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THOMAS MORTON: So we’re just
on the outskirts of the gyre right now. We haven’t really even gotten
into the thick of things, and already in the last hour, we’ve
seen more fucking trash float by than we have in the
entire voyage up until now. The past day I started getting
this weird fear that, like, what if the garbage
patch isn’t here? What if we’d all been duped? But I don’t– I don’t see that as being
the case anymore. We’re staring to see a
lot of gnarly shit. Dude! Are these– are you
seeing this shit? Like, some of it– some of it’s,
uh, what’s it, bubbles and what have you? But if you look in the middle
of them, there’s, like, fucking chunks of crap. I’ll get under your net,
and we’ll get it. Ready? Here it comes. MALE SPEAKER: You got it? THOMAS MORTON: I got it. There we go. Ah, yeah. MALE SPEAKER: Teamwork. THOMAS MORTON: Look
at that thing. MEREDITH DANLUCK:
Where’s it from? MALE SPEAKER: Looks
like Japan. THOMAS MORTON: It’s Japan. This is either the second or
third buoy we’ve pulled with Japanese shit on it. We are across the Pacific
from Japan. By the time it gets here, it
has to make a three- to five-year circle around the gyre
all the way over towards Asia, up by Alaska,
and then back in. The whole thing– the whole
thing’s kind of just one big unfathomable bummer. I came out here expecting to
see, like, a trash dump, pieces in the water that
you could pull out. But instead, what I got was
an even ruder awakening. Looking out right now, you
don’t see the garbage. Sometimes you see
shit float by. Most the time you don’t. You just see water. But what’s in that water is a
fucking thousand times worse than a Coke bottle. Because what it is, it’s every
part of a Coke bottle busted down into a little digestible
morsel. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: No, we
don’t have it over the eye hook right. I’m [INAUDIBLE] right
now with my line. THOMAS MORTON: This is where
we’re going to dump this little winged thing
out the back. So we just sit now and let that
thing, uh, fucking Hoover up all the crap that’s on the
surface of the water. And then we’ll draw it in. And I kind of don’t know where
we’re going from there. Look at it, be grossed out. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
Ready, you ready? Seven, four, eight, six. This is actually a very sad
sample, because this is what we’re talking about with
the 60 to 1 bit instead of the 6 to 1. THOMAS MORTON: A bad ratio of
plastic to sea life is– what’s it, 6 to 1 in a sample? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
This is 60 to 1. This sample has very
little life in it. There’s all the components
of the plastic soup that the ocean is. THOMAS MORTON: This is, like,
levels beyond pollution. We’ve changed, like, the
composition of ocean water almost 1,000 miles from
fucking shore. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Here’s
one part of an organism, it looks like. So we have a lot of
microplastics here. And you notice there’s no reds
in here, no oranges. THOMAS MORTON: Why’s that? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: That’s
because these fish like to eat things that are red and orange,
that look like shrimp. And birds eat them too. THOMAS MORTON: After an hour,
the only thing we got were two bugs. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: I don’t
think we would have seen any of these floating by. THOMAS MORTON: Yeah, no. MEREDITH DANLUCK: When you
describe this place as, like, a collection of garbage the size
of Texas, it’s really, really about, like, that you can
trawl this entire area and still find little
bits of plastic. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Yeah,
and then there’s these accumulation zones, which
are poorly defined. Like Ebbesmeyer says size of
Texas or twice the size of Texas or something like this. Well, that state of
Texas is moving. It’s all– there’s no answer
book, you know? We’re writing the answer book. So we don’t– we don’t really
know any answers. OK, 10, 12– 12 more minutes. THOMAS MORTON: God,
this is awful. This looks like you’d find this
in a stagnant place at, like, a really busy
harbor, not in the middle of the ocean. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: We have
everything in here in terms of plastic– net, nurdles,
Styrofoam, bottle caps. THOMAS MORTON: This is our
first introduction to the garbage patch, a product of
a little hour’s trawling. This is really a synthetic
environment. And where we’re going,
we’re going to see it get a lot worse. It’s kind of disheartening. I mean, how do you fucking pull
