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Paint Dust Covers the Upper Layer of the World's Oceans

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  • slowly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by polar red (215081) on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:42PM (#47631623)

    We're slowly poisoning ourselves. At one point, there will be NO turning back. Scientists have warned us enough!

    • Re: slowly (Score:3, Insightful)

      by C0R1D4N (970153)
      Or it is alarmism. Could threaten zooplankton doesn't mean it will or is likely to. Take every news story with some skepticism.
      • by mcrbids (148650) on Friday August 08, 2014 @02:02PM (#47631797) Journal

        It's important not to accept any input as pure fact on its face. It's equally important to accept facts that are verified, even if inconvenient. Far too often, "healthy skepticism" is another way to say "inconvenient so LA LA LA LA LA (fingers in ears)".

        Fact is that micro pollutants are just now entering the threshold of human understanding - and it's a bigger problem than just about anybody guessed.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          just because we are just finding out about them, when shipping has been happening for centuries kind of tells me that its not a bigger problem than anyone guessed as it hasnt shown to be a problem
          • You know wha an 'integral' is in math?
            The current AGW situation is not driven by the current output of CO2.
            It is driven by the output during the previous 150 years. Sure, we are on peak output, but ten years of what we put out right mow is far away from what we did the last hundred years.
            Nevertheless the problem is right now.
            Exactly the same as with the article we talk about.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Hulls were primarily wooden until how long ago?

            • Wooden hulls were painted as well.
              • by Reziac (43301) *

                More often they were tarred or varnished. And historical paints were made from equally 'natural' materials, eg. linseed oil and white lead. Which generally are more ablative than modern paints.

                My next question is... if the ultimate upshot is a ban on ocean shipping, cui bono?

            • by riverat1 (1048260)

              Around 100-150 years ago.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            just because we are just finding out about them, when shipping has been happening for centuries kind of tells me that its not a bigger problem than anyone guessed as it hasnt shown to be a problem

            No, no it does not. You can make that assumption, but it is not in any way supported by the given evidence. That we're finding out about it now only means that we've found out about it now; it tells us nothing about the scope. A whole new family of plastics was just invented by accident. You don't think we've been looking for new plastics? And it's not like it was some strange new combination of things, it was leaving out an ingredient. The truth is that we miss things all the time which look obvious in hin

        • by mopower70 (250015)

          Fact is that micro pollutants are just now entering the threshold of human understanding - and it's a bigger problem than just about anybody guessed.

          Fact is, that's a logically inconsistent statement. If it's just now entering the threshold of human understanding, than there can't possibly be enough evidence to call it a "bigger problem than just about anybody guessed". Unless, of course, nobody thought it was a problem at all - in which case they wouldn't be called pollutants, but unicorn dust or leprechaun farticles.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            In your rush to correct people you failed to account for the meaning of "human understanding". It doesn't mean that just one human understands. The above sentence makes it clear that someone may well have guessed, but that the general assumption has been that there was no problem.

            Someone always gets it. Unfortunately, they are usually ignored until it's too late.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          > Fact is that micro pollutants are just now entering the threshold of human understanding

          Or perhaps micro pollutants are just now entering the threshold of human measurement, and the News is reporting it because it's a new thing. (Hence the name.)

      • Re: slowly (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We'll have to see what the effect ends up being; but there is reason to be a bit concerned about marine paint. Hull fouling is a drag and people go to some lengths to avoid it. Hull paints formulated to slow fouling are quite common and work by being enthusiastically biocidal.

        • We'll have to see what the effect ends up being; but there is reason to be a bit concerned about marine paint. Hull fouling is a drag and people go to some lengths to avoid it. Hull paints formulated to slow fouling are quite common and work by being enthusiastically biocidal.

          Except the TFA didn't talk about biocidal hull paint except to note they didn't find it (the paint flecks are heavy and probably drop to the bottom).

          The other Important Bit is to note that this study was done in one area of Korea. We need a bit more research in other places to determine how widespread the issue is. I've seen 'third world' fishing boats that almost entirely paint (and a few scattered boards). Compared to say, American or European boats that are predominantly aluminum and there is a questi

          • Re: slowly (Score:4, Funny)

            by Obfuscant (592200) on Friday August 08, 2014 @05:10PM (#47633513)

            Compared to say, American or European boats that are predominantly aluminum

            So then we're creating a problem of Alzheimer's in the plankton.

            Perhaps that explains his devotion to the Chum Bucket and his continued attempts to get the crabby patty recipe?

