Our book of the month is Tracking Trash — Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion written by Loree Griffin Burns. It is part of the Scientists in the Field series that presents to young readers, adventures in our world that have a purpose. These non-fiction children’s books are suggested for ages 9-14, however Tracking Trash should be read by all ages to truly understand the seriousness of a global issue.
Despite the dismal facts presented in the book, there seems to be a somewhat, optimistic outlook, if everyone does his part — starting now. It is not humorous, but the idea of 80,000 Nike sneakers (1990), 28,800 floating bathtub toys (yellow ducks, blue turtles, red beavers and green frogs 1992), 34,000 Hockey gloves (1994) 4,756,940 LEGO pieces (1997) and yet another Nike sneaker spill of 33,000 (2002) adrift in the oceans is unimaginable! These are only a few of the many spills that happen in our oceans as Cargo Containers meet with storms, tossing the heavy metal boxes into the water. It is estimated that between 2,000 and 10,000 containers fall from cargo ships each year.
The involvement of three scientists, Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Dr. Jim Ingraham and Captain Charles Moore in collecting and compiling the data is extremely educational and eye-opening. The book introduces both the Eastern Garbage Patch and the Monster Debris. The floating Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California, is the size of the State of Alaska. The Monster Debris is a huge mass of discarded fishing “ghost” nets in Hawaii that weighs over 4,000 pounds.
The book opens with an explanation of ocean currents, longitude, latitude, tides, waves, and gyres as they relate to the drifting of the trash – concluding that the oceans and stomachs of marine animals are full of indestructible human trash. Final section is “What You Can Do.”
Written in 2007 by Dr. Loree Griffin Burns, a scientist turned writer (doctorate in biochemistry), the compelling photographs add credence to the degree of the problem. Even though the 60-page paperback book is packed full of scientific information, it is written in a manner that tells an interesting story. Taken from Adventure Notes by the author is something that we can all do to help:
“It comes down to the four Rs: Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. If we all spent a little more time on the first, refusing plastic that we don’t really need, there would be a heck of a lot less plastic in landfills and in our ocean. And while that may not prevent dolphins from getting snagged on fishing lines, it will certainly make their home a cleaner and safer place to live.”
The book is available for $8.99 in the Book Store and as always, members receive a 10% discount. It is definitely good reading and a great investment in not only our future, but generations to come.