Apocalyptic bullshit

Humans love miserable apocalyptic predictions, even when they are bullshit.

Lately a report published in Nature did the rounds on social media with headlines like

    Pacific plastic dump
    garbage dump
    more than twice the size of France
    Dumped Plastic Defiles Nature
    a future in which they will not be able to eat any seafood because all of it will in fact be contaminated by microscopic and even smaller bits of plastic


The numbers in the paper work out to fifty kilos per square kilometre ("79 thousand tonnes of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km2"), in the "garbage patch" area. Nothing like the photo.
Half the mass is made up of fishing nets. Those are relatively easily recovered.
Visualise a square kilometre of ocean. Chuck in a couple of garbage bags of plastic rubbish and a 4kg bag of tiny bits, and one fishing net. That's a "garbage patch" apparently.
It's not economic to trawl for the plastic in order to research it because you get too little in each pass.
A passing boat wouldn't notice.
If the boat happened to be in the 0.4% of the ocean where this is a "problem".
Of course they don't explain that in the paper or in any of the thousands of posts circulating it.

Also according to the numbers in the paper, 2% of plastic production enters the oceans, at a rate of 1kg per person per year (8 million tonnes, 8 billion people).

This is emotive econutter bullshit again. The world has some serious problems. This ain't one of them.

Our industry is full of similar bullshit predictions and assessments. I've written about them before, but it is just getting worse, thanks to social media. People uncritically circulate emotive distortions and fabrications, i.e. bullshit.

Please please: we are intelligent people in our industry. Stop spreading bullshit. Think first.

[updated from comments:

the Nature article is a report from an ecological activitist organisation, not peer reviewed research. That's where I got all the data from, not the hysterical posts which ignore it.
The conclusions of the paper are not supported by their data, as I showed. The problem is not as serious as made out. 0.2% of the world's oceans has accumulated 50kg/km2. That's what it should have said but it didn't. I stand by the statement that even the paper itself is emotive exaggeration. The authors are clearly pursuing an ideological position.
Exponential projections are always bullshit in the real world. No system is exponential for long before physical constraints kick in.
I'm sorry if I don't buy in to the apocalyptic eco-ideology, but I prefer to stick to the data. We have very genuine world problems, such as the rise of the right, fake news, overfishing, and of course global warming. Lets stick to those without inventing fake crises as the eco nutters do, such as plastics, nuclear waste, Fukushima, GMO, overpopulation, vaccines, glyphosate, cancer, gluten and God knows what else, none of which are supported by the science.

And while we're here, the source of the problem is localised, which will help in a solution.
China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are spewing out as much as 60 percent of the plastic waste that enters the world’s seas.]

Here is a presentation I gave recently

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