A serious effort at cleaning up Pacific garbage patch

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I have read the press reports and certainly wish them success. One thing missing is just how much plastic they have recovered in “X” time period. It would give a better picture of how well this thing is working.

I commend Maersk for being involved in this project. Very good PR but it must cost them a lot to have the ship deployed.

Maersk projects it will take 5 years to remove 50% of the 80,000 tonnes of plastic in the patch.

This is the same one that didn’t work and came apart when they tried it a year ago. They think they’ve fixed it.

They are also planning on scaling it up once they work out all the bugs.

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I already then predicted that the floating booms would be smashed to pieces. These good willing guys who invented this contraption had no idea about ocean weather conditions, as none landlubbers have for that matter.

I remember that you did.

There is a not so old saying that goes; “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you”.
But this does not involve skydiving, only some “stuff” floating around on the ocean, so that last bit should be changed to, “TRY AND TRY AGAIN until you succeed”.

I find it a bit difficult to believe that Maersk does not know anything about ocean weather though.

The Naval Architects that design the ship that is sailing around the world are mostly “landlubbers”, but I hope they know at least SOMETHING about ocean weather and what it can do to ships and other floating structures.


I think they’re providing a ship. The actual device/boom is the brainchild of a young Netherlander who gave up his studies in aeronautical engineering to pursue this seven years ago. He’s 25 now.

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Well yeah, that may be but I doubt Maersk would set aside from commerce a ship and crew to an endeavor doomed to failure.
Besides, it’s for a good cause and scores baucoup points with the environmental crowd. It may be a small contribution to the overall picture but if the publicity makes people think twice about using the ocean as a garbage dump, I say Godspeed.

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It’s a serious beginning at tackling one corner of the problem. I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better, but eventually we’ll get it sorted if we don’t kill ourselves first.

This report has spread like wildfire around the world on more or less serious new sources:

Not sure if whoever published this first had their facts right.

The author of the referenced article (RR Helm) is a postdoc studying sea anemones and jellyfish at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I find it interesting he does not offer any solutions so the alternative is to do what…nothing?

He said they should work closer to shore, and not in the gyres. But also, his field is sea life, not plastic cleanup. He’s filling in an area where the plastic cleanup people are making some mistakes in their assumptions. They should take it seriously even if the eventual answer is yes, we are going to deliberately sacrifice this ecosystem in service of the good of many other ecosystems.

Right, but the gyres is where the plastic collects. As his field is sea life, what is the impact of all this plastic on said sea life? When I read the article I just could not help but think of all the “Quality Management” seminars I sat through. They would call this guy a “blocker”.

The Ocean Cleanup group responded to Helm’s story with its own point: The plastic already threatens the 117 endangered ocean species that live there, and it’s causing ongoing damage to that ecosystem. “There is strong evidence that the hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic plastic that is floating in the ocean is damaging ecosystems, which, ironically, may include the neuston,” said Claire Verhagen, a spokesperson for The Ocean Cleanup

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Yes, it’s obvious that his answer doesn’t scale well.

That’s a much better response than their previous one – except for its weasel words (“may include”) and loaded words (“toxic”), and lack of pointers to where the strong evidence comes from and what it really says.**

**call me a cynic. I’ve learned the hard way to never believe what any advