The mission to remove 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic from the ocean is about to launch
Swirling in the Pacific Ocean is a loose patch of garbage that measures 1 million square miles—about three times the size of France. Now, one organization is beginning to clean it up.
Swirling in the Pacific Ocean is a loose patch of garbage that measures 1 million square miles—about three times the size of France. That’s just one of five major garbage patches that plague the world’s oceans and marine life.
For years, The Ocean Cleanup foundation has been planning a first-of-its-kind project to remove massive amounts of garbage, most of which is plastic, from the Pacific Ocean. On September 8, the foundation plans to launch a full-scale beta test, dubbed System 001, of its bold, $24.6-million solution: create a massive floating barrier to corral the plastic, remove it from the ocean and turn it into merchandise.
The upcoming launch is set to be the first of approximately 60 similar systems.
The Ocean Cleanup claims a “full-scale deployment” of these systems could clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over five years, and that it could reduce the patch by 90 percent by 2040.
The foundation explains how its beta system works in a video.
Some have expressed skepticism about the project. One of the loudest critics has been David Shiffman, a shark conservation biologist and writer for the blog Southern Fried Science.
In a blog post titled ‘I asked 15 ocean plastic pollution experts about the Ocean Cleanup project, and they have concerns’, Shiffman outlines some of the project’s potential pitfalls: the destruction of marine life, exorbitant costs and ineffective technology.
The Ocean Cleanup responded with a blog post of its own titled ‘A Peculiar Survey’, which counters Shiffman’s survey and asserts that it was designed to elicit negative responses from his hand-selected experts.
Regarding the destruction of marine life, Ocean Cleanup founder and CEO Boyan Slat wrote in the post:
“Our ocean cleanup systems are designed to be inherently safe for marine life, because the systems move through the water very slowly, powered by wind and waves. They don’t use nets but non-permeable screens (making entanglement impossible) and the plastic is only extracted from the water periodically in a way which minimizes the risk to marine life, further mitigated by the presence of trained personnel to check before lifting the plastic out of the water.”
Slat said the only way to know whether his system is effective is to test it at scale.
“We're confident we've eliminated risks where possible, but not everything can be calculated, simulated or tested at scale. The only way to be sure is to trial it at full scale. Our first system should be regarded as a beta system, allowing us to eliminate the last remaining uncertainties before scaling up.”
Assuming there are no setbacks, that test will begin September 8.
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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