from the one-hundred-megatons dept.
Peace Corps Online writes "An expedition called Project Kaisei has departed bound for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a huge 'island' of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean estimated to be the size of Alaska (some estimates place it at ten times that size). The expedition will study the impact of the waste on marine life, and research methods to clean up the vast human-created mess in the Pacific. The BBC quotes Ryan Yerkey, the project's chief of operations: 'Every piece of trash that is left on a beach or ends up in our rivers or estuaries and washes out to the sea is an addition to the problem, so we need people to be the solution.' The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre, a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes. The rotational pattern created by the North Pacific Gyre draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including the coastal waters off North America and Japan. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region. 'You are talking about quite a bit of marine debris but it's not a solid mass,' says Yerkey. 'Twenty years from now we can't be harvesting the ocean for trash. We need to get it out but we need to also have people make those changes in their lives to stop the problem from growing and hopefully reverse the course.'"
Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation
potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.