the plastic out of that? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: That’s
why I’m so glad that you guys came, because I think seeing
this changes people’s perception of how serious
the problem is. MEREDITH DANLUCK: I mean
we are so far away. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Yeah, I
mean, you had to get here– you had to spend the time
getting here to realize how far you were. MEREDITH DANLUCK: I’m
totally bummed. I don’t know if I’m
just tired. And it’s also different to have
seen, like, pictures– like a picture of a jar
somewhere in some magazine, and then to, like, realize
how long it’s taken for us to get here. I mean, we are in the
middle of nowhere. Like, I think there are
so few people who have actually been here. Maybe no one has ever
been in this spot. You know? It’s that kind of, like,
real middle of nowhere. And it’s filled with
our trash. You know? We’ve really screwed up. We’re all going to hell. DR. LORENA MENDOZA: I think the
plastic is everywhere, in all the world. THOMAS MORTON: It’s
just uniform? DR. LORENA MENDOZA: Yes. I don’t see anyplace
in the world that don’t contain plastic. [SPEAKING SPANISH] CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: You and
I have seen shocking amounts of plastic in these samples. But what is there that
we can’t see? Individual plastic polymer
molecules. And they’re in the process
of breaking from a 2,000 molecular weight chain down
to 1,000 in a totally uncontrolled experiment. MEREDITH DANLUCK: What’s that? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
[INAUDIBLE] MEREDITH DANLUCK: That’s
fishing line? THOMAS MORTON: Once plastic’s
broken down, because of their structure, they can act as
sponges for chemical compounds called Persistent Organic
Pollutants, which is an eerily cute term for horrible
chemicals, like DDT and pesticides, that are actually
pretty common in ocean water. But once plastic’s introduced
into the mix, the plastic just, like, sops them up. It’s, like, basted in
poisonous chemicals. MEREDITH DANLUCK: The worst
ever [INAUDIBLE] trawl. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Yep. It’s my worst ever. And the number of nurdles
is outstanding. THOMAS MORTON: That doesn’t
even have the big piece in it, does it? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: No. This isn’t even the
full sample. This is probably 1,000 to
1, plastic to plankton. Probably our first ever breaking
the 1,000 to 1 mark. Previous studies had only just
counted the plastic. But our breakthrough study
became a new kind of way to assess the problem as compared
to the available food. Ebbesmeyer says a one-liter
bottle will break into enough pieces to put one particle
on every mile of beach in the world. MEREDITH DANLUCK: You stil that
up, and it’s virtually invisible, you know, this
confetti that’s all in the ocean right now. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: I think
that’s your challenge, is to create that immediacy for the
people that would only think of an object. How do you talk about that? Everybody said, why don’t you
just go out and clean it up? You know, they think it’s
like a parking lot. There’s no way. There’s no way you
can clean it up. No chance. I did a calculation that we’d
require every man, woman, and child on earth– 6.6 billion– during their lifetime to clean
up the ocean, they would have to be in charge of 100,000
pick-up truckloads of ocean. THOMAS MORTON: This is
beyond bad news. What do you fucking do against
this, Have countries sign agreements? There’s no– there’s no policing
the waters out here. That only accounts for a fifth
of everything that’s– of all the trash that’s here. Most of it’s coming from land. And you can tidy things up in
places like the United States or Japan, but how do you keep
the third-world countries from doing this? Especially when we’re shipping
out all our fucking manufacturing there. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: If we
solve the plastic problem, we would, at the same time, solve
a lot of our social problems, which is keeping us tied down
to, basically, a rat race. I mean, I’m not the first
one to describe our system as a rat race. The plastic plays a
big part of it. It just fits the mold of this
repressive totality, which doesn’t allow people to
think outside the box. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Well,
that’s the thing. It’s like, does this need to
be, like, the money, glamor shot that we had all thought
it was going be of, like, a ton of garbage? This is actually worse. THOMAS MORTON: It’s way worse. It’s not as glamorous, but– MEREDITH DANLUCK: It’s totally
