Monday, April 19, 2010

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

by Gina Welborn

Last week as I was painting one of the bathrooms in my house, I learned that over seven million tons of plastic is spanning our oceans. A vortex--gyre--of marine litter. No joke. Apparently "the existance of plastic in the oceans is causing infertility." Considering my feet have dabbled in ocean waters (hmm, does the gulf of Mexico count?) twice since I got married almost seventeen years ago and since I have five children, it's obvious the plastic-infected waters have not sterilized my womb. Of course, I could merely be an anomaly.

Could be or could not be an anomaly, that is the question of which I'd need at least half a day to ponder.

Anyhoo, this Great Pacific Garbage Patch spans "the size of Texas." Texas!?! I've been to Texas. It's huge-er than huge and that's not just the hair on the women. (On a side note, I read the other day that you might be a redneck if your stock portfolio consists of two sheep and a goat.) Get this: Imagine Texas-size trash heap floating aimlessly amid all those adorable human-eating sea critters....

Oh. My. Satellite Dishes. Poor SpongeBob and Patrick.

Well, I couldn't ignore this dreadful news so I googled for some pictures to show y'all.  Only I couldn't find any. Oh, I found YouTube videos, even one from a news segment from a national network morning show, but no actual pictures of the vortex so I'm limited to showing you this diagram. Dreadful isn't it?

My mind is swimming...I mean, spinning. But what's even more dreadful is the fact no one has pictures of this ginormous garbage. In this crazy day and electronic age when everyone but me has a mobile phone, surely someone with the time could mosey on out to that plastic-filled gyre and take a pic. I want a pic. While in labor with child #5, I suffered through six hours of the Anna Nicole burial trial. I freakin' deserve a pic! (No offense intended to anyone offened by the accidental use of the minor-f-word. Hubby spent three days in Disney World, leaving me alone with all of our five children, the dog who dislikes our nice Asian neighbors, and a cat who just won't run away. My nerves are rattled.)

Sadly, it's impossible to take a picture of this watery trash. Why? Experts say, "Since plastics break down to ever smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field. Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average."

Huh? You lost me at polymer. Is that a cousin to polyester? Machine washable or dry clean only?

So, in other less scientificky words, the reason for no pictures is because "[the garbage patch] is [a] huge pile of trash collectively, but trash so small individually that the patch doesn’t show up."


If I understand correctly it's like air: unseeable, untouchable, untasteable, made up of bajillions of oxygen atoms that are so utterly small that we can see them even though we can breathe them. Obviously since I need oxygen to survive and since I'm still breathing, then, ergo, air does exist. Ergo, the Garbage Patch of the Great Pacific and other oceans exists.

Can you hear me sighing?

Call me Doubting Gina if you wish, but for me to believe this votex of swirling semisynthetic organic amorphous solid exists, I want proof. I want a picture! I want evidence! I want thousands of people who believe the Garbage Patch exist to suffer torture, imprisonment, and even death in the name of their faith in the existence of this littery waterworld!!!!!

Oh dear. I just typed five exclamation points. Perhaps I'm being a tad dramatic. (See note above on hubby in Disney and me alone with children.)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day" and the darkness "night." And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
~Genesis 1:1-4

For many people, the problem with faith is the fact that faith doesn't prove God exists. You know, faith doesn't prove that "in the beginning," God created anything. The age-old faith issue. Does He or doesn't He. In my less-thn-forty-years-lifetime, I've learned that anyone who doesn't believe in God says those who do are narrow-minded. Well, to me, narrow-minded signals an unwillingness to consider other possibilities than what we believe.

I believe God exists and that He created the heavens, the earth, and all things in and around them in six literal 24-hour days. I'd go to my death for that belief. However, I'm also willing to honestly listen to someone explain to me why He doesn't and He didn't.

If you don't believe God exists or that He created what the Bible said He created...well, are you honestly willing to listen to someone explain why s/he believes God does and did create everything? Or are you going to be narrow-minded and insist you're right and no other truth can possibly exist?

Does God exist? Click here for some answers or here or take a trip to an Ohio museum.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~Hebrews 11:6

Serious question of the Day: Ever learned anything cool/interesting/weird about creation or the existance of God? If so, what was it?
Non-serious question of the Day: What summer movie are you most looking forward to?


  1. Funny, we've been teaching on this in our junior high Sunday school. The kids are absolutely fascinated by the topic. We also just did a Creation Day at the church. We had 6 classrooms set aside, one for each day. The teachers went all out in talking about what came of their day. We had day 4 the sun and moon. Made a video 'tour' and the made the classroom look like the inside of a space ship. Lots of work, but fun and the kids loved it. (They also, sneakily, learned a lot!)

