Yet Another Man-made Crisis

Opinion by Kip Hansen – January 1st 2022

Just in time to ring in the New Year – a New Crisis!

CRISIS / ˈkraɪ sɪs /  : 

”a situation that has reached a critical phase”

 or, alternately,”specific, unexpected, and non-routine events or series of events that [create] high levels of uncertainty and threat or perceived threat to [a society’s] high priority goals.”

And, of course, this crisis is man-made.  Man-made in two senses: 

1) Caused by something that mankind is doing


2) is a situation that ordinarily would be considered an interesting problem that has been declared a CRISIS! by a couple of dozen well-positioned single-issue advocates. 

These crisis-creating advocates are endowed with societal clout by the fact that they are Scientists.   Not only scientists but scientists who have been (self-) appointed to an important committee of an important scientific organization.   Which of the all-so-important scientific bodies?  The august, venerated, always absolutely correct and perfectly reliable U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, more regularly referred to simply as The National Academies

They, not the National Academies itself, but the members of the “Committee on the United States Contributions to Global Ocean Plastic Waste”, have stated plainly and upfront:

“In the United States, ocean plastic waste has become a top public concern, but the developing plastic waste crisis has been building for decades.”

And of what is this crisis of ocean plastic waste made up of? 

“Sampling on the ocean’s surface has allowed scientists to assess the large-scale accumulation of floating debris across ocean basins, which occurs in ocean gyres in both the northern and southern hemispheres. These accumulation zones, commonly referred to as “garbage patches,” are mainly composed of microplastics that have broken apart from larger items, although large floating debris (especially derelict fishing gear, including nets, floats, and buoys) is also found.” [ source ]

You may be confused by the language used, even if you are a native English speaker.  The “large scale accumulation” is not “of floating debris across ocean basins” at all, though the report expressly makes that claim, while simultaneously clarifying that the non-existent (but ever so popular in advocacy propaganda) garbage patches “are mainly composed of microplastics that have broken apart from larger items”.

Just what are these dangerous microplastics?  They are bits of plastic that are 4 to 120 micrometers in size.How big is that in inches (it is, after all, the U.S. National Academies)

From one and a half ten-thousandths of an inch all the way up to five one -thousandths of an inch.

To see microplastics, you generally need a microscope. Your eye can discern a grain of fine sand, if you place it on a sheet of paper with a contrasting color and you would be able to see a bit of microplastic at 120um if similarly displayed (well, you younger people could, I could not).  But even the young cannot see something only 4um in diameter without the aid of a microscope. 

Almost all of the created-crisis-creating plastic pollution in the oceans is so small that you cannot see it.  This admission aligns well with my personal experience.  Like Nils-Axel Mörner, I am a dedicated fan of the “Oh yeah? Let me see for myself”-school of evidence.  Until I retired five years ago, I had spent one half of my adult life living on the sea on boats and ships, both as a professional mariner and as Captain of my own vessels.  I have a lot of sea miles under my belt.  To actually see something floating on the surface of the sea is so very rare that it invariably calls for closer inspection at least by binoculars or at other times by a brief divergence from one’s intended course to “go have a look”.  Failing to investigate an object large enough to be seen at any distance was considered negligent by the Captains I have served under and I have followed suit when I was the Captain.  The “garbage patch” is a fraudulent invention – a fantasy.

Here is a view of the worst area of the pacific Garbage Patch:

You can read the entire 211-page National Academies’ report “Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste (2021)in .pdf format by downloading it here.

The truest thing in the report is represented in this image (originally from Law  2017):

It at least shows that oceanic plastic, where found, fragments into smaller and smaller pieces and then undergoes (albeit with a “?”) biodegradation.  Bio-what? Plastic are not forever as they wish you to believe, but are broken down into smaller and smaller pieces and then into simpler and simpler chemical compounds, they are literally eaten by microbes and itty-bitty living things in the sea. 

The image below explains the repeated findings of trolling sieve nets through the sea to search for pelagic (ocean going) plastic – under a certain size, the number of plastic bits, which should be increasing exponentially as larger bits break into many smaller bits, sharply drops to zero as size decreases.  Like ice chips in a glass of water, as size decreases, the ratio between surface area and volume increases.  The biota eating the plastic bit from the outside in eventually end up consuming the entire little bit. 

In every ocean basin, as particle size decreases through natural fragmentation, especially when the size drops below 0.5 mm, the number of findable plastic particles rapidly approaches zero.  Plastic Waste Crisis advocates simply don’t mention this glaring scientific fact – it doesn’t contribute to their agenda.

The trumpeted crisis of Microplastics! involves bits of plastic that are 4 to 120 micrometers in size – 4um is 0.004 mm and 120um is 0.12mm – both below the vanishing point on the graph above. 

If you read the Academies report, you will discover that the whole crisis is based on the new and developing ability to detect such small bits of plastic – the amount of plastic entering the oceans used in the report are, even by the most lenient scientific standards, mere wild-ass guesses.   These SWAGs are then used in over-confident computer models to create further alarming estimates of total number of microplastic bits and potential harms, despite very few documented cases of any real harm at all (Creatures can become entangled floating masses of discarded fishing nets and the like, but not with microplastics).  As with other invented crises, the presence of a thing alone is defined as harm. 

Bottom Lines:

1.  There is no crisis of any kind whatever involving plastics.  Any claims to the contrary are fantasies.

2.  Plastics are just another type of hydrocarbon compound, many created and used because of their ability to survive intact under many conditions and survive for long periods of time.  Both are features not bugs.

3.  It is not true that “Plastics are Forever”.  Plastics degrade, breakdown, and are literally consumed by Earth’s lifeforms, which are all carbon based.

4.  Plastics are made from petroleum and its byproducts.  The petroleum converted to plastics instead of being burnt for energy sequesters that carbon for long periods of time just like trees ….and eventually is broken down by Nature into other chemical compounds, such as methane.

