Biggest garbage dump: Oceans or Space?

Illustration for article titled Biggest garbage dump: Oceans or Space?

People are good at spreading trash around the globe, and even our vast oceans are starting to fill up with (mostly plastic) refuse. Witness the North Pacific subtropical gyre, a floating trashcan the size of Texas. But outer space is closing the gap, according to a recent article in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (thanks, TreeHugger). We've heard a lot about the threat space debris poses to expensive communications satellites (read: Pentagon is getting worried about damaging their pretty spy sats), but what about crewed flights? Tourists' flights into low Earth orbit are going to be bumpy rides if we don't get to fixing his problem soon.


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@Sh1fty: The reverse is also true, and it shows that there's really no worry of space catching up with the oceans. As you mentioned, putting anything into space right now is rather pricey. So it's not exactly economical to send our used condoms up there. On the other hand, it sadly costs nothing to drop one into a stream, or flush it down a toilet into a failing sewer system, where it will eventually end up in the ocean. So the same problem preventing us from collecting trash also keeps us from putting too much up there in the first place. (Chinese missiles not withstanding.)