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  3. Well, Gina knows, I have a favorite scientist who is like a quantum physicist. He was an athiest, but he found God through science. He felt the Biblical account of creation perfectly matched the latest scientific discoveries. does so when you add in the factor of time relativity. He believes that the 24 hour days occur in the time frame of the origin point of creation, which by our reference so far out from the origin point, is about 15 billion years. He believes we are still in the day of rest.

    It's very complex, but I love science and found it fascinating. The thing is, to me, this doesn't make the Bible less true, it makes it more amazingly true than we ever imagined.

    Of course, of my two teenagers, one is still a fundamentalist, seven-day creationist. I don't go around preaching this stuff, I just enjoy it for my own discovery. God certainly is capable of creating the universe in seven 24 hour earth days, but I question if that is the most accurate reading of the text since the sun and moon didn't come onto the scene until several "days" into creation.

    To me, what matters is that God made the universe and that man is a special creation in his image. Beyond that, I enjoy speculating on the possibilites and feel free to do so.

  4. Lisa, it sound like your Creation party/lesson was a blast!

    We have copies of the "movies" that are shown in the Creation Museum. I love watching them because my kids sit still in rapt attention.

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  6. Dina, you and Dani should take the kids to the Creation Museum someday. It's professionally constructed, not cheesy at all. The gardens beside the museum are utterly beautiful. Saw some flora that I've never seen before.

    As far as us being in the "day of rest," we'll we've had this discussion and ended with neither of us changing our views. LOL.

  7. Here's something intriguing: Deuteronomy 32:13 says "...He made him suck honey out of the rock and oil out of the flinty rock."
    Knowing it's possible to interpret these things literally as well as spiritually, just from a literal perspective... flinty rock = shale. Our county in Colorado sits on top of what many believe is the largest deposit of oil in the world, trapped in layers and layers of shale. All we need is someone to figure out how to extract it. Interesting connection, no? The scriptures are FULL of scientific facts and truth that there was no possible way for man to know yet when the Holy Spirit inspired the writers. Scientists ought to be studying the Bible for hints to the big mysteries they can't figure out!

    On a totally goofy and ridiculous point... do ya think this is where the Garbage Patch Kids from our youth ended up? Perhaps they've become animated by aliens and are living on the invisible floating isle of trash, planning to take over the world!!!

    I need to get off the computer now...

  8. Cool post, Gina!! (There's two exclmation points for you.) Personally, I find it impossible to believe that everything tangible and gorgeous and wonderful in our world came about by itself, or accident or outside influence. It's much easier to believe that God created the complexities of our bodies and our universe.

    A few weeks ago my family saw the Hubble 3D movie in IMAX. We all loved it; it was amazing to see God's quote the hymn, "all the worlds Thy hands have made." What a powerful, amazing, BIG God we serve!

    Oh, forgot the movies question. I am tired. I can't even remember what's playing.

  9. Niki, what a great scripture verse! One of the psalmists wrote about the roundness of the earth centuries before scientists concluded the earth was round not flat.

    Garbage Patch kids....LOL! I've forgotten about them.

  10. I've seen photos of floating garbage collections, but I think it was in the Atlantic. A tangled mass of plastic and seaweed. Of course, now it has a coating of volcanic ash.

    But I don't need proof of things I can't see. AFter all, I believe in gravity otherwise Narelle would fall off the bottom of the planet.

    I haven't heard of any movies I want to see this summer. What's the buzz? Any historicals? No I don't mean another Captain Jack Sparrow movie, either...

  11. hmm...something about the world i didn't know. creation, specifically.


    uh, all that's coming to my mind is that i never knew that BCC line on your email was for BLIND carbon copying emails to people! not creation-specific, i realize, but life altering for me all the same. i've always treating the To, CC, and BCC lines the exact same. but there is a world of difference. now i can be stealth about who i send what to....which does lead to the inevitable mistake i'll make in the future where i send a what to a who i didn't intend to....but there you have it! a world opened up for me to explore. very cool. (can you tell i'm back in full-time "work" mode?)

    great post....enjoyed it!
    The Character Therapist

  12. Deb, I'm still here, LOL. Gina, fascinating and thought provoking post. Unfortunately our oceans are a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish. I grew up near the beach in Sydney, where sewerage is treated and pumped miles out into the ocean. When I was younger I remember the sewerage treatment works would sometimes 'malfunction' and raw sewerage would end up being pumped into the ocean and wash up on the beaches. I have seen toilet paper and other unmentionable things floating in the water - the smell was vile and from a few miles inland you could see the brown slick in the water.
    Thankfully, with advances in technology, the beaches in Sydney are now pristine and beautiful.


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