5.  However, Kindergarten Rules apply at all stages and areas of life:  Pick up after yourself — clean up your own messes.  Thus, we need to do all we can to keep every sort of trash, including plastics, contained and disposed of in a responsible manner – this keeps it out of the oceans and the rest of the natural environment. 

6. Plastics are valuable and should be recycled whenever possible into useful and valuable commodities, such as replacements for lumber in decking, shipping pallets, etc.  Plastics that cannot be recycled are valuable sources of energy when burnt in properly designed clean Waste-to-energy plants.

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

I have written a lot about plastics over the last decade.  You can find many of these essays using this link

None of our society’s waste belongs in the ocean – or on the roadside or in the woods.  But creating a crisis from almost nothing is not helpful. 

Lady Bird Johnson taught my generation to “put your trash in the trash bin” and I have had a life-long habit of placing candy wrappers and other bits of trash in my back pockets – often to the annoyance of my wife. 

The oceanic plastic waste hobby-horse is an outgrowth of all the other anti-petroleum madness.

By the way, while floating masses of discarded fishing nets and plastic ropes are a hazard to maritime shipping because they can become entangled in ship’s propellers – which I know from sad personal experience – they are also floating reefs and make wonderful habitat for innumerable sea creatures on the high seas. 

Hoping you all have a prosperous, productive and healthy New Year.

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

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Ed Hanley
January 1, 2022 2:29 am

“In the United States, ocean plastic waste has become a top public concern, but the developing plastic waste crisis has been building for decades.”


In a 2020 poll by the World Wildlife Foundation, only 16% of respondents ranked ocean plastics as a “Top 5 Concern.” Top public concern? No

A “developing plastic waste crisis” is, by definition, one that has not developed yet. That it has been “building for decades” suggests it may continue building for more decades before it can reasonably be measured as a “developed”, i.e. existential, crisis.

Top takeaway from this excellent article: Don’t foul your own nest. Put candy wrappers in your back pocket. And have a great, happy New Year!

Patrick healy
Reply to  Ed Hanley
January 1, 2022 2:47 am

Indeed another great take from the Skipper Wills.
Mind you over here in Grupen Furer Sturgeons Scotland, there are so many discarded Dog Muzzles (Chinese made face nappies) floating around that we could well have “a developing plastic crisis”
In any case A Happier New Year to all.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Patrick healy
January 1, 2022 5:49 am

“here in Grupen Furer Sturgeons Scotland”

That made me laugh! 🙂

Rod Evans
Reply to  Patrick healy
January 1, 2022 6:01 am

We call those pointless face muzzles nappies here in the U.K.
With that in mind.
Nappy New Year to all wearers!
The term bed wetter never seemed more appropriate.😀

Reply to  Patrick healy
January 1, 2022 11:36 am

No need to worry about the great pacific garbage patch, it seems this blog is infested with us Jocks. 🤣

patrick healy
Reply to  HotScot
January 1, 2022 1:01 pm

Well Hottie if living among (and loving) Jocks for 42 years makes me one, then I am more than pleased at the honour.
Thank you
and a happy New Year.

Sam Capricci
Reply to  Ed Hanley
January 1, 2022 3:55 am

I think Steve Martin put it best when he was quoting what he learned from the great maharishi yogi, “never, no always put a litter bag in your car, when it gets full you can just roll down the window and toss it out.”

Reply to  Sam Capricci
January 1, 2022 4:53 am

when i was riding in a car with a tico in costa rica he told me : always throw your trash in a clean mans yard ….that way you know it’ll get cleaned up .

Reply to  Ed Hanley
January 1, 2022 7:56 am

It’s way easier to find something to “FIGHT” against that people can’t even see. If you have trash laying around in your city, people can see if you’re getting rid of it, thus “winning”. Injustice, Climate, “racism”, CO2 and “microplastics” are all great in this regard, they can’t be seen (global warming will be most notable at the poles), so you can’t really see if they’re getting anywhere, or not, it’s all on their word.

John Endicott
Reply to  max
January 4, 2022 9:11 am

Hey now, Greta can see CO2. Her mother said so.

Reply to  Ed Hanley
January 1, 2022 10:57 am

Ever anxious to blame Americans for the world’s problems, the microplastics alarmists ignore all the obvious and inconvenient details. In the United States, western Europe, and all anglophile countries around the world, dumping of raw sewage and trash into waterways has been banned for many decades. So where are all the microplastics in the oceans coming from?

Poor, underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa are the primary sources of bulk plastic waste. As they become wealthy they will probably clean up their act as most post-industrial countries have. Large plastic waste seen washed up on beaches in plastic waste posters comes primarily from these countries and are found mostly on their beaches. Also contributing is commercial fishing gear and containers washed overboard from ships.

Plastic waste in waterways and on beaches (think plastic grocery bags and straws) is a non-problem in wealthy countries, except from careless litterbugs. There are regulations and fines, but you can’t catch everyone or compel everyone to be thoughtful. Banning plastics (grocery bags and straws) introduces other, often more consequential, problems that those plastic products had mitigated. Plastic products are often the best (current) solution. Despite regulations, microplastics are found in waterways of pollution-regulated countries. Since plastic waste is primarily incinerated or disposed in landfills, the source is speculated to be polymer beads used as cosmetic product additives.

Sampling instruments are now sensitive enough to detect minute quantities of plastics, raising concerns among the perpetually concerned, though there is no evidence that these cause harm. Undaunted, the worriers are on the attack and “endocrine disruptor” is the new pseudoscience battlefield. If you’ve followed the wackadoodle “science” invoked to try to ban beneficial chemicals like glyphosate (Roundup weed killer) you’ll know what I mean.

Mark Broderick
January 1, 2022 2:32 am

Kip Hansen

“(Creatures can become entangled ( in? ) floating masses of discarded fishing nets and the like, but not with micro-plastics).

