Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!
This month, I'm featuring Pacifica by Kristen Simmons!
Pacifica is a standalone YA novel that is post-apocalyptic science fiction. It takes place years in the future, and shows the devastating effects of global climate change (like melting ice caps, more acidic rain, etc.). One of the many issues for those surviving is space; space is limited and everyone needs their own space to live. The world is dirty and unsanitary, and filled with trash. In fact, the concept of trash islands is presented.
So today, I'm going to talk about trash islands!
You're probably thinking, trash... islands? Like, islands of trash floating around? Yes, that's exactly it. There are actual islands in the ocean that are made of trash, concentrated together due to gyres and currents. I've talked about the Great Garbage Patch before...
Source: Project Oceanus
Source: Bodhi Surf
The Great Garbage Patch is the most prominent example of a trash island. It is compromised of microplastics debris, and things like plastic bottles, bags, etc. But there are other examples of trash islands, and more and more are being discovered. Trash islands are more common than you'd think.
Here's a trash island off the coast of Roatan, Honduras:
There are government officials in Honduras that place the blame on the neighboring country of Guatemala, because Guatemalan citizens dump trash into rivers that eventually flow to this part of the ocean. This is similar to what happens in the Chesapeake Bay; New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians dump this and that into rivers like the Susquehanna, and all of that (fertilizer, trash, cow dung, etc.) ends up in the Chesapeake Bay, where dead zones are formed. See how everything is connected?
Think about what the presence of trash does to water quality, and the ecosystems in the ocean. t can Trash be carried by currents for thousands of miles. Plastics in the water can make the water too toxic for fish to survive, and even too unhealthy for humans to drink. And get this - over 90% of plastics are not recycled (worldwide).
You can check out a map of plastics in the ocean HERE.
Henderson Island is the most plastic-polluted island on Earth, according to National Geographic. There are over 38 million pieces of plastic on that island. This is literally an existing island that is now covered in trash.
I could talk about this and share pictures for days. Trash islands like how we see them in Pacifica are very much a reality today. How can we solve the world's trash problem? How can we clean up existing pollution? How can we foster more global interdependence? There are no easy answers.