One should not miss Lindsey Hoshaw’s gruesomely fascinating article in Tuesday’s NY Times, about the vast garbage islands in the Pacific.
Most of us had heard about these giant floating garbage collections, but somehow Hoshaw has gone the needed distance to make us feel how impossibly and fantastically awful these land masses of refuse in the ocean really are.
ABOARD THE ALGUITA, 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii â€” In this remote patch of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any national boundary, the detritus of human life is collecting in a swirling current so large that it defies precise measurement.
Light bulbs, bottle caps, toothbrushes, Popsicle sticks and tiny pieces of plastic, each the size of a grain of rice, inhabit the Pacific garbage patch, an area of widely dispersed trash that doubles in size every decade and is now believed to be roughly twice the size of Texas. But one research organization estimates that the garbage now actually pervades the Pacific, though most of it is caught in what oceanographers call a gyre like this one â€” an area of heavy currents and slack winds that keep the trash swirling in a giant whirlpool.
Scientists say the garbage patch is just one of five that may be caught in giant gyres scattered around the world’s oceans.
In addition to its content, the story is also interesting because of the fact that the primary funding for the research and the writing of the article, did not come from the NY Times, but from David Cohn’s innovative “crowd funding” model Spot.us, where anybody who wanted could give a few bucks toward Hoshaw’s month=long, $8000 reporting adventure.
Go here to Spot.Us to find out how it all came about.
Spot.Us is launching in LA soon (It’s got a nominal site up now), and we’ll be hearing a lot more about the model in the near future.
Meanwhile, many people I know are nattering on about the London Time’s Ben Macintyr’s column about how the Internet is killing narrative,—to which I say piffle.
The delivery system is changing, but good storytelling is not going away.
Photo: Mario Aguilera/Associated Press