time magazine gets it wrong on the subjects I know something about, what about the subjects I am ignorant of?”

      Soon I broke the family tradition, stopping the subscription and never reading Time again.

    • thefordperfect ==> Read essay first, comment second.
      The issue is not that the photos are faked — but that the event is misrepresented. The real event is “Government mobilizes Civil Defense forces to clean up capital beaches after storm”. After every storm, in fact.
      The Parley and NY Times pieces slime the DR’s tourist industry by implying that the situation exists on tourist beaches and generally on DR beaches. Neither is true.

  12. “The plastic waste washing onto Montesinos Beach comes from the Ozama River, which flows into the Caribbean nearby, one of those in charge of the cleanup, Gen. Rafael Antonio Carrasco, told Reuters.”

    read the article! this is a portion of the locally produced garbage. The rest gets washed out to sea to joing the international waste

    • thefordperfect ==> “The rest gets washed out to sea to joing the international waste” — you may not wish to accept my first hand, personal experience, eye-witness testimony — that is your privilege.
      But I assure you, off-shore of Santo Domingo there is very little, if any, floating plastic trash. I have never seen any trash off shore except after hurricanes.
      The vast majority of floating debris I have seen in my many cruises to and from the DR via the Bahamas have been items most likely blown or thrown off commercial ships or sport fishing boats.

      • ‘The vast majority of floating debris I have seen in my many cruises to and from the DR via the Bahamas have been items most likely blown or thrown off commercial ships or sport fishing boats.”

        How do you know that is the case, and that it did not originate locally?

        • Chris ==> Have you EVER been out to sea on any kind of boat? I’m afraid you are talking from a point of extreme lack of knowledge. I have spent more than 1/2 of — my adult life living at sea — the differences between what is used on seagoing vessels and domestic trash from shore are obvious. Boats lose plastic five-gallon pails, plastic fish crates, net buoys, commercial fishing gear.

    • Yep, the green scum is (are) getting worse.
      The NYT beach pic looks like the Greens have just finished one of their rallies.

  13. Oh well that’s all right then, I will just throw my plastic rubbish in the sea!

    (Plastics in the ocean is a problem, rather than pointing out alarmist drivel, why not join the valid fight against it.)

          • No, he is saying the idiotic attacks on a known issue (marine plastics) discredits the rest of the content here. You know, just like the point that someone made above about a misleading article in Time magazine causing him to stop reading the magazine altogether.

          • Exactly. It is demeaning for WUWT to do this, it makes a joke of it, discredits it, and makes a laughing stock of the readers when they can not differentiate between a blown up, hyped story about plastics in the ocean, and plastic in the ocean.

          • This is what passes for scientific discourse on WUWT. Matt posts about seeing plastics in the ocean near where he lives, and he gets 3 downvotes.

          • Chris

            This is what passes for scientific discourse on WUWT. Matt posts about seeing plastics in the ocean near where he lives, and he gets 3 downvotes.

            This is what passes for scientific discourse on CNN: CNN-NPR and the liberal national socialist parties worldwide ( and their enviro pets) claim there is a area the size of Texas in the Pacific of floating plastic. No such mass is seen from space, the air, or by ships, but CNN repeats the claim as needed. Tons of plastic ARE floating in hundreds of third-world, heavily-polluted, sewage-filled rivers that will be not be changed by California hysterical law allowing people to be arrested for handing out straws and re-cycling plastic grocery bags. CNN hysterically requires higher energy prices and restrictions on sewage plants, steel processing, transportation, roads, power lines, and pipelines, dams and water projects that WILL fix their hysterical plastic crisis!

          • Chris ==> every beach in the world will have some plastic on the beach — if you’d read the previous essay’s you’d already know this. Some of it comes in from shipping lanes off-shore, some is “tourist trash” — but is you scour a beach, you will be lucky to find more and a handful of pelagic plastic., most;ly itty-bitty pieces.

        • MattS old mate,
          Jump in a canoe at Long Beach and paddle across to Manilla and tell me how many bits of plastic you observe.
          My money is on zero.

          • toorightmate ==> On such a long voyage, his chances would be pretty good to see at least one of two items — our long-term rate is about one floating object every 1,500 nautical miles. (We log such things — out of general interest.)

          • I spend time each year on the Great Barrier Reef and have done so for the past 50 years.
            Despite not seeing any change in the health of corals , I have NEVER EVER seen any debris/plastic in the water.
            You do see a few water bottles on the cays/islands. Probably left by James Cook University researchers. They are a notorious mob of grubs..

          • I live near the sea and regularly see plastics washed up at the high tide mark with the sea weed.