Great post..

Reply to  Mark Broderick
January 1, 2022 9:21 am

And theses [sic]:

“And of what is this crisis of ocean plastic waste made up of?”

“They are bits of plastic that are 4 to 120 micrometers in size.How big is that in inches (it is, after all, the U.S. National Academies)”

– need a space between “size.” and “How,” and probably a “?” at the end of the sentence.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 7:54 pm

Kip ==> Lean on me, when you’re not [editorially] strong!

Happy New Year!

Craig from Oz
Reply to  sycomputing
January 1, 2022 5:06 pm

Yes, but how big a space? 🙂

Reply to  Craig from Oz
January 1, 2022 7:57 pm

Craig, my brother from DownUnder, I’m not sure why but I’m somehow . . . uncomfortable . . . with this question?

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2022 2:43 am

There is a systematic failure you didn’t mention that has lead to a Lot of plastic “recycled” material being washed into the oceans. Plastic recycling is often not done in the country where it’s generated due to costs to process and the value of the recycled material vs. virgin plastic. It’s sent to third world countries to deal with who have poor storage and containment. Perhaps the developed world simply needs to stop exporting its waste streams.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Sean
January 1, 2022 3:18 am

China won’t take it anymore. Soon enough they’ll be shipping their waste to us.

John Endicott
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 4, 2022 9:14 am

Why not, we’ve been buying their trash (things with the label “made in China”) for years /sarc

January 1, 2022 2:44 am

Crisis is a prominent term in the [climate alarm] style guides Ramp it up

A light breeze becomes a deadly storm etc. Let’s give it a name.

So many words are being rendered meaningless in an attempt to make it seem far worse than it is and keep the crisis narrative going

“ In the United States, ocean plastic waste has become a top public concern”

Yeah, right.

Ron Long
January 1, 2022 2:45 am

Good report by an actual observer of the marine environment, which type of reporting is fairly rare these days. In my world-wide travels I have witnessed a great variety of cultural tendencies as regards litter. I am sure fishermen don’t want to lose their nets so they are likely self-regulating, but the other portions of some cultures throw stuff away, down, off, up, etc, without regard to consequences. I would like to see some of the “Save the Planet” types go into these cultures and try to make a difference. Probably end up kidnapped for ransom.

January 1, 2022 2:52 am

Spot on, Kip.
Like you I have had to deal with fouled propellers not from discarded lines but lines between pots or creels and their unlit marker bouys.But on beaches the problem looks much greater than it really is and the volunteers who do the beach clean ups do a great job. My experience is that a lot of the stuff found on beaches has blown away in car parks etc, gone into the local river and ended up on an estuary beach.
I see that Dr. Moore agrees with you in his recent book on climate myths.

And lang may a’bodies lums reek.

Reply to  Oldseadog
January 1, 2022 11:33 am

Awa an bile yer heid unless yer ma tall dark and an hansom first footer wi some drink, fuel and a bit O’Clootie dumplin.

January 1, 2022 3:00 am

A level headed denunciation of the plastic pollution problem.

The alarmist screams of plastic pollution are a dog whistle response to a non problem. The dictionary definition of pollution includes its use to describe waste and rubbish, which is all it is. This problem can be done away with by simply tidying up.

It only became of interest to environmentalists after China refused to take any more waste plastic if it wasn’t 99.5% sorted first. Some coincidence.

Plastic isn’t poisonous, toxic or carcinogenic. Small particles entering any life form simply go in one end and out of the other. You could eat a McDonald’s plastic toy every day and apart from odd shaped poo, suffer nothing adverse…_

Reply to  DiggerUK
January 1, 2022 8:05 am

But because a lot of people get their “science” from watching fiction, “everybody knows” that microplastics have saturated the bodies of all living beings. And that must have harmful effects (Dr. Who plot).

Reply to  Mark
January 1, 2022 1:52 pm

While I haven’t paid any attention, I’ve been told by some who are concerned that there are many published reports of actual physical research that finds micro plastic bits in many body tissues. Regardless of one’s feelings or beliefs, this is either objectively true or not true and will not change no matter how loud someone proclaims it to be otherwise.

Likewise, while, if true, this sounds unfriendly as it certainly can’t be a natural state to have internal foreign cell litter. If it exists it is objectively either harmful or irrelevant to proper biological functioning which can only be determined by careful research.

John Endicott
Reply to  Mark
January 4, 2022 9:20 am

That wasn’t Dr. Who, that was Dr. Woke.

January 1, 2022 3:01 am


Excellent essay. When you put things in relative context you can see clearly that there is actually nothing to see or be concerned about!

As for “Like Nils-Axel Mörner, I am a dedicated fan of the “Oh yeah? Let me see for myself”-school of evidence.” Well … I can relate to that in a big time way!

Joseph Zorzin
January 1, 2022 3:15 am

The film Don’t Look Up- had a very brief view of “the ocean garbage patch”- which showed large chunks of garbage- so fresh, as if it was just dumped into a swimming pool. No doubt that’s how they filmed it.

Uncle Mort
January 1, 2022 3:35 am

Long term pollution of science is what we should worry about. That’s where the really problematic garbage patches are.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Uncle Mort
January 1, 2022 7:54 am

Long term pollution of science is what we should worry about. That’s where the really problematic garbage patches are.

Not patches: islands. Like icebergs, most of them is not seen because it is below the surface.

January 1, 2022 3:49 am

A Huge, Floating Screen Will Sift Plastic out of the Ocean

If the prototype is successful, a full-scale 100-kilometer-long barrier will be strung out in the Pacific Ocean to collect some 68 million kilograms of floating trash

June 24, 2016

Remember when Scientific American was an interesting and authoritative publication?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Speed
January 1, 2022 4:08 am

Remember when Scientific American was an interesting and authoritative publication?


