Picking up the Pieces
The Ocean Cleanup project
Matthew Nibloe, Nottingham 29/10/18
President of Current Affairs Society, University of Nottingham
Climate change is a controversial issue in the World, especially in the United States, where only 73% of the population believe there is solid evidence of global warming, and 60% believe that humans have contributed to the warming climate (The Guardian).
The way humans treat the environment has impacted not just global temperatures, but also the quality of our environment. National Geographic now estimates that there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in our oceans (National Geographic).
This month, the non-profit organisation Ocean Cleanup launched a $20 million project to clean up the 1.8 trillion pieces of trash in what is now referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Forbes).
The floating 2'000 feet long boom system will has been deployed near the San Francisco Bay, where there is the highest density of trash per square kilometer, and the collected trash will be reused and recycled.
The project is the largest effort to remove trash from the oceans in history. The system leverages the power and predictability of ocean currents to collect plastic, as currents -otherwise known as ‘subtropical gyres’ - draw it toward concentrated areas. If the project survives rigorous testing in the coming weeks, we could see a 50% decrease in the Pacific Garbage Patch in by 2023.
The Dutch company, Ocean Cleanup, was founded only in 2013 by Boyan Slat and Charles-Eric Gaston. Since founding Ocean Cleanup, Slat, 24, has received many environmental accolades including the UN’s highest environmental accolade, ‘Champion of the World’ and The Ocean Cleanup was voted as one of the best inventions of 2015 by TIME magazine. The organisation has subsequently raised over $35 million – benefactors include tech pioneer Marc Benioff; his wife, Lynne Benioff; and Peter Theil, the co-founder of PayPal - all for investment in sustainable activities.
Only time will tell if Ocean Cleanup’s innovative strategy will have a role to play in the future of our oceans’ health and the sustainability of marine wildlife. What, however, can be said, is that ignorance is no longer an excuse to ignore the issue of oceanic sustainability, and that it is ideas like this that will begin to reverse the effects of ‘human-change’, if not climate change, on the environment.
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