          • MattS ==> Where do you live? See my earlier essays — I have samples of beach trash, Compare what you find with mine…let me know.

          • MattS ==> There are two separate issues with plastics — you could get caught up on the issues by reading my two previous essays on plastics in the oceans.

            The plastic on beaches is mostly a litter problem — people litter the beach and people litter their local streets — just like in the DR, street litter is washed into waterways and then into the sea, then blown up on the beach.

            It is a kindergarten rule to Pick Up After Yourself — this applies to your hometown as well. If the people of Devon would stop littering — and volunteer for beach cleanups — soon your local problem would almost entirely disappear.

    • MattS ==> See my two previous essays on Ocean Plastics — linked at the end of Quick Links below the main essay.

        • MattS ==> They each have a summary “Take Home Message” at the end. They are well worth reading. I’ll give you one, you’ll have to do your own homework on the other:
          “Take Home Message:

          We each need to do all we can to keep every sort of trash and plastic contained and disposed of in a responsible manner – this keeps it out of the oceans (and the rest of the natural environment).

          Volunteerism to clean up beaches and reefs is effective and worthwhile.

          Responsible boating includes keeping your trash (and especially plastics) under control and disposed of properly ashore.

          The “floating rafts of plastic garbage”-version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a pernicious myth that needs to be dispelled at every opportunity.

          Have a little more faith in “Nature” – the natural system finds a way to use most everything – in the case of oceanic plastics, as homes and food.

          The “missing 99% of the plastic in the oceans” has been eaten, mostly by bacteria and other microbes. These little critters will continue to eat the plastic and if we reduce the amount of plastic going into the oceans, they may eventually eat it all up.”

          • So you agree that:
            There are plastics in the oceans
            We need to stop putting it there

            So what are you arguing about? Where did I say the pacific plastic patch is real? Where did I say microbes dont break it down?

          • Kip,

            Responsible boating includes keeping your trash (and especially plastics) under control and disposed of properly ashore.

            Every couple years, I spend 3 or 4 days with a good college friend sailing around New England on his 40′(ish) sloop. He’s a true sailor (he likes to sniff, and turn his nose up at “stinkpots” we come across…), and amongst other habits necessary for spending time at sea, has drilled into our heads the necessity of trash control. Except, for him (and us, now) it goes well beyond the obvious litter of plastics, and extends to the idea that if it didn’t come from the sea it doesn’t go into the sea. So, no banana peels, apple cores, corn cobs, or etc get thrown overboard. As a former backpacker, this was a bit different as I would have considered organic “trash” as ok. Tossing an apple core into the woods as I hike, for example. (Hopefully this doesn’t trigger anyone…it’s liable to be a great little snack for a woodland rodent.) But, it’s a respect for the environment you’re in, I guess, and certainly makes sense to me.

            I guess I don’t really have a point…just commenting.


          • Rip ==> The secret truth is that anything that goes into the oceans becomes, eventually, food or a home for some plant or animal in the sea.

            There is a distinction, for some, between trash and garbage. Trash being paper, metal, plastic, tin cans, broken motor parts, — as opposed to garbage, which came from the galley — spoiled food, potato peels, vegetable bits, plate scrapings, etc.

            There is no real harm in feeding the ocean — very few organic items survive intact for very long — if they float, like a banana peel, the sun gets them along with the bacteria that love O2, then the algae then the crabs and other little animals and soon it is all gone. Sinking organics are either eaten on their way down or arrive at the bottom to feed the ooze dwellers or decompose.

            Inorganic things — engine blocks, for example — or even tin cans or aluminum soda/beer cans — become happy homes for small creatures.

            I once tried to snatch a beer can off the reef (we often collected litter while snorkeling) only to have it snatched back by the octopus that was using it as a “door” to its hidey-hole!

            Sunken boats rapidly turn into “reefs” covered with sea plants and animals and mobbed with fish. Even a single football sized rock on a bare sand bottom becomes a mini-reef supporting fish, crabs, and plants.

            I agree, when hiking, but unsightly organics are best dropped in a heel-kicked “cat hole” and covered lightly, just for appearances sake. Tins cans (who would carry tin cans hiking in the Sierras?) should be flattened and carried out. I don’t agree with the more rabid approaches that require one to carry own ones own feces.

    • Pointing out alarmist drivel is always worth doing, and requires no plastic rubbish to be put in the sea.

      If you wish to fight against plastic in the sea, it’s important to scope the problem and realistically evaluate the effects of proposed solutions. Alarmist drivel is helpful for neither task, but might promote doing expensive virtue signaling with no practical effect on the real problem, such as it is.

