The ship captain and scientific researcher, who ran a woodworking and finishing business for 25 years, has become a crusader in recent years against the plastic that lands on the shore and in the ocean. Last week, Moore visited the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College to give a two-hour lecture on the dangers of the amount of plastic amassing in the Pacific Ocean.
Moore talked to 300 students inside the theater, explaining how the Pacific has become a depository for millions of tons of plastic due to the prevailing clockwise atmospheric currents that continually swirl around trash with no end in sight.
“It’s like a toilet that doesn’t flush,” Moore said.
And yet it’s an uphill, virtually losing battle, he told the students, adding that to truly solve the problem, consumers would either have to nearly boycott plastic, or coastal cities would have to revamp their infrastructure to prevent the flow out to sea. Because neither solution is viable, Moore said, there’s no immediate answer other than to spread the word that there is a crisis at hand — one that’s actually changing the ocean’s overall ecology.
Some fish, for example, are actually living in plastic containers in the middle of the sea, an artificial protector from their prey, and creating a threat to the food chain, Moore said. And other fish, due to the digestion of too much plastic, have either become less fertile or lost their ability to reproduce. As for sea birds, they’re suffering as well, particularly albatrosses, which mistake the plastic for food and die from eating it.
The problem is caused at the international level, he said. Moore showed dozens of photographs on the wall of the theater, pointing out that many of the items found in the ocean don’t just come from the United States.
He predicted that more than 100 million tons of plastic would make their way into the Pacific Ocean in the next four years, their chief routes being rivers and streams. After the presentation, he said Huntington Beach was particularly susceptible to the impacts of plastic, since the city lies at the foot of the Santa Ana River and often receives the plastics the river washes down.
Moore noted that local groups such as Orange County Coastkeeper, which lead beach cleanups, do a valuable service and can inspire politicians to take action.
“All of those are part of the solution,” he said. “My belief is that as the people lead, the leaders will follow.”