not, like, the money shot, but it’s totally worse. There is a shift of
understanding happening for all of us, I think, in
terms of, you know, what this area is. It’s not– it’s not a big garbage dump the
size of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific. It’s almost like tobacco,
tobacco in the ’50s. Everyone was like, there’s
no problem with tobacco. THOMAS MORTON: Yeah. Well, it’s because tobacco– it’s like plastics telling
us there’s no problem with plastics. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Yeah, it’s
like a huge industry that’s so systemic that nobody’s really
taken the time to understand. THOMAS MORTON: It’s entered
the food chain. It’s in– it’s in all the water
we’ve been around. And we haven’t even started
to try to combat this. I mean, Charlie is out
here, uh, like, studying the effects. Greenpeace sends, like, a
trawler every so often to try to pull pieces out. But it’s the composition
of the ocean now. It’s not just a matter
of pulling shit out. It’s a matter of, like,
preparing our systems for the change that’s on its way. Basically, we’ve– without realizing it– consigned
ourselves to eating our own shit. We’ve been tossing out plastic
for years, and it has come back and bit us really fucking
hard in the ass already. [YELLING] MEREDITH DANLUCK:
There’s a net. THOMAS MORTON: Net. MEREDITH DANLUCK: There’s a
net off the starboard– THOMAS MORTON: Net off
the starboard. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Keep your
eyes on it, Jake. JAKE BURGHART: THOMAS MORTON: We sort of hit
one of the worst little payloads of, uh, of
garbage that we’ve had this whole voyage. It was a fucking enormous ghost
net, just floating out in the middle of nowhere. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Critical
thinking, it’s a faculty that’s in danger in
our present-day society. Critical thinking. We live in the happy
consciousness era where it’s like, we’re the strongest nation
on Earth, globalization is inevitable, we’ve got more
stuff, he who dies with the most toys wins. I think that’s why I’m so
gung-ho on this plastic thing is because it’s a symbol of the
wrong direction that we’re taking as a society
as a whole. What is the promise
of civilization? You know, Descartes said there
was such a thing as a social contract, that we give up our
individual liberties to the society as a whole because it
can liberate us greater than we can do by ourselves. Is that still the case? Is it really– are we getting the bang for the
buck out of our society and our social institutions
that we give up our anarchistic tendencies for? We’re caught in the trade
winds of our time. We can’t secede from society. But we have to plant the seed of
the future in the present. FEMALE SPEAKER: Pull it
in with the winch. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Pretty
impressive, isn’t it? What a joke. [COUGHING] THOMAS MORTON: Isn’t too clear
when you see it underwater, but it’s a lot more obvious
when you get all the colors out here. This is made of so many
fucking pieces of net. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Well
that’s what happens. THOMAS MORTON: Different ones. It just collects– like, one net just starts
collecting others. Just like a tumbleweed. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Yeah, look how
many– there’s countless different kinds of
rope in there. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
I know there’s a toothbrush hiding in here. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Yeah,
we saw that toothbrush out in the water. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
Did you see it? MEREDITH DANLUCK: Mm-hmm. And so right now, if we stopped
using plastics, or if we controlled the runoff of
plastics into the ocean, the amount of plastic that’s
in the ocean now– there’s no way we
can clean it up? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: No. MEREDITH DANLUCK: But is there
a way that the ocean can– can process it? CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: You
saw it in the ghost net. You saw the toothbrush, plastic
tarp, strapping, all these things woven together. She pulls those over
to these centers. And then when storms hit, our
islands and beaches are like sieves in a comb, combing
it out of the ocean. So she’ll eventually
spit it out. But like I say, she can’t spit
it all out if we don’t stop putting it in. The ocean cannot handle
all this stuff. What can she do? THOMAS MORTON: Ahh! I just want everybody
to know this isn’t just a pleasure cruise. We get out feet wet. We have to find ghost
nets sometimes. Sometimes it’s rocky out here. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
