Explain the Causes, Impacts and Responses to one Major Global Pollution Incident

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Explain the Causes, Impacts and Responses to one Major Global Pollution Incident

Explain the causes, impacts and responses to one major global pollution incident


Over the past decade there have been various major pollution incidents leading to growing concern of the well being of our environment. One major incident is the Great Pacific Garbage patch, which was founded in 1997 by Captain Charles Moor, and has been a continuously growing issue. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a gyre of garbage and debris in the middle of the pacific ocean having many impacts on the animals and the environment. It is an example of a transboundary pollution incident, as plastics and other debris being thrown into the ocean from various countries, travel through currents to this area of the ocean. A gyre is a system of circular ocean currents formed by the Earth’s wind patterns and forces created by the rotation of the planet. This response will be looking at the causes, impacts and responses to the build up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The environmental causes to the buildup of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, are that the garbage thrown into the ocean eventually make their way to the gyre. Once it reaches the gyre it circulates through the currents and wind, unable to escape, until washed up, or eaten by sea creatures or birds. Most of the garbage in the gyre is plastic, as plastic is not biodegradable, it only breaks down into tiny fragments over a long period of time. During this period, they entangle and kill millions of sea creatures, as they ingest toxicants that cause liver and stomach problems in fish and birds. Marine Debris also disturbs marine food webs, as micro plastics and other trash collect on the surface, blocking sunlight from reaching plankton and algae below. If Algae and plankton are threatened, the entire food web may change. Some responses to these issues have been to raise awareness on the issue, to stop people from throwing plastic into the ocean. Charles Moore, who discovered the garbage patch continues to raise awareness through his own organization, and National Geographic have built a catamaran made of plastic bottles to display the strength of plastic, and the threat they have to the environment. This indicates that the litter of plastics into the pacific ocean has gotten out of hand, and is destroying the area’s ecosystem, someone has to take responsibility and come up with an achievable solution.