For their September/October 2016 issue, Popular Science's Laura Krantz reported a lengthy exposition on the state of the continents of trash (plastic and otherwise) floating and congealing in the oceans of the world. One young entrepreneur, 21-year-old Boyan Slat, raised over $2 million for his startup, which plans to put up barriers around the world to collect the detritus. And there are many more adventurous do-gooders out there where Mr. Slat came from.
But there's dispute over whether well-intentioned plans like Slat's are a good idea at all. As Krantz points out, we have known of five major trash gyres in the ocean. These gyres, through currents, winds, and the rotational force of the Earth, end up coalescing in relative dead spots in the ocean. They're bad, and we should clean them up, but the argument that they present a clear and present danger to the flora and fauna of the world is probably mistaken. On the other hand, there is a newly discovered trash "hot-spot" in the Arctic Ocean. This one, in contrast to the others, could be dangerous, as the Arctic ecosystem is a vibrant and possibly fragile one.
Read Laura Krantz's full story over at Popular Science.