But then again, I’m old enough to remember when Michael Jackson was black,.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 1, 2022 5:02 am

IMHO, Scientific American jumped the shark The Strategic Defense Initiative, AKA Star Wars.

Alan M
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
January 1, 2022 5:13 am

Geez I can just remember when he was alive 😀

Reply to  Speed
January 1, 2022 5:27 am

i think this is dutch kid boyan slat who raised over 50 million $ and succeeded in removing approximately 1 garbage truck’s worth of plastic using two large diesel powered ships to haul his net

Joao Martins
Reply to  Speed
January 1, 2022 7:57 am


Like sifting CO2 out of the atmosphere (the “technical” term is “sequestration”, I suppose).

Reply to  Speed
January 1, 2022 10:44 am

”collect some 68 million kilograms of floating trash”….yes and the special open bottom shallow net design will only collect a few million kilograms of squid, sea turtles, rays, jellyfish, etc….

January 1, 2022 4:04 am

Funny, US is not the source of this “problem”, Africa, Asia and South America are. What, exactly can we do to force them to stop dumping crap in rivers and oceans? Not much of anything. So this is simply another load of leftarded shyte spew aimed at steal other people’s money.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  2hotel9
January 1, 2022 5:57 am

I was a little surprised to see that it looks like the South Atlantic has the most plastic. I would have thought the North Pacific would have been the highest on the chart, after reading recent stories in the news about plastic pollution in the oceans and how most of it was coming out of rivers in Asia.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 2, 2022 6:12 am

Every couple of months they change where they claim all this plastic is. Each time their claims are debunked they just move to another grid square at the corner of No and Where and just screech their crap louder. Funny thing is oceans are eating plastic waste, just like they eat crude oil and processed oil. These lie spewing clowns have no idea what the environment and climate are doing or are capable of doing.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  2hotel9
January 1, 2022 6:22 am

Thank you. This problem is caused by 3rd world countries dumbing their trash in the water when they could use it as fuel in well controlled waste-to-energy facilities and solve some of their energy shortage and keep the oceans clean.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
January 1, 2022 10:47 am

Their dumps are already on fire…bulldozing the burning garbage bags into the river or ocean is how they control the fire….

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
January 1, 2022 1:56 pm

For how may million bucks per citizen?

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
January 2, 2022 6:03 am

Making college mis-educated white women feel guilty about the actions of others is a winning strategy for the left, as this clearly shows.

Kevin Stall
January 1, 2022 4:05 am

Everytime you see pictures of the suppose crisis it is pictures from The third world. There is no crisis in the West. Bring back our plastic straws, tired of having paper ones collapse.

Alan M
Reply to  Kevin Stall
January 1, 2022 5:16 am

Yeah paper straws just suck don’t they, hey wait a minute

Reply to  Kevin Stall
January 1, 2022 5:23 am

something like 90% of floating plastic trash comes from a handful of rivers in asia

Reply to  garboard
January 1, 2022 6:34 am

That 90% comes from a well-known study that didn’t clearly spell out where all ocean plastic comes from. The study is only for “River-borne” plastic. Marine-borne, lost from ships and fishing vessels, etc., accounts for roughly 20% (estimate) of oceanic plastic, and land-based the rest. Of the “land-based”, that which gets to the ocean only via rivers is the object of the study. While 90% of the river-borne plastic comes from those 10 rivers, the total river-borne plastic is a much smaller percent, anywhere from 5-30% (large uncertainty in the estimate) of all land-borne plastic (80% of all plastic) that eventually gets to sea. While it is still a significant amount, the 90% number is a subset of a subset, i.e., river-borne a subset of all land-borne, which is a subset of all (land plus marine) -borne plastic. Taking a mid-range of the estimates, that “90%” is probably in the 10-25% range of all ocean plastic origins. Still a lot.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 11:38 am

on my way to bermuda last fall south of new england i fouled about 50 feet of tangled poly line attached to a plastic float. damn ! don’t know how it got wrapped on my feathered ( not spinning ) prop but i had to go overboard to clear it .

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Kevin Stall
January 1, 2022 5:53 am

I remember telling a young zealot that paper straws are rubbish and small and not so small children would need about 5 to finish an average size drink.. That provoked a furious reaction. Now that they have practical experience they know what I was talking about

Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 4:57 am

From the article: “CRISIS / ˈkraɪ sɪs / ”

That’s strange. I pronounce it” kri sis. I see no reason for the “a” to be in there. I’m wondering why there is an “a” in there?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 5:43 am

Elite Yankee speak?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 6:25 pm

It helps to be bilingual in English here on WUWT.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 8:09 am

Like the u in colour, anywhere but the US.

Reply to  max
January 1, 2022 10:56 am


As opposed to Tire, which is exhausting………………..

Reply to  HotScot
January 1, 2022 6:29 pm

Try telling a Phoenician that Tyre is a round object with a hole in the middle.

Ed Bo
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 8:22 am


The “long I” sound in English is a diphthong – a blend of two fundamental sounds: “ah-ee” or “uh-ee” depending on the following consonant, if any. That is what this formal phonetic description is denoting.

(If a vowel sound is a diphthong, you cannot “hold” it for an extended period, as in a long musical note. Good songwriters recognize this.)

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ed Bo
January 2, 2022 8:04 am

Thanks for that explanation, Ed.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 9:23 am

In the international phonetic alphabet, what we in the US call “long i” is represented as “aɪ”, basically ah-ee blended together.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 2, 2022 8:05 am

It’s a lot more complicated than I thought. 🙂

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 2, 2022 12:04 pm

Aye 😜

January 1, 2022 5:03 am

remember when that dutch kid “ invented “ a floating machine to clean up ocean plastics . ? to anyone who’d ever spent any time on the ocean it was clearly ridiculous . nevertheless he got massive publicity and millions of dollars . it never did work

Reply to  garboard
January 1, 2022 10:54 am

Apparently he’s still going, with a new, improved model.

