Great Oceanic garbage patches - what to do?
Meg White of BuzzFlash published an article titled Giant 'Islands' of Garbage Floating in the Ocean, With No Fix in Sight. Yet...
You may have heard of a great accumulation of plastic garbage in certain areas of the oceans. It's all stuff we throw away and it keeps accumulating because plastic does not easily degrade. Birds and fish eat it, mistaking the pieces of plastic for food.
Image credit: Ocean Conservancy
"The dangers of these garbage patches are great in both quantity and quality. Marine animals of all sizes, from zooplankton to whales, mistake the plastic for food. Some organisms become entangled in the mass and die", says Meg White.
We can of course combat the continued accumulation of that garbage by controlling what we throw away, but that is a slow process, and it does nothing about what's already there and which will continue to float where it is for decades if not centuries to come.
As for the trash that's already there, many throw their hands in the air nihilistically. "There's just too much, and the ocean is just too big," said one expert about the possibility of cleaning up the garbage patches.
No one seems to have a solution for what's already there, other than waiting for it to magically disappear or kind of nebulously suggesting that the stuff should really be collected and brought to land, a truly Herculean task to say the least.
But there is a solution, and it isn't too difficult either:
Turn it into something useful
What would be wrong with turning the garbage that is accumulating into something useful, I commented on Meg White's article.
Of course we should phase out throwing plastic garbage away where it gets washed into rivers and eventually ends up in the Oceans, or throwing the stuff into the water from cruise and other ships. That's just good practice, but it will need some education and some being hard with polluters. And it will need time.
But in the meantime, we have a lot of material accumulating in a few places, which it is neither economically viable nor tecnically feasible to collect and transport to land, where it can be re-cycled or buried.
So why not turn the garbage into something useful? My vision is to have some ships equipped to fish the garbage out of the sea, process it into cubes or slabs that enclose sufficient air within the plastic to float, and then just throw out those cubes or slabs right into the Ocean again, there in the area where the garbage accumulates.
Later on, when enough of those building blocks are swimming around at the center of each gyre, we should find a way to lock them together and create great swimming islands.
I could think of a number of uses for those islands that are sitting on the recycled garbage, but others might be smarter than me in that. Some of you might have great uses for those remote islands that are more or less stationary at the center of a great Ocean vortex.
So perhaps it's best to just do one thing at a time, first think about what it would take to make floating bricks out of the stuff that could later serve as building material.
Later on, we can always take it further, finding some good uses for those new islands, while cutting off the supply of more garbage...
Video: Garbage Island
CNN's news to me clip of 'Garbage Island', a floating garbage island that is twice the size of Texas. Watch this video and see why it matters to you.