Diane Goodboe



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In June 2009 I attended a presentation at the Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory (PFEL) in Pacific Grove, CA that was given by Capt. Charles Moore of Algalita Marine Research & Education. I see one of your citations is for this group. Capt. Moore covered long tables end-to-end with degraded marine plastics gathered from some of his voyages to illustrate the issue. Given that he was addressing scientifically educated people there were no questions or challenges of the sort I encountered weekly during the 13 yrs. I worked in public environmental education in that same town (200-2013). Frankly, most people just don't understand the terminology; when they hear "decomposes" or "breaks down" they think it means not just smaller and smaller parts, but actual transformation from a harmful state into...something more benign and "natural". I guess that's a legacy of the popularity of home composting. There's a real age divide in the scientific comprehension and critical thinking skills taught in American schools between how such things used to be taught and how they are now - I spent most of my time dumbing down my own answers to questions for people over the age of about 50, but seldom needed to do so for anyone younger than that. The fact most people of all ages don't live near an ocean beach blocks them from seeing the issue too. Both groups are an important voting and funding bloc of our population. Given that challengers still insist the Pacific Garbage Patch and other vortexes are a hoax because "if it was real it would show up on Google Earth", (shoot me now) there needs to be better, simpler outreach for those whose science education pretty much stopped at watching Alka Seltzer fizz. This is a failure of our traditional education system that I see largely corrected for Millennials but I'm not sure they're going to become activist in significant numbers in time to make a difference in how we handle plastics. Bottom line, this issue needs massive publicity targeting general lay audiences or nothing will even begin to change.
May 17, 2016
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