Rich Davis
Reply to  HotScot
January 1, 2022 11:15 am

Well what else can he do after wasting $5 million of OPM? Admit the problem was a hoax?

Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 5:17 am

From the article: “Failing to investigate an object large enough to be seen at any distance was considered negligent by the Captains I have served under and I have followed suit when I was the Captain.”

What do you do if you spot an object big enough to be a hazard to other ships?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 3:18 am

That reminds me of the Falklands War. After it ended, HMS Conqueror was returning via the Caribbean when she came across a wrecked yacht. Having rescued the crew, according to the Daily Telegraph, the wreck was sunk by fire from the deck gun. Only problem was, no British nuclear submarine has ever had a deck gun!

I still read the Telegraph – I just don’t believe all (any?) they write.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 8:10 am

I’m reminded of Sir Francis Chichester and his solo sail across the oceans, and him hitting an object in the water at night that almost brought his trip to an end. He never did identify the object he hit, speculating it could have been a tree washed out to sea or something of similar size.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 3, 2022 3:58 am

It was a good book. It made me want to sail alone around the world. Until I read the part about running into mysterious objects in the middle of the night. 🙂

Ben Vorlich
January 1, 2022 5:32 am

I have had a life-long habit of placing candy wrappers and other bits of trash in my back pockets – often to the annoyance of my wife.

Me too, and it annoys my wife when I don’t remove them

Steve Case
January 1, 2022 5:35 am

“…I am a dedicated fan of the “Oh yeah? Let me see for myself”-school of evidence.”

You can Google “Garbage Patch” [Images] and get an entirely different story.

I have elsewhere read that those images dredged up by Google aren’t from the so-called high seas.

Anyone who was in the Navy fifty years ago is familiar with this nightly announcement:

   “Sweepers, Sweepers, man your brooms.
   Sweep down all decks, ladders and passageways!
   Take all trash and garbage to the fantail!”

The fifty year old Navy experience aside, recent ocean cruises don’t turn up miles and miles of floating debris.

Our world is full of so much media exaggeration, cherry picking and propaganda that it’s difficult for the average person sitting in front of their computer screen to discern the truth.

Steve Case
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 9:43 am

Thanks, I’ve bookmarked the link. Here’s the LINK to the Wayback Machine version

Philip Mulholland.
January 1, 2022 5:40 am

Typo: trolling trawling

Tom Abbott
January 1, 2022 5:47 am

From the article: “(Creatures can become entangled floating masses of discarded fishing nets and the like, but not with microplastics).”

About the fishing nets, do they concentrate in certain areas of the ocean?

You said at another point that nets make good habitat for some life, but is that a reason to leave the nets in the ocean? It seems like to me that it would be better to remove all the fishing nets we could find.

Btw, great article, worthy of rolling out every time we see plastics being hyped as a crisis.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 3:24 am

I suspect such masses fairly quickly become so weighted down that they sink to the bottom.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 8:14 am

Thanks, Kip.

I just hate to see whales and other creatures caught up in the nets.

The good news is if humans spot such a thing, they usually take some action to try to help the animals.

January 1, 2022 5:49 am

Nice analysis. ‘Put your trash in a trash bin!’ – it’s amazing the anger and and energy that goes into this – visible trash. I see pictures and videos of someone not picking up their trash, and the comments are horrible. People call for executions for leaving some wrappers behind! I’m all for neatness, but the same thing happens on land! A layer of leaves and wet, sunlight, and in a few years all that trash has become soil!

Brian Pratt
January 1, 2022 6:04 am

The Trudeau government recently re-announced their list of soon-to-be banned plastic items, in order to keep us Canadians safe and to show how *good* we are and how marvellous they are. A slide from my first-year geology lecture I put together three years ago, from the part where I talk about ocean currents, from a back-of-the-envelope calculation I did one morning. Whether I have actually succeeded to enlighten a few open minds, I don’t know.

January 1, 2022 6:10 am

99% of the plastic microparticles are made of inert organic polymers. Most of them cannot be discerned by a naked eye among heaps of natural sand. There is no harm to be worried more about touching, breathing or ingesting them inadvertently instead of natural sand or dust.
A lot of human protheses are made with plastics, many of them staying in place in one’s body during a full life. Plastics are an integral and essential part of men’s life.
Contrary to a widespread opinion, once they become the size of a microparticle, there are several natural bacteria which are able to metabolize and degrade them into simple hydrocarbon chemicals up to carbon dioxide and water.

Reply to  Jack
January 1, 2022 10:48 am

Plastic grocery bags were invented to save trees from being turned into paper grocery bags.

Lets use a product that would otherwise go entirely unused i.e. coal, gas oil etc. to make something to save trees.

Excellent logic.

But the greens would rather America chopped down forests to manufacture wood pellets (using fossil fuels) then transport said pellets on fossil fuelled ships across the Atlantic, to feed the Drax power station in the UK, which emits more CO2 from burning wood pellets than it did when it burned coal.

Not good logic.

January 1, 2022 6:49 am

This is from memory, from a recent peer-reviewed scientific article: A very high percentage of ocean plastics originates from rivers in third world countries. Recyclers are supposedly paid for recycling plastics but in fact that plastic is let loose in the environment and ultimately ends up in the sea.

The best way to mitigate plastics is high temperature incineration close to the user’s home, to reduce the probability of that plastic getting lost on the way to the incinerator.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 11:47 am

There’s some difference between a peer-reviewed scientific report and an urban legend.

90% of Ocean Plastic Disaster Caused by Third World Pollution | National Vanguard

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 3:34 am

I can’t speak for Asia, but I did a fair bit on the Niger and offshore. The custom in the bankside villages was to pile the rubbish up and let the rising flood (about 10m) wash it away.

