This plastic wave is entitled Gyre and was made by artist Chris Jordan in 2009 as part of his latest project called Running the Numbers II. The piece shows what 2.4 million pieces of plastic looks like. That huge number is equal to the number of pounds of plastic that is dumped into the oceans of the earth every single hour. Just imagine how big this image would be after a day, a month or a year.
He created Cans Seraut was completed in 2007, depicting 106,000 aluminum cans which is the number used every 30 seconds in the United States. That's not a typo, every 30 seconds! That is equal to 305,820,000 every single day in the USA alone.
Jordan doesn't want to overwhelm his viewers, rather he wants them to get involved. He explains:
I believe it is worth connecting with these issues and allowing them to matter to us personally, despite the complex mixtures of anger, fear, grief, and rage that this process can entail. Perhaps these uncomfortable feelings can become part of what connects us, serving as fuel for courageous individual and collective action as citizens of a new kind of global community. This hope continues to motivate my work.
This one shows the amount of oil used in the United States every 2 minutes in 2008. It's a total of 28,000 42-gallon barrels. This is the amount that is equal to a medium sized river's flow. In an hour, that would total 840,000 42-gallon barrels used or 35,280,000 gallons per hour!
His projects, Running the Numbers and Running the Numbers II, really brings the incomprehensible scale of people's effects on the global environment down to a visual level that is easier to wrap your head around.
Check out his website for more of his work, including looks into breast augmentation rates, the number of prisoners in the United States, the amount of money spent on the war with Iraq, pain killer prescription abuse, statistics related to smoking and cancer, deaths due to handguns and more. A visit to his website or flipping through one of his books really blows your mind and expands your level of consciousness.