r/Futurology ∞ transit umbra, lux permanet ☥ Sep 23 '22 Helpful 3 Wholesome 4 All-Seeing Upvote 1 Take My Energy 2 Wholesome Seal of Approval 1 Silver 3

A Dutch NGO that has cleaned up 1/1000th of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, says its technology can scale up to eliminate it completely. Environment

https://theoceancleanup.com/updates/first-100000-kg-removed-from-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch/
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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

It's nonsense- Ocean Cleanup started out well-intentioned but patently useless and has devolved into an awful display trying to justify its existence and philanthropic funding.

Their efforts with river output is much better, but mostly uses existing technology employed the world over.

Edit - sources.

https://www.deepseanews.com/tag/ocean-cleanup/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/down-to-earth/22949475/ocean-plastic-pollution-cleanup

https://www.southernfriedscience.com/i-asked-15-ocean-plastic-pollution-experts-about-the-ocean-cleanup-project-and-they-have-concerns/

https://www.greenmatters.com/p/the-ocean-cleanup-controversy

There are few academic papers on the specific topic of oceancleanup and most are authored by the company itself. There are also a lot of issues with microplastic research at the best of times as a hot topic with ever-changing methologies.

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u/mib_sum1ls Sep 23 '22

thank you for your concise rebuttal. I read the articles you linked and this is exactly the info I come to the comments section for.

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22

You're very welcome. I'm not trying to be negative, just cautioning against uncritical acceptance of what an NGO says.

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

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u/skeetybadity Sep 23 '22

I didn’t look into what Mafiafish stated but there is a very real difference between being bitter and real. Just dumping money into something that is effectively doing nothing doesn’t help anything. It would be asinine to not do research to see if the project is productive.

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u/Differently Sep 23 '22

The profit margins on making well-edited videos for Twitter and such are pretty great. Y'know, the NowThis style with the yellow and white text?

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

I'm an oceanography postdoc who has worked in the Pacific "garbage patch" and knows of no other serious researcher who sees the Ocean Cleanup platform as a worthwhile effort.

They do have some great scientists working on plastic dispersion models but most of those are just collaborators working at normal universities or institutes : ergo Ocean Cleanup is just a means of funding, not a progenitor of ideas.

The issue is that they went to execution without actually coming up with anything close to a sensible solution. The days of trial and error for engineering projects stopped in the 1200s - proper design and benchtesting, using the existing expertise of scientists and engineers is how we do stuff not venture capital and philanthropists getting behind a charismatic child.

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22

Of course, but it is so very diffuse and water so dense that pulling a massive boom that is strong enough to not break with a ship big enough to pull such a structure is just magnitudes more resources wasted and pollution caused.

Macroplastics also act as habitat and sometimes a means of organic carbon export but ultimately we need some kind of passive or wind/wave driven system or using electric ships with very small crews to make it worthwhile, and that's assuming the boom system actually works in a meaningful way.

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u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

I never gave any allusion to such a scheme.

My issues are the same as most other scientists: anything that resembles their current and intended methodology removes essentially no plastic while consuming vast amounts of energy.

Hence my guess that the only way to scale such an effort is using lots of large platforms that consume minimal or renewable energy and require no or small crews.

As laudable as trying to solve the problem is, a Dutch teenager didn't have some spark of genius that somehow eluded the world's scientists and environmental engineers, they just did the math and realized that that kind of approach was a non-starter.

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u/LjSpike Sep 23 '22

Here's a question, but couldn't you use the prevailing wind patterns and setup two pillars between which to place the giant boom, so over several months it uses the wind to blow garbage into it, catch it, then every so often a disposal ship comes and carts off all the rubbish?

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22

Perhaps. You'd need a big mooring setup given the depths out there (4200-6800m) as the drag would be extreme and it may even be difficult to find a set up that balances being bouyant enough to float with that much cable and boom/net with being strong enough for the drag caused by currents and wind.

It would also be a potential hazard for some marine life.

The honest answer is that most of these kinds of ideas will have been bounced around and their validity tested. It just makes more sense to stop at the source than waste 100x the resources to clean up 0.01x the plastic as inshore efforts.

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u/DummyThiccEgirl Sep 23 '22

"Lasting changes" starts with people not telling other people to do their part and with people telling other people to realize the term "carbon footprint" was created by BP in 2005 to push corporate pollution (what actually causes climate change) onto the people.

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u/NorionV Sep 23 '22

I've been saying this for... well, a really long time. People just don't want to pick up the idea that this is a problem that literally, effectively exists on a corporate / industrial level. Even if we all personally recycled and never littered... nothing would change.

We either need to completely overhaul how everyone lives in modern society (good fucking luck), or we need to get corporations to be more responsible and move in the direction of more sustainable methods of living, since they're functionally leading the charge for everything we do in the world today.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, yeah - it always goes back to big businesses.

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u/Fofodrip Sep 23 '22

It's the government's role to lead the change not the corporations.

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u/DummyThiccEgirl Sep 23 '22

Except the government is run by the corporations at this point.

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u/Fofodrip Sep 23 '22

That's a bit of an exxageration.

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u/LjSpike Sep 23 '22

Not entirely. Corporations do have a sufficiently large influence on several major governments that TNCs can effectively ensure a loophole for anything they wish to do can exist. It's maybe not quite the dystopian levels yet, but it's not a particularly good situation.

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u/NorionV Sep 23 '22

Uncapped campaign contributions and the net worth of most of our congress disagrees with you.

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u/NorionV Sep 23 '22

The theoretical roles or how it 'should' be doesn't matter - this is our reality.

Corporations run everything. My country's federal government is bought and paid for by large businesses - I imagine the same is true of other wealthy countries to various degrees.

Also, I did say we need to get corporations to be more responsible. So you should vote for better reps and unionize if you really want things to change. Corps aren't going to give us our power back of their own accord. We must take it.

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u/Cleistheknees Sep 23 '22

Shut the fuck up. Requiring that companies who are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars to fight climate change and pollution to actually be transparent and substantiate their claims is not bitter. It’s absolutely vital, or else all the money and momentum of climate change action will be swept up by charlatans and hype men, while people like you defend them.

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u/the_howlermonkey Sep 23 '22

My understanding is that this project is trying to catch plastics/debris from problematic deltas, while cleanig up the gyre. With that in mind, this isnt a project that is completed over night.... but one that will only be successful in stages. i dont think this is nonsense.

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22

The work on deltas is all good, and pivoting to that makes sense. The work in the gyre is totally ineffectual at best and counterproductive at worst.

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u/the_howlermonkey Sep 23 '22

Can you sum up for me why they are ineffective or counterproductive? Plugging the leak (the deltas) while cleaning up the giant patch doesnt SEEM like a bad thing... when the alternative is to plug the leaks, while doing nothing to clean up the ocean. I am not being argumentative or dismissive. I just dont understand how this is more wasteful than doing nothing.

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u/mafiafish Sep 23 '22

It's like you driving around Dakota in a huge Hummer trying to catch all the bees in your butterfly net out the window.

The ocean is massive, boat and boom is tiny and resource intensive. Plastic is very diffuse and mostly small ,even in the "garbage patch".

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u/skunk_ink Sep 23 '22

Also, even if they did clean up 1/1000 of the patch. It has taken them 5 years to do so. So we are celebrating that in 5000 years the patch will be cleaned up?