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The biggest project on cleaning of the world ocean has started

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

We very much support our adherents and wish them further successful activity in cleaning of oceans of garbage

The great Pacific garbage patch is real. It cannot be seen from space and is difficult to see with the human eye. It is not a floating island of rubbish that can be kicked or that looks like a landfill. But this does not reduce the damage to ecosystems. Plankton are dying EN masse, and potentially, under certain conditions, we can get a problem worse than Global warming.

But the 18-year-old from the Netherlands decided not to put up with it. And, with the support of thousands of volunteers and several IT billionaires, organized a global project Ocean Cleanup, which recently finally moved into an active phase. The goal is to remove half of the Big garbage patch within the next few years.

What now

The garbage patch in the Pacific ocean has grown to an area comparable to India. Its center, the most clogged area, is estimated to extend to 1.6 million square kilometers, and the periphery-another 3.5-4.5 million. This is more than a hundred million tons of debris that floats near the surface.

Of course, these are not floating one-piece plastic bags, as it is often represented (the number of such large objects is not more than a thousand per 1 km2). Basically, they are small pieces, the size of a chewing gum cube, or smaller. Such "cubes" already much more. In the most polluted areas – three per cubic meter, or 77,000 pieces per 1 km2 of surface area. In total, in the" spot " floats about a hundred billion pieces of such plastic debris.

But the main danger is concentrated in microparticles. Those who physically can't see with the human eye. Such pieces can be eaten by zooplankton. Fish larvae, small mollusks, crustaceans and other tiny inhabitants of the ocean, which make up most of the "population" of our planet. "Zooplankton", absorbing our plastic, die or get sick, animals that eat plankton suffer from this, and then, along the food chain, almost all creatures of the hydrosphere and biosphere, including humans.

Phytoplankton, unicellular algae and cyanobacteria, suffer less from plastic, but there is a big negative effect. Transparent particles gradually increase the water temperature, create greenhouse conditions, and the temperature increase prevents the normal development of algae. Fortunately, most of the phytoplankton just because of their dislike of heat floats a little North of the garbage patch. But nothing prevents them from one day colliding, which could cause an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions.

Ocean Cleanup

One boy, Bojan Slat, a Dutch inventor, volunteered to fight it. Diving in Greece, he realized that plastic bags in the sea swims much more than jellyfish. He dropped out of high school (majoring in Aerospace engineering) and organized the Ocean Cleanup project, coming up with a simple system for cleaning the seas and oceans. In 2013, at the age of 18, he was able to attract other enthusiasts, and received a grant of $100 thousand from the founder of PayPal Peter Thiel (the grant is given to young students who drop out to start their own projects).

Slad was able to raise another $2 million through crowdfunding, and with the active help of volunteers in 2015 launched the first stage of Ocean Cleanup. For such a large and ambitious project that wants to eventually clean up the world's oceans, it was a preliminary step: to gather all the information. Figure out how the stain spreads, what debris floats there, how to collect it most efficiently, and where to start the system first.

And the other day, after three years of raising money and improving technology, finally launched the second, main phase of the project. A large floating garbage collection system was launched in San Francisco Bay. The first target is a large clot between California and Hawaii.

In the near future it is planned to launch dozens more, and in the future – hundreds of other such "floating pontoons" in different parts of the Pacific ocean. Each of them will have to collect 70 tons of plastic per year, cruising in the direction of the currents. Bojan expects that as they gain experience, the platforms will improve, and their speed will increase, and the impact on ecosystems will decrease.

So far, the plans are to collect 50% of the plastic in the Great Pacific garbage patch by 2023, and 90% of the plastic by 2040. In principle, a very good pace, especially considering that earlier Bojan Slad expected to launch its system only in 2020.


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