      • Plastics in the ocean IS a problem though, and pointing out alarmist, highly selective and distorted pieces like this one does not help the problem. All it does is demean WUWT .

        • MattS ==> Every time someone gets a false idea into their heads it makes them stupider….

          Pointing out false ideas in the press, and presenting people with correct information helps to correct this. It makes people less stupid.

          That’s why it is worth doing.

    • Sensible people agree that the big problems should be tackled first.

      If it’s such a big problem, why do those who advocate action have to lie about the severity of the problem?

      • MarkW ==> Self-importance and fund-raising,

        In the world of “what to do with all the trash?” — keeping trash (and specifically plastics) out of the ocean is a sub-topic.

    • MattS –

      China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand & Vietnam dump more plastic into oceans than the rest of the world combined.

      What’s your plan?

  14. A well-fed white bloke in London living with all modern conveniences slagging off a developing country based on hearsay and scurrilously false info. How much more racist can you get? The DR should sue the NYT for loss of earnings.

  15. The title of the NY Times is: ” Wave After Wave of Garbage Hits the Dominican Republic”, suggesting that the debris comes from the ocean. But who searches at google maps for the location, sees that some creeks of some 10-15 kilometers are ending at the polluted beach that is shown on the photos.

    Poor countries often have no public garbage collection service. If there is such a service, it is a private paid one. Poor people throw their stuff somewhere. It ends up at the beach of the mouth of the creek. It does not come from the ocean, as suggested.

    Of course there is plastic in the oceans and it shouldn’t be there. But ruin an economy of a poor country to get some attention for a newspaper has been a bad choice. The old high quality New York Times would have written an article about the need to improve garbage collection institutions in poor countries.

    • Wim ==> Refreshing to see someone has actually read the essay and gets the point.
      My previous essays have discussed all the facts about pelagic plastic. (see Quick Links)

    • Imagine how much real and effective garbage collection could have been paid for by the tiniest sliver of the money wasted on the CO2 myth.

  16. The DR is wonderful.
    Yeah Right.
    1) Prostitution is legal
    2) Most all resorts are All Inclusive. (No need to leave the resort, for a reason)
    3) Resorts are surrounded with walls and are gated, with security guards. (for a reason)
    4) Tourists are advised *not* to leave the compound unless on a guided tour or escorted. (for a reason)

    Go ahead, sail up to a deserted beach, look around, and tell us what a wonderful place the country is.

    • TonyL ==> “Prostitution is legal” — like in Nevada.
      “Tourists in New York city” are advised to avoid certain neighborhoods, especially after dark, and not to carry all of their cash with them, keep their wallets in a velcro’d pocket.
      I lived in the DR for ten years doing humanitarian work of varying kinds. It is a third world country in which the chasm between the rich and poor is enormous — like almost all of Latin America. Third World tourist rules apply in all of these countries.

      • Thanks for clarifying that the place is a third world crap hole.
        Compare and contrast the beautiful beaches of the DR with the beaches of the British Virgin Is., the Cayman Is., Barbados. First World tourist rules apply.

  17. Kip,
    We are, as usual, indebted to you for your objectivity and accuracy. As a fellow long-time Caribbean sailor (primarily the Lesser Antilles along with the East Coast of North America), I enjoy and value your experience, perspective and knowledge of the oceans and nautical matters.

    “Journalism” as currently practiced by NPR, the New York Times (a/k/a “Pravda”— see Francis Menton’s “The Manhattan Contrarian” blog), the WaPo, and much of print and broadcast media is the work of frustrated, self-appointed “world savers” who are, in far too many cases, latent dictators. At heart, they are little more than professional gossips and busybodies providing little-to-no value to the larger society.

    • John ==> It is my opinion that the NY Times and NPR have abandoned all pretense of professional journalism and have reverted to the openly-biased muck-raking yellow journalism of the days of yore.

  18. Literally just got back from Puerta Plata. Beaches are clean. (well, found one cup in the surf… more likely a jerk or wind blowing it in) than a bit of the great garbage patch

  19. Long Beach California has the same problem. Trash coming down from the Los Angeles River shows up in the marinas at the mouth. They have a boat designed to gobble up the floating trash, but it never goes away. But then again, Long Beach isn’t “third world” (yet).

    • rbabcock ==> Thanks for the First World comparison. It is mostly geography — rivers flow into oceans, bringing with them flotsam — trees, branches, bits of wood, escaped trash, dead animals. All over the world — same thing.
      The more “free living trash” the greater the problem at the river mouth.