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Being enthusiastically biocidal is better than unwittingly transporting mussels and other vermin from one coastline to another.

      • Re: slowly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday August 08, 2014 @02:14PM (#47631905)

        Or it is alarmism. Could threaten zooplankton doesn't mean it will or is likely to. Take every news story with some skepticism.

        The problem with alarmism is that it makes people skeptical about everything, even real problems. After people read so many stories about the worlds glaciers melting by 2030, and the giant continent sized island of trash in the Pacific, and then later find out that these are wild hyperbole, they stop taking anything seriously. People like Al Gore, that try to scare people into action by exaggerating problems, do a great disservice. We are all better off just telling the truth.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by angel'o'sphere (80593)

          You are completely right, except for: Al Gore dod not exaggerate anything!

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            You are completely right, except for: Al Gore dod not exaggerate anything!

            I was going to respond, but it's too easy a target.

      • by morcego (260031)

        I do take it with skepticism. I can also do basic math.
        Unless something changes, things tend to continue moving on the same direction. If the amount of paint residue on the oceans is increasing steadily, it will continue to increase (again, if nothing changes).
        So yeah, there is cause for worry, maybe even alarm. Panic? No. Panic will be when we start seeing large scale effects of this.

      • Skepticism is the break of progress.

        Every one pointing out something is an 'alarmist' (I guess that is a swear word now in the US? Or a kind of defamation? Are you surprised that other languages/societies does not even have a word for that? There e.g. is no german word for "alarmist". If someone is pointing out something we think about it. We do not just say: 'oh, an alarmist'.

        Could threaten zooplankton doesn't mean it will or is likely to. Take every news story with some skepticism.
        It exactly means what is

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There e.g. is no german word for "alarmist". If someone is pointing out something we think about it. We do not just say: 'oh, an alarmist'.

          The temptation to Godwin this thread is almost overwhelming.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        >Could threaten zooplankton doesn't mean it will or is likely to.

        I have to ask: do you just do random things in your life, rationalizing that it's okay just because the consequences are most likely not going to kill you once they become known? In my book, that's called playing Russian Roulette.

      • The entire planet has been dusted with plastic, even the Antarctic interior, we've known this for 40yrs. If there's any "alarmism" here it's not coming from the researchers. Back in Issac Newtons day only peasants ate the oysters that carpeted the shores of the UK. We've spent 250yrs raping the ocean in very obvious ways and are paying the price in collapsed fisheries and expensive mercury laden seafood, plastic dust has yet to be shown to have a significant impact on marine life but OTOH there has been lit
    • 1. Dose makes the poison.
      2. Cleaning up is possible.
      3. "Warned us enough" makes it sound like there's some level of "sufficient" warning for "us". Who are we? What defines its sufficiency?

    • by flyneye (84093)

      In the meantime, actually dumping paint onto the surface of water, does some pretty amazing things; https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do you remember your amazement when hearing about the pacific garbage patch? And then how you felt when you actually looked it up?

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:46PM (#47631659)

    This makes Sherwin-Williams and their "Cover the Earth" logo look a lot less like a paint seller/manufacturer and a lot more like some kind of Bond villain.

  • by TWX (665546) on Friday August 08, 2014 @01:47PM (#47631669)
    Maybe there's some sort of protective coating that we could put on the ocean surface to prevent this from happening...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps oil?

  • It wouldn't be a threat to zoo-plankton if there weren't so fucking many people who need so fucking many boats.
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      People who need boats made of artificial fiberglass or have to paint them, you mean. Native tribes and colonial explorers used wooden ships and had more naturally derived products in the sealing.

  • Math (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday August 08, 2014 @02:01PM (#47631779)

    On average, a liter of water from the microlayer contained 195 particles—this concentration is 10 to 100 times higher than microplastic particles in water collected by other methods.

    One litre of water is 1,000,000 cubic millimetres. Given a depth of 1 mm that would cover 1 square meter. So therefore 195 particles per square meter. They don't go into how big these particles are. The issue is that these particle float and therefore would be concentrated in the upper 1 millimetre of water. They have not shown it is a problem.

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      The homeopaths would leave you to believe that this is a MAJOR issue and the ENTIRE PUBLIC'S HEALTH and SAFETY is at RISK.