Leo Smith
January 1, 2022 8:33 am

The irony is power stations can burn plastics

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 1, 2022 10:51 pm

ahhhh… sorta. It has to be below a certain amount and mixed in with other abrasive combustion materials or it will literally gum-up the works. It does pyrolyze nicely into combustible gasses but that’s a whole different and heat wasteful process… it’s just about as good as turkey butchering offal in the pyrolyzing process.

Gordon A. Dressler
January 1, 2022 8:35 am

Methinks the members of the “Committee on the United States Contributions to Global Ocean Plastic Waste” are offering up complete propaganda—some would call it BS—with their claim (as quoted in the above article) that:
“In the United States, ocean plastic waste has become a top public concern . . .”

Over the last several years, I have read quite a few listings of polls/surveys of the top ten, or even the top 20-25, concerns of “the public”. You know, those listings of “What are people most worried about today?”

I can confidently state that I have never seen a single instance that “plastic waste in the ocean(s)” has been on any such list of concerns of US citizens that I have read.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 1, 2022 2:12 pm

Silly you, It isn’t citizen opinions that are important. Like appointed bureaucrats, the really important “public” are the self declared activists.

H. D. Hoese
January 1, 2022 8:35 am

I used to study flying fish on the bow. “To actually see something floating on the surface of the sea is so very rare that it invariably calls for closer inspection at least by binoculars or at other times by a brief divergence from one’s intended course to “go have a look”. Solution is to pass (or study) a bill you have to got experience the claim. “This report responds to a request in the bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act for a scientific synthesis of the role of the United States both in contributing to and responding to global ocean plastic waste.”

Anybody that has ever put out most any material for experimental purposes in the ocean, even in estuaries, has had problems with waves, currents, fouling, you name it. This paper has a number of references, including citations. We put out all sorts of “junk” for artificial reefs, even floating material, most work, rubber not so much. Problem with plastics is they mostly degrade too fast to be good habitat for goose-neck barnacles. A lot of our problems are increasing abilities to measure. Are they doing virus PCR tests on microplastics?

Chapman, M. G. and B. G. Clynick. 2006. Experiments testing the use of waste material in estuaries as habitat for subtidal organisms. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 338(2) :164-178.      Open Access

January 1, 2022 9:05 am

I can’t believe the ignorance displayed by this article – it is precisely because these micro plastics are small that they are a threat – they get ingested by many sea creatures, birds and further down the line even us humans…

A handy summary…
Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health (

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
January 1, 2022 9:13 am

Micro organisms eat micro plastics because they are food to them

Same way micro organisms clean up oil spills.

Maybe you should do something useful with your time and oppose recycling programs in western countries that collect plastics then pay contractors in the third world to manage them which they do by just burning them on open ground but also by dumping them into the oceans.

If not for that there would be no ocean plastic patch at all

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  griff
January 1, 2022 9:34 am

Geez Griff, you need to read your links before posting them. Nothing in your link has any specific harms called out for animals or humans and is completely devoid of any definitive conclusions. The whole thing amounts to “possibly, maybe, perhaps, and this needs more study, send us money.

Reply to  griff
January 1, 2022 10:37 am

Plastics are indigestible to humans and animals. They pass straight through the gut, just like those seeds from the nice healthy bread I eat.

You are a 🤡 griff.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  griff
January 1, 2022 10:44 am

Griff, thanks for the link. I have been wondering about this since sea turtles have been implicated as confusing plastics with jellyfish despite the success with increasing turtle numbers. One good example is numerous Ridley’s during the Texas freeze, big problem. I am sure there is a lot more to this but I have yet to run into an oyster paper with the problem, despite reading them by uncounted numbers.

“In humans the risk of microplastic ingestion is reduced by the removal of the
gastrointestinal tract in most species of seafood consumed. However, most species
of bivalves and several species of small fish are consumed whole, which may lead
to microplastic exposure. A worst case estimate of exposure to microplastics after
consumption of a portion of mussels (225 g) would lead to ingestion of 7 micrograms
(µg) of plastic, which would have a negligible effect (less than 0.1 percent of total dietary
intake) on chemical exposure to certain PBTs and plastic additives.

Curious George
Reply to  griff
January 1, 2022 1:01 pm

And COVID shots are absolutely safe 🙂

Pat from kerbob
January 1, 2022 9:09 am

Patrick Moore has a great chapter on this in his latest book

Hoyt Clagwell
January 1, 2022 9:39 am

I remember when the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” story first hit the news. It was full of claims like “plastic littering the ocean as far as the eye could see”, and “beaches piled 5 feet high with garbage”, and “garbage collecting into islands”.
This article helps explain why I could never find photographs of any of these things.

Rich Davis
January 1, 2022 9:40 am

Let’s talk about the real crisis—the accumulation of dihydrogen monoxide in all the ocean basins! And DHMO is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2.

Reply to  Rich Davis
January 1, 2022 10:33 am

And it’s a killer!

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 1, 2022 2:55 pm

Hey, don’t fool around with that stuff! I heard they use it as coolant in nuclear reactors.

Nick Graves
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
January 2, 2022 2:13 am

No, that’s oxygen dihydride.

They also use it in automotive cooling systems and it can cause terrible burns.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Nick Graves
January 2, 2022 12:34 pm

Some have tried to market it with that deceptive trade name. We have also found some shills of the DHMO industry calling it hydrogen hydoxide, which is chemically accurate, but obviously the goal is to make it sound less chemical-y and benign, as if it were nothing more than water.

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
January 2, 2022 3:43 am

Do they? Help, we’re all going to DIE!

And is it true that it’s present in most if not all tumours?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Disputin
January 2, 2022 12:27 pm

Indeed it has been found in every tumor that has been tested. It’s so prevalent that they rarely if ever bother to test for it these days. It’s no wonder really because it’s now literally in all of our food. When you wash fruits and vegetables it doesn’t come off. They’re still full of it.