  20. I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance and tried to correct their misconceptions about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. When I explained that even if you were in the midst of it, you would be hard pressed to see anything floating in the water. Much is subsurface or microscopic. But the visual conception most people have of a ‘garbage patch’ is a near continuous raft of debris. When I made these points to my friend they seemed crestfallen, as if I’d informed them there was no Easter Bunny. Some people seem to enjoy doom and gloom.

    • “Some people seem to enjoy doom and gloom.” Very many do! They will dismiss good news and embrace bad, it is really rather sad.

  21. Wow! This is the kind of “rest of the story” in-depth, follow-up that’s needed for every NYT and LAT advocacy article. I would not bother with articles from HuffPo or WaPo as a waste of time.

  22. Thanks for the post! My hunch is confirmed!

    A couple weeks ago, I noticed the uptick in these “we are drowning in trash, we are evil” catastrophe stories.

    Knowing the Communist MSM as I do, I decided to ponder what might really be going on.

    I thought about beach trash. A memory crossed my mind: enjoying the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. part, and seeing trash washed up with Spanish language. A food wrapper here, and a plastic bottle of laundry detergent there. This memory is from a few years ago. Somehow, the Celeste Blue color of the plastic bottle struck me as beautiful, although I also had a thought that Mexicans somewhere were maybe throwing trash overboard when boating, or trash had blown from some bin into the Gulf.

    FFW to a couple weeks ago. It occurred to me that, most likely, NEARLY ALL of this trash is NOT from the United States, BUT we Americans are the target of the guilt campaign.

    Everywhere I go in urban or suburban U.S. is well-appointed with TRASH CANS. This is an odd, but admirable, feature of my nation, and culture. Finish your banana or coffee in the airport, and how far do you have to look for a trash can? They are almost within 20 feet no matter where you are!

    So, if the U.S. is NOT the cause of all of this trash, why target us? Why take away MY straw? Why not target the Mexicans, the Dominicans, the Chinese?

    This is a shake-down for money, and to further plant GUILT in our minds, so we are more amenable to whatever control the Progs ask for.

    We already pay to manage our effluence. But most all of that is local. The Communists are going to find two ways to exploit this: funding from U.S. to battle this, across the world (like we fund U.N., NATO, and everybody else enjoys the perks), and funding to research the calamity of all of this trash.

    This post helps illustrate the suspicion I had, and told my wife. I am sure there is already, somewhere, an analysis that shows where the ocean’s trash comes from. And most won’t be from U.S. – but the solutions will almost surely be: U.S. gives up control gets taxed, and funds global research.

  23. Kip,

    Thanks, as always, for posting!

    But…you neglected to report on, probably, the most important detail of all: What is the best DR cigar?

    I anxiously await your response.


    • ripshin ==> I will point out that I am an alarmingly straight straight-shooter. Don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke (anything), don’t chase women (other than my wife). That makes the DR an odd place for me as they have arguably:
      1) The BEST RUM
      2) The BEST CIGARS
      (I said “arguably”, but don’t want to argue about it — that just means that one could sensibly argue for the point.)

      • Haha, fair enough.

        My visit to Nicaragua earlier this year leads me to believe that points 1 and 2 could reasonably be contended (as a Presbyterian, I hold firmly to the “all things in moderation” lifestyle), but would have no comment on point 3.

        Thanks again for the article.


  24. One would think that the great New York Times would seek a higher standard but we’ve learned again and again and again that the NYT has intentionally corrupted itself in its climate coverage. How has such a revered institution allowed itself to morph into a tool of professional advocates.

    This is pathetic behavior by a once-great institution. I guess the NYT has concluded that this type of pandering sells newspapers to idealogues and causists that constitute their target demographic. Why should I believe anything in this newspaper?

    • spalding craft ==> It is the journalism (lack of…) that interests me. This Times reporter in LONDON gets a email or whatever from Parley on the Oceans in NEW YORK “Hey, look, State of Emergency in the DR, plastic on the beach, link to our blog post” — journalist reads their alarmist story, Google’s a few images up from journalism photographers, searches the NY Times digital archive for “background”, finds a Reuters story with a quote from DR Civil Defense, and throws together a “story”.
      Hasn’t a clue about the Dominican Republic, never been to Santo Domingo, doesn’t even look up the reported location on the map,
      thinks “playa = beach = tourist beach” — botches the whole story. Doesn’t fact check the story from a known activist site.
      In short, gets gamed.
      But as some astute reader above pointed out — It matches the desired narrative, so it runs.

  25. Echo Chamber Magnifies Fake News ==> TIME magazine, echos NY Times, which echo’s Parley for the Oceans alarmist story.

