Captain Charles Moore: Oceanic Muckraker

“Recycling is a myth. We are making more junk than we can reuse. Today, we only recycle 3% of the total production of our garbage.”

– Captain Charles Moore

Cpt. Charles Moore (Photo: Jonah Raskin).

The reporters who built their reputations in the Golden Age of Muckraking raked muck on dry land, not at sea. Ida B. Wells, Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens exposed racism, political corruption and corporate greed in books like The Free Speech (1892), The History of the Standard Oil Company (1904) and The Shame of the Cities (1904).

Upton Sinclair uncovered the nauseating meatpacking industry in The Jungle (1906) and helped bring about the passage of The Pure Food and Drug Act. Carey McWilliams, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Edward Snowden have carried on the tradition.

More recently, Captain Charles Moore has revealed what might be called the “shame of the oceans.”

A sea captain and an oceanographer, he has brought to the attention of the world, over the past two decades, the existence of the “Great Pacific Garbage Pack,” an area in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas that’s littered with plastic and that’s rapidly destroying sea life.

Moore originally called the area a “plastic cesspool.”

I caught up with Captain Moore recently at a high school in California where he talked to students about the crisis of garbage that’s engulfing the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian oceans.

Moore also spoke briefly about garbage in outer…

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