It causes excessive sweating and urination, sometimes diarrhea, which is bad enough, but as HotScot pointed out, it’s no trivial matter or mere inconvenience. Every year thousands DIE from acute inhalation of DHMO. Often it’s the children, so tragic.

I hope that you’ll join with me in protesting this dangerous chemical. Even griff must recognize that it should be a priority over CO2 emissions.

January 1, 2022 10:32 am

Alarmist ‘scientists’ ought to be banned from ever approaching a computer.

Anything mentioning “Our Computer model says…..” should be consigned to TV game shows.

Gunga Din
January 1, 2022 10:48 am

Reminds me of the Deep Water Horizon oil well leak.
The impression given when it happened was that the Gulf of Mexico was ruined forever.
A massive cleanup effort was put in place. A lot was cleaned up.
But they were surprised to discover that a lot (most?) of the oil was broken down (cleaned up) by microbes.

Reply to  Gunga Din
January 1, 2022 2:18 pm

Like the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

Reply to  Gunga Din
January 1, 2022 11:04 pm

Indeed Gunga, I read that in the untreated areas the environment recovered more quickly than in the chemically treated areas !

Mike Maguire
January 1, 2022 11:37 am

Thanks Kip, I agree that this is currently not at the level of a major crisis in the oceans but is a serious problem. We are still putting in far more plastics than the rate of breakdown. Just because we can’t see all of it floating at the surface is not evidence that its breaking down faster than the measured rates by science…….though 450 years for plastic bottles is probably too high. There are likely massive amounts below the surface.

I agree that if we properly disposed of all of our trash/liter, it would go a long way towards managing much of the oceanic plastics problem. Tell that to 198 countries in the world (-:

At what level would you consider it a major problem Kip?

Speaking of breaking down. If the rates of breaking down are FASTER, like you insist, then the dangers to humans from all the toxic substances ADDED TO the plastics are even greater.

What’s your opinion on this Kip?

A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health


A Review of Human Exposure to Microplastics and Insights Into Microplastics as Obesogens

Screenshot 2022-01-01 at 13-37-21 A Review of Human Exposure to Microplastics and Insights Into Microplastics as Obesogens.png
Mike Maguire
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 5:54 pm

Thanks Kip!
Happy New Year to you!
Appreciate you taking the time to respond to everybody’s comments, including my previous one.
Here is one of those studies.

Overview of known plastic packaging-associated chemicals and their hazards

I find it impossible to believe that with hundreds of additives, dozens that are known to be hazardous to human health that this is not introducing a measurable health risk to those chronically exposed to substantial amounts in some realms.

With the massive knowledge gaps in the research and this field of study still just in its infancy, we don’t yet have the data to conclusively show what seems very likely.

There are numerous ways for these toxic substances to cause harm to humans. It’s really just a matter of determining the scale of the harm based on the exposure, which we don’t know yet.
It probably isn’t as great as the pessimists/alarmists claim. But we don’t know.

However, even though we still don’t know alot, we can use critical thinking/common sense to speculate based on what we do know with high confidence about all these hazardous chemicals.
I’m taking the open minded position which maximizes the amount of objective science that can be learned and there’s tons of it in this field, studying the affects of microplastics and the ADDITIIVES in them on human health.

Mike Maguire
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 9:01 am

Thanks Kip, I see that. There is much about this topic for me to learn about and obviously for expert scientists in this field to learn MORE about.

Scientists Thought It Took Thousands of Years for Plastic to Decompose – It May Only Be Decades

Peter Fraser
January 1, 2022 11:59 am

Interesting that two of WUWT’s wise contributors, Kip Hansen and Willis Eichenbach (Hope I got the spelling right Willis) both come from a nautical background. Perhaps their years spent on the oceans of the world have given them a perspective that is less common in more landlubberly researchers. Seven tenths of the worlds surface are oceans and seas. For most their world ends at the seashore. The vastness of the world is more apparent with a maritime background and this may have contributed to their perspicacity.

Phil Salmon
January 1, 2022 12:58 pm

Fishing tackle needs to be biodegradable – organic twines and hemps. I hate finding monofilament in and around the sea and terrestrial waterways.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 1, 2022 6:02 pm

Any thoughts on the impact of Russian factory ships off Georges bank and elsewhere. I always thought they were dumping quite a bit of trash as they stayed at sea for months on end.

Happy New Year to you…the adventure continues!

Rich Davis
Reply to  Kip Hansen
January 2, 2022 12:54 pm

Well I bet that stops those wascally wushians.

January 1, 2022 12:59 pm

All this fuss about microplastics and people are still buying polyester fleece.

January 1, 2022 1:13 pm

Great post, Kip. In the first 20 years of my career, I specialized in the treatment of oil and chemicals released into the environment, either through inadvertent spill events or intentionally, utilizing natural systems to immobilize and degrade industrial and municipal wastes. I co-authored a book for EPA on the subject, helped write the original RCRA regulations on the topic, trained state and federal permit writers, and assisted numerous petroleum, chemical, industrial and municipal clients with treating or remediating millions of tons of organic and inorganic wastes and spilled products.

Consider the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. 4.9 Mbbl (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3) of oil (equivalent to 2 ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) leaked into the Gulf over a period of months, diluted into massive amounts of seawater. Most was never accounted for because it either evaporated or degraded or was sequestered. Yes, it made a mess and killed some wildlife, though the actual numbers (not percentage increases) were relatively small and transient. The resulting BP funded research created a scientific “feeding frenzy” as every U.S. coastal university and community college tried to get their gulp of the swill. Of course they reported effects, most commonly where massed, phase-separated oil came ashore. Ten years later, even as little as three years later, evidence of the spill (visual, chemical or wildlife populations) was practically nonexistent. This event is listed as “possibly” the largest marine oil spill in history, if you don’t count sunken WWII shipping or dubious estimates by Pemex of the 1979 Ixtoc spill. The largest known inland oil spill in history occurred near Bakersfield, California during the early years of the oil & gas industry, and today there is little to no evidence that it ever occurred. (Of course, the Russians probably had more and far larger spills, but they would have never been reported.) Lest we forget, the world’s worst eco-criminal was Saddam Hussein when he torched the Kuwait oil fields.