    The story escalates into Waves of Garbage Are Covering the Dominican Republic’s Beaches in Trash piles of trash on “Montesinos Beach in the capital, Santo Domingo, as far as the eye could see. ”

    Another reporter taken in … didn’t look at a map, doesn’t realize Montesinos Beach is only as long as a football field. Claims “beaches” instead of “beach” — A couple of more echos and the whole country will have been buried in plastic trash…that’t how rumor-mongering fake journalism goes.

    Journalists should do the job they are paid — get the news — check the facts — report the real story.

    • I think “journalists” these days have become akin to stockbrokers and other salespeople; they’re paid for quantity— not quality.

  26. If this ‘journalist” wants dirty beaches all he has to do is go over the mountains to Haiti.

  27. Out of curiosity, I did a little internet checking on Cyrill Gutsch.

    The guy is a NYC clothing designer and an obvious phony. This little stunt is basically nothing more than a marketing gambit intended to attract gullible flies to his flypaper.

    The guy makes P. T. Barnum look like a piker.

  28. My family went to Punta Cana for Christmas in 2016 and it was gorgeous. Let’s hope the New Yorkers believe the Times and stay away!

    • Yowie ==> Thank you for the link — Playa Montesinos is not for tourists nor for swimming…. but across the river and around the breakwater is the beach reserved for Naval Officers and their families. Clean and beautiful…we were allowed in once as we had dome some humanitarian project with Civil Defense….

  29. Dominican Republic – a story bound to travel tourists on which a lot depends on their economy. Oh, the trash did not wash the Ozama, it does not rain, it does not affect the beaches.


    Jobs in the city cleaning services of the communities in the Dominican Republic.

    • Johann ==> The DR has a huge unemployment problem — and the government often hires huge teams of unskilled labor to do jobs like these — cleaning the shoreline, picking up trash along highways, shoveling mud brought down by torrential rains, etc.

      It is literally true that whole neighborhood are occasionally washed into the Ozama.

      • Kip: I don’t think we’re on confronting sides of the fence.

        Regards – Hans

        • Johann ==> I didn’t think so either….just filling in the landscape. It is perfectly true that the DR uses these kinds of “preventable” emergencies to hire the unemployed.

  30. Thank you for your blog post Kip. This has been on my mind for a few days now.

    As you described, it all started with Parley for the Ocean’s poorly crafted “#plasticmergency” blog and then media outlets from across the glob started to pick up the story without adding any context or actual facts. No mention of the recent storm, flooding or general issues with waste management etc. The New York Times piece though stands out as the most vile. The first 2 lines are cringe-worthy.

    I also do not appreciate Parley’s social media language which makes it sound as if they are primarily responsible for the clean up efforts. They may have helped, but they should not and cannot take almost full credit for the clean up efforts. My understanding is that more than 500+ tons was cleaned up and Parley was responsible for 30 tons. Plus, I’d say the damage they’ve done in painting the country as a dump and Dominicans as lazy, dirty, ignorant people who all dump trash in our rivers and oceans is greater than what little impact they may have had with one week’s worth of getting (mostly Dominican) volunteers to clean up.

    I contacted Parley for the Oceans a couple of days ago and I encourage others to do the same. They should be held accountable. Good intentions mean nothing if you they are unable to own up to mistakes and allow themselves to be held accountable.

    Here is the message I sent to Parley a few days ago:

    “I am saddened to see what you have done with the video footage Parley shot of the garbage in Sto Dgo after the recent storm in DR. You could have employed a more culturally competent and sensitive way of attracting attention to a very important global issue. The New York Times piece which quoted your founder saying “everybody uses the rivers and beaches as a a dumping site” was disgusting. Everybody? Really? Your media push raised awareness about plastics while also indirectly communicating to the entire world that Dominicans are trashy, backwards people that need saving. This may not have been your intent, but I think impact is far more important. Nobody cares more about this issue than Dominicans who have to live with it. (Not every Dominican, of course. Blanket statements and over-generalizations are dangerous aren’t they?) You’ve done us a great disservice and serious harm to a nation that relies on tourism. Surely there was a more responsible way to message this! I believe you owe the nation an apology.”

    Thanks again!

    Disclaimer: Like approx. 97% of climate scientists , I agree that climate change is real and attributable to human activity.

    • Norita ==> Par;ley for the Oceans had absolutely zero to do with the cleanup as far I can tell. All the workers in photos are Dominican Civil Defense employees.

  31. Kip, I have a place just outside of Sosua and have visited the beautiful beaches on both the Caribbean and Atlantic sides. Why would a paper like the NYT smear a little country like this to promote the awful narratives of these mean times.

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