My friend Crow has been in the Doldrums recently. By that I don't mean he's been in a particularly grim mood, although where he's been is hardly pleasant, but that he visited a couple of the large oceanic gyres where a lot of plastic garbage accumulates. It's sadly true a number of people aren't that bothered about where the plastic goes once it's out of sight, but the fact is the millions of tons of it present in the oceans kills a huge number of aquatic animals and sea birds every year. If that weren't bad enough, the chemicals that degraded plastic releases serve as a transport medium for pollutants (including PCB and DDT) that accumulates in the food chain.
Okay, we know all that (or should) but what to do about it? Crow just sent me this picture and a letter about someone he met on his recent travels he's asked me to share with you.
My dear susan,
Whilst flying across the Pacific in company with an albatross I happened upon a rickety sailing ship becalmed in turgid waters and sitting next to a large fan-like device. Being curious I slowed to see if help was required as my friend flew on after calling back to me, 'Ware men'. I knew what he meant but albatrosses have more to fear from people than we crows.
On alighting, I found the small crew celebrating the results of some project. It turned out a young man called Boylan Slat, a student from Holland, had just finished a successful test run of a device which could potentially remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic waste from the world's oceans. Not that single unit by itself, of course, but he sees it as the precursor of an Ocean Cleanup Array consisting of a network of floating booms with central processing platforms. Since humans with money enough to build such projects don't like to spend any of it unless they're guaranteed more, the other good news was hearing the nasty stuff could be recycled at a profit.
I was pleased to rest a while, so as we sat sipping lemonade looking at the diamond shaped platform with its two wing-like booms, he explained his reasons for developing the system.
"Plastic pollution costs governments, companies and individuals millions of dollars in damages per year, due to loss in tourism, vessel damages and (inefficient) beach clean-ups. The ultimate solution to plastic pollution is clear; we need to close the tap, by ending our reliance on disposable plastic items/packaging, we need proper waste management globally, and we need to become aware of the problems our garbage is creating. It will require drastic changes on legislative, industrial and individual levels of society. However, even if we close the tap, we need to get out what's already in the oceans. We'll need a combination of both worlds, and we'll need them soon."
If you'd like to see pictures and read more about his ingenious proposal he has a web site you can visit called 'The Ocean Cleanup'.
It does sound interesting as well as positive. You well know I've seen far too much of man's stupidity over the millennia but as I flew away to catch up with my friend, I remembered another brave boy from Holland who saved his land using just one finger. You never know.
I shall be home soon, my dear friend. Warm up the brandy if you will and please make sure the fruitcake is old.
Best regards from your fond companion,
ps: the Albatross said:
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge