Sunday, April 7, 2013

at sea with Crow

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


Rob-bear said...

Please thank Crow for me, susan. A very interesting project which Boyan Slat has undertaken. I can see the immediate value!

At least nobody on board shot the Albatross! Good news for them.

Trust the weather has turned a bit for the better.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting

linda said...

Did you see the photo of that beach?? omg, what a terrible thing we do in our lazy ignorance. these gyres certainly prove the "out of sight, out of mind" POV we humans seem to have about most everything that doesn't appear right in front of our eyes, noses, mouths or dwellings... what if we were fish? i often find myself wondering if the ocean liners deliberately avoid these things so their travelers don't have to be upset...? maybe they are too far out to sea...

ah well, dear susan, thanks for this sweet little drawing. are you planning to paint it? it looks like it could be part of a story ? it is good to see a post from you tho i have been a bit behind. i hope that spring has found you back there in the frozen north. perhaps there are a few daffys and such popping up... and your window is fixed too. :)

much love, my dear~

Lydia said...

What a beautiful drawing. What an inspiring letter Crow sent home. What encouraging news he shared. I do despair about the conditions of our oceans, and wish I had a hat with an insignia like Crow is wearing....

Warm the brandy and make sure the fruitcake is old for your dear traveler. Pet his feathers for me when he gets home.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing to get rid of all that waste and plastic. Now all we have to do is keep the government from taxing it.

I rarely drink from plastic bottles, but when I do, I recycle them. Not sure if that helps, but that's all I can do. I have to drink something at the ballpark, and I don't like beer or soda.

Love the drawing, the pigtails on the little girl are perfect. :-)


susan said...

I'll be sure to give Crow your thanks. It would be wonderful if his ideas could be made real.

That poem is among the coolest stories ever told. Yes, thank goodness.

It snowed again yesterday but today looks fine for a long walk.

Best wishes.

susan said...

Oh Linda, I saw pictures that made me cry - ones I'd never link to but should be understood by everyone. The gyres aren't on most sailing routes so far as I know and most cruise ships seem to stick close to shore so they can dock at fancy ports. From what I can understand, only a small about of plastic trash seen from boats as the majority of it lies beneath. You really do get a better idea from seeing shorelines. At the beach park last fall, after one of the big storms, we saw hundreds of little pastel colored objects. On closer inspection they turned out to be tampon applicators :(

I'm happy you like the drawing. For some reason unknown to me I don't seem able to concentrate on painting lately. I'll keep this one aside for future reference though.

Yesterday it snowed. Today is fine. One of these days I'll be able to leave the coat and gloves at home. Ahhh.

I hope you're feeling a little better with each passing day.

susan said...

Thanks, my friend. Crow may have a low opinion of our leaders but he's very fond of people. We need all the encouragement we can get. Ha, the inscription on his hat was a last minute thing. I need one too.

I will give him your regards along with his first snifter.

susan said...

The amount of single use plastic in the world is frightening for sure.

I took to refilling a water bottle at home and putting it in the refrigerator ready for the next walk. I think soda should be outlawed as unfit for human consumption; beer is okay but gives me a headache and probably not good for hydration anyway.

I liked the little girl too. Thanks :-)

gfid said...

And he is a boy! You know you've passed the point of no return when scientists start looking to you like children. Shameful that we've made such a mess to leave behind for our kids. this is a good Reminder to me to renew my 'no plastic bags' policy. i've been very lazy and forgetful lately.... in the doldrums as well, with no travel required. I hope Crow has made it safely back to warmed brandy and aged fruitcake

Sean Jeating said...

There's not enough brandy to keep up with the swarming stupidity of – ha ha ha – homo sapiens sapiens.
It would be interesting to fall asleep and wake up in the following millennium.
The peace of the night.

marja-leena said...

Depressing how mankind destroys nature, first by inventing plastics, then throwing it out anywhere and everywhere. I've heard of that horrible gyre. Oh, there's hope in Boylan Slat's invention - hope it can be made to work! Thank to Crow and you, Suan for sharing this informatin, and for your lovely drawing.

Oh, just remembered something I read recently.Remember the Fukushima nuclear disaster? The west coast of North America has been expecting a lot of trash to float across the Pacific to our shores. Sure there's been some from Japan but most of it is our own trash!!

Sending you wishes for spring's arrival!

susan said...

I think great scientists are much like great poets in that they have their power years when they're young. The thing that makes me feel bad is that, in general, people aren't given alternatives. Yes, we can make up our own minds about how we behave but single use plastic should be eradicated. Maybe I'll wrap all my purchases in cabbage leaves from now on.

Crow is on the wing and the brandy is warmed.

susan said...

I know - nor whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, sake, schnapps, akavit, ouzo or any others we could name. In aggregate we appear to be a terminally stupid species. Nevertheless, I have this little well of optimism as well. Waking up in the next millennium might prove that valid.

Peace of the night to you too, Sean.

susan said...

Some say our first mistake was agriculture. They may be correct but our addiction to fossil fuels has been a serious blunder. Unfortunately, there are now five confirmed plastic polluted gyres with another developing near the South Pole. I do hope that Boylan Slat's proposal will be taken seriously as it sounds like it would help.

Yes, Fukushima is still an ongoing mess in more ways than just floating physical debris, but it doesn't surprise me at all to learn most of the garbage found is home grown. We see stuff floating in the harbor here after a big enough storm.

I'm pleased as always to know you liked the drawing. Spring is balancing on the cusp.

Life As I Know It Now said...

A very positive influence is this young man and I am glad to read these words and think that there are those who do care and will do something about this mess we are in. Thank you Crow! :)

Don QuiScottie said...

A very interesting report from a fine Crow. Thanks.

susan said...

We hear so many bad reports of young people I was glad to hear this news from Crow as well. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this got made?

susan said...

Crow and I are both happy you enjoyed it.

gfid said...

Purchases wrapped in cabbage leaves. :0)

Tied up with sweet pea vines.

You so often make me think of the quote from Ghandi..... Be the change you want to see in he world.

susan said...

We need to come up with more fun packaging ideas :-)

He was the real deal while I just talk a good game.

Randal Graves said...

It's not the beach, but you'd be surprised (probably not) just how many people chuck junk out the window while on the bus that's not biodegradable orange peels and the like.

susan said...

Isn't littering an inalienable right under the Constitution?

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
Always a pleasure to view your drawings and interesting posts. As our friend Crow observed, plastic is a curse or (excuse pun) Albatross around our necks.
Thankfully there are always positive inventive folk around as observed by Crow with a clean up solution to hand. Hopefully one day to see our blue world return more to its pristine state, from a bird’s eye view!!

okjimm said...

great post. forwarded to my daughter. She recycles everything she can....even freezes biodegradable waste at her apartment til she can get it to a compost bin. Hates plastic. nasty stuff.

gfid said...

If millions over-consuming can get us into this mess, it'll take millions doing their small part to shift the balance to safety. We all need to do what we're good at... You're good at telling it like it is.... And Crow...... In a league all his own.

susan said...

Yes, it certainly is that. Now if only those inventive folk could get a bit more encouragement perhaps we'd be able to look forward to a happier outcome.
All best wishes.

susan said...

I'm so glad to sent it on to your daughter. She's another of these wonderful kids who are trying to make positive things happen.

susan said...

It seems to be all about convenience, doesn't it? You're right that it would take a sea change in human activity to turn this around. Crow is ever hopeful while I'm not so sure.