      • The homeopaths would lead you to believe that this is roughly 10^98 times too concentrated to work. Oh, and that it would make you immune to paint.
    • So... 195,000,000 particles per square kilometer in our 361 million square kilometers of ocean. That is over 70 quadrillion paint particles polluting our oceans. We are all clearly doomed!
      • by hey! (33014)

        So... 195,000,000 particles per square kilometer in our 361 million square kilometers of ocean. That is over 70 quadrillion paint particles polluting our oceans. We are all clearly doomed!

        It depends on whether the particles are accumulating faster than they are leaving the system. If the figures we're talking about represent an equilibrium that will continue indefinitely into the future, surely we are not doomed. But if the concentration of particles is increasing and people need to do something about this before it becomes a problem, we might be.

        Eventually something's going to get our species. Either changes in the Sun will make the Earth uninhabitable to anything recognizably human, or w

    • Yet, we should measure this every year to see if the number is increasing.

    • They have not shown it is a problem.

      Perhaps not but its certainly worth following up on a previously unknown phenomenon that may or may not affect the global food supply. Your math showing an apparently small concentration doesn't take into account the biology of any creature living in the ocean. You haven't shown there isn't a problem.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        You haven't shown there isn't a problem.

        Proving a negative is almost impossible. For example, prove that you are not a serial killer.

        • by Duhavid (677874)

          If I were a serial killer I would not want others to know about it.
          They would put me in prison or kill me, an undesirable outcome.

          You clearly either know or suspect.
          You are part of "others".
          You are capable or telling others.

          I should silence you.
          Killing you would be a very effective way to silence you.

          If I were a serial killer I would be capable of causing your death
          I am not a serial killer, or you would be dead.
          QED.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If I were a serial killer I would be capable of causing your death

            [citation needed]

            I am not a serial killer, or you would be dead.
            QED.

            The ability to do a thing does not equal having done the thing.

            QED, you do not have a valid argument

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            You clearly either know or suspect.

            I neither know or suspect. I am just making an accusation and challenging you to prove it false.

            If I were a serial killer I would be capable of causing your death

            You have no idea who I am or where I live. Maybe you are only capable of killing children under the age of five?

            I am not a serial killer, or you would be dead.

            The other explanations for my continues existence are as follows;
            1. You don't know who I am.
            2. You don't have the financial resources to come to me and kill me.
            3. You don't have the capability of killing someone who can defend themselves.
            4. The attempt would uncover your actions.
            To put it slightly diffe

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Nor do they tell us the ratio to non-plastic junk floating in that same water, especially naturally occuring junk. Not every particle floating in the oceans is of human origin; I'd hazard most are the result of atmospheric dust.

  • Fish from helicopters. There, problem solved.
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Friday August 08, 2014 @02:08PM (#47631833) Journal
    Presumably, this paint and fibreglass has higher reflectivity, thus reducing climate change?
    • by Bodhammer (559311)
      Only the horribly racist, oppressive, and imperialist white paint.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The total area covered is a minuscule percentage of what was formerly uncovered.

      Personally, I don't buy it, because plankton isn't a thing, it's a class of things. Because we are talking about particles, the danger isn't to plankton. The danger is to plankton feeders. Individual plankton which die because they come in contact with a paint particle are going to fall out of the mix and become food for something lower down instead of something feeding near the surface. Not all of them are going to be vulnerabl

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        I find it more likely that some microorganism will find a way to extract energy from the particles, if it's not already doing so. Which may produce the GP's possible state of equilibrium.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I find it more likely that some microorganism will find a way to extract energy from the particles, if it's not already doing so.

          That's not a good thing. Paints are overwhelmingly still colored with things we don't want in the food chain. We really don't want plankton to metabolize these particles. We want them to stay as intact as possible for as long as possible, ideally until they somehow end up on the ocean floor or in a cleanup project somewhere — but anywhere that won't put them into the food chain or drinking water would be fantastic.

  • ~200 particles vs ~3*10^25 molecules of water in liter seems pretty small. Especially since these plastics aren't very reactive. Seems pretty small scale of a problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    that stuff is the Worst.
    I work in a big German Yacht building business, so i've got some experience with that stuff.
    Avoid that shit at all costs. If you get in on your skin it will itch and sting you.
    If you try to wash it of you might have some temporary relief, but put some clothes on or lay down in your bed and it will sting terribly.
    If you're new to the stuff, it sometimes will last for more than a day.
    I know people who got so used to it, the sometimes don't even wear the safety overals. These guys are s

  • The upper millimeter of the ocean is a very sunny place to be.

  • Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.
  • Reading James Ballard's "The Burning World" I found the scientific premise difficult to believe.
    But apparently it's not that ludicrous...

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