Midway Atoll is a collection of three small islands in the North Pacific, and one of the most remote places on earth. In many ways, this film could be shot in many places on the planet where we find tragedy and despair, but here- about halfway between the U.S. and Asia- on an island teeming with life and wonder, it is the proverbial canary in the coal mine.
Midway Atoll is located near the apex of what is being called the Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling soup of millions of tons of plastic pollution. In fact, much of this plastic can not be seen at, but it can’t be avoided as it comes ashore on these pristine beaches and in the stomachs of the birds. The islands are literally covered with plastic garbage, illustrating on several levels the interconnectedness and interdependence of the systems on our finite planet.
The ironies are unmistakable- the first trans-atlantic cable was connected here on Midway; the scars from the Battle of Midway are unmistakable. Yet now, as a protected area, we can’t help but look at the role this island had in the past, and think about where we are today. This place, a historic moment in World War II, stands a turning point that launched America’s economic dominance of the 20th Century. And so it is here, sitting halfway between the consumers of North America and the consumers of Asia, that we get to stop and consider some of the unintentional consequences of growth, and the responsibilities that we have for our planet.