red tailed lockdown, early morning

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

When the Russian Cosmos satellite collided with the American Iridium last week, it added nearly 700 pieces of debris to the nearly 20,000 bits of space junk that have been catalogued orbiting our fair planet. The cloud of pestilent scrap is circling the earth in two discernible trails. There is even a wayward tool bag that was launched into space by a fumble fingered astrodame Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper during her recent spacewalk. Experts are now calling for a system of interstellar garbage traffic control.

Couple our shabby housekeeping record in space with another homo sapien accomplishment of great monument - The Great Pacific Garbage Dump, now roughly twice the area of Texas. This mass of plastic trash is located in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Any time you release one of your rubber duckies in the drink, it will probably eventually waddle into this pile. Plastics have been found to do all sorts of rotten things to mammals, including raising the level of synthetic estrogen - which causes prostate cancer and messes with normal sexualizing. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a common plastic ingredient has been upgraded by the EPA as a likely carcinogen and poly-brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)have been shown to cause memory loss, liver and thyroid toxicity and reproductive problems. Mix this cocktail with BPA and you are sure to wreak havoc with most life forms.

I would hope that some part of our economic stimulus package could help right the world and space of the detritus and damage that we continue to cause. But I fear that we never get the message until it's much too late. Oh well.

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