These events are not to be minimized and cause real damages, but they are exceedingly rare and, more to my point, they testify to the ability of ocean and terrestrial ecosystems to recover quickly and naturally, sometimes aided by human intervention. Micro plastics in the ocean are far less toxic and likewise are eventually physically, chemically and/or biologically degraded. As reasonable efforts reduce the rate of plastics discharges to rivers and oceans, these gyres of micro plastics will diminish. This is not an emergency, nor are our oceans doomed from plastics. Early research should include better estimates of the source term (flux) to enable us to focus on practical controls.

michael hart
January 1, 2022 1:23 pm

Excellent article. Nothing at all that I can disagree with.

I often like to tell the plastic-botherers, “What do you think has happened to all that vulcanized rubber from car tyres we have been dumping into the watercourses and the oceans for over a century, in ever increasing quantities? Where is the disaster?”

January 1, 2022 3:02 pm

Best article of the year.
I know the year just started
but I’m confident it will be
in the top ten for 2020
It’s one of those
“why doesn’t anyone else write about
this subject accurately” articles.
After 25 years of reading climate articles and studies,
I rarely come across something new like this.

My only complaint:
That group of eight small photographs.
What are we supposed to be seeing?
A magnifying glass did not help.
I thought I saw a few sharks and a submarine.
ha ha

January 1, 2022 3:20 pm

Here in Australia we have this new phenomena, “Sea Bins”, a propaganda exercise for “cleaning” up plastic from waterways with what is essentially a little floating PLASTIC weir with a PLASTIC net floating beneath. The cr8p that they espouse in the simplistic TV advertising is mind numbing … and the garbage coming out of their “sea bins” is almost entirely natural biodegradables like leaves and, of course, the single nice clean, deliberately flattened out plastic water bottle which “take 400 years to degrade” !

Reply to  Streetcred
January 1, 2022 5:29 pm

Great article Kip. You briefly mentioned replying to Rick about picking up the roadside trash and the degradation of the foam plastic food containers, due to UV light (sunlight). As one who has 25+ years working with polyurethane foam plastics in construction applications, the sunlight is the most serious thing that degraded the material. All plastics are degraded by UV light, but not much else. Placed underground or covered (shielded from) from UV, these plastic will last the life of the building structure. Exposed to the sunlight and degradation can be observed in 48 hours. Studies have shown that the typical plastic grocery bag floating on top of the water will begin to break down in 2 weeks. As you noted in the trash pickup, a few days exposure degrades the polystyrene cups and food containers to where they crumble when you attempt to pick them up. In some ways, burying plastic in a landfill ensures they will survive the 400 years some have stated a plastic water bottle will last. Put that same bottle in your window with daily sunlight and that survival will be quite different.

michael hart
Reply to  Deacon
January 2, 2022 3:12 am

Yup. Mountaineers and rock climbers will also confirm that plastic ropes and slings degrade in the natural environment through UV and oxygen. When you are offered the option of trusting your life to something you find in-situ, you decline.

January 1, 2022 4:59 pm

Obfuscation, misdirection, and fear mongering are all propaganda tools of the Marxists. Control of the MSM gives you the platform to deliver it. Useful idiots are recruited to support it.

Loren C. Wilson
January 1, 2022 5:47 pm

Perhaps this concerned group should determine where the plastics come from and why. Per the video showing the trash collection trucks dumping the waste into a river, this is an entirely manmade problem called “no modern sanitation”. Societies with access to inexpensive power can afford to have regular garbage service (twice a week in my subdivision) and proper landfills. Most plastic in the US is buried, not sent down a river. The era of garbage barges from NYC and NJ is over. For most of the world, there is no garbage service and everything washes into the river during the next heavy rain. they can’t afford to do a lot better. Make their energy cost more, and they won’t ever be able to properly dispose of their trash or sewage. Maybe these scientists could work on preventing the issue instead of looking for expensive ways to remediate it.

January 1, 2022 6:28 pm


Chris Norman
January 1, 2022 7:34 pm

We visited Niue a few months before the Chinese virus struck and for a week did not see one bit of plastic in the water. We did not expect that because on our Pacific travels we normally do see some plastic.

James Bull
January 2, 2022 7:47 am

It is a real problem for all the shouters and screamers when reality refuses to comply with their feelings.
I don’t know how you’ll get on with the rest of the song but Tom MacDonald covers the topic of plastic straws nicely in his song People So Stupid at 1.45

He covers a lot of topics which many don’t want aired with lines like “If you lie to the government they put you in prison, but when they lie to all of us it’s called being a politician”

James Bull

Michael Nagy
January 2, 2022 9:43 am

Mr.Hansen, like you I am a sailor. I have sailed from Barclay Sound in Canada down to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. The only country where I saw plastic or any garbage in the ocean was Mexico. In Mexico all the beaches have plastic unless they actually clean them up. I anchored in many isolated bays in the Sea of Cortez and saw plastic on the beaches. I talked to sailors who had sailed from Hawaii to California and they saw no plastic or garbage. But it IS THERE, and there is at least one group working to clean it up: I consider this a worthwhile endeavor as long as the taxpayer of Canada or the US doesn’t have to pay for it. I haven’t watched all the videos of this, I don’t know how much it is costing them, but it is a good idea. Here is a recent video: n
I hate that they call it a garbage patch, since it is nothing of the kind. But there is garbage out there and however misguided at least somebody is doing something.

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