Sadly, we live in an “out of sight, out of mind” society. People don’t think about the consequences of the their actions. They don’t that a plastic bag left on the side of a stream will travel into the ocean and slow photodegrade-getting more and more toxic as it breaks down.
The simplest answer to this lies in Garrett Hardin’s concept of “the tragedy of the commons.” By this he referred to the fact that “common” areas like the atmosphere and aquasphere (oceans and seas) of the world are not the specific jurisdiction of any one nation; thus everyone has an incentive to deplete them, but no one wants to be the first one to spend money protecting them.
No country wants to be the one to shoulder the responsibility for cleaning up the Pacific trash vortex, so until there is a globally-organized agency acting on behalf of the environment, it will likely remain an unsolved problem.
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