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Not Tiger Woods: Important stories from 2009 you may have missed

Barack Obama and Tiger Woods dominated headlines in 2009. Here are some vital news stories that didn't get as much play.

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Did you notice? A patch of debris grew in the Pacific Ocean. (A boy collects plastic materials along the Philippine coast)

Reuters

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From Barack Obama’s inauguration to the implosion of Tiger Woods’s image, 2009 has been a big year for news. So big, in fact, that the top stories may have drowned out other important items. Here are a few you may have missed amid the cacophony of the media’s daily tweets, video clips, and texts.

The flotilla of plastic bits. Climate change is a foreboding problem, but scientists are watching other dangers to the environment, too. Many worry about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a giant collection of floating debris, largely plastic fragments, trapped in a swirl of ocean currents near Hawaii, about midway between Japan and America’s West Coast.

The Scripps Institute of Oceanography in August sent a 30-person team to study the effect of the patch on marine life. The UN Environment Program has issued a report on the global problem of marine litter and called for a ban on what it terms “pointless thin-film plastic bags.”

Bonus track: In October, the United Nations named Tinker Bell, the forest fairy from “Peter Pan,” as its “Ambassador of Green.”

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