Get ready to work. We got to take down the sails. You want neutral– MALE SPEAKER: I got it, relax. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Neutral,
a little bit forward. THOMAS MORTON: Ah, fuck. Come on. [YELLING] CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Meredith,
pull in on your [INAUDIBLE]. That’s the other one. MEREDITH DANLUCK:
Yeah, I know. But you just said [INAUDIBLE]. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
[INAUDIBLE]. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Stop! CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: We’re
pulling, we’re pulling. Keep pulling. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Stop! Stop. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Keep
pulling, keep pulling. Release. Release the [INAUDIBLE]. Release the [INAUDIBLE]. THOMAS MORTON: Goddamnit. Fuck. Fuck. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Oh, shut
up, you motherfucker. I’ll blast your motherfucking
mouth. I told you this was an emotional
sail, I don’t want you guys fucking [INAUDIBLE]. MALE SPEAKER: Everybody OK? MEREDITH DANLUCK: Mm-hmm. THOMAS MORTON: We’d seen him
yell at us and stuff when we’d fuck up the sails and
things like that. But he’s typically really,
really mellow. That whole problem would have
been avoided if he had just stored his samples in
plastic beakers. It was really fucking
heartbreaking, because that was, like, a good sample, and
he’s never going to get that again on this trip, not for
another bunch of trips. And it invalidates, you know,
all that we did that afternoon, which is part of
what he was screaming. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Was it 16? THOMAS MORTON: Almost. MEREDITH DANLUCK: You know,
what can you do? Today was a spiral into a
totally different place. What are our comments tonight? JAKE BURGHART: What? MEREDITH DANLUCK: What
are our comments? JAKE BURGHART: Need
more soy milk. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Where
is the soy milk? JAKE BURGHART: What
should we do now? Should we check the
engine rooms? MEREDITH DANLUCK: Yeah,
check the engine room. I have to go to the bathroom. JAKE BURGHART: OK. MEREDITH DANLUCK: I feel like
I’m destroying this map. Does he get a new one
for every trip? [LAUGHING] MEREDITH DANLUCK: Your
nose is running. JAKE BURGHART: I I know. Did I get some snot on you? MEREDITH DANLUCK: Yeah. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Right
beneath the large– you see that dark cloud above
the white clouds? Yeah, that’s the volcano. THOMAS MORTON: Land-ho! CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE:
Look at that, huh? MALE SPEAKER: 50 miles away. We just dropped the main
sail for the last time. And now we’re going to pull
in to the harbor. THOMAS MORTON: That’s it. It’s over. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Oh my god,
it feels really fucked up. CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE: Thomas,
how’s your stomach? THOMAS MORTON: So far so good. This wharf’s kind of pretty
wobbly, though. Whoa, this feels amazing. This feels like I’m on
fucking shrooms. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Oh my god,
I feel totally high. I really feel like
I’m on acid. THOMAS MORTON: Running
makes no sense when you try to do it. [INAUDIBLE]. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Salud. MALE SPEAKER 1: Salud,
Meredith. MEREDITH DANLUCK: Welcome
back to civilization. Isn’t it so comfortable
and convenient? THOMAS MORTON: This is
going to be weird. We made it. We’re in Hawaii. We got off the boat, finally. We kissed our sea
legs goodbye. And now we can just relax down
here on the world-famous green sands beaches. Paradise. Look at this. It’s everything we’ve been
seeing the whole time. Why don’t we walk
down a little? Like, how far can you go from
people and not have to be wading through their shit? I guess the moon? I’m really about to have
like a whole crying Indian moment here. Can you even imagine
cleaning this up? Every little piece that you see
here is fucking plastic. What we’re looking at right now
may look worse than what we’ve seen in the gyre. But really, right
now, this is– this is good as it gets. This is the best point. Right now, we could grab this
shit and take it, while it’s still in one piece, and haul
it fucking somewhere. Who knows? But uh, in about another
hour or so– water’s coming in right now–
this is all going back out. I mean, if we’ve basically
ruined the ocean, what chance do we have with fucking
land, or with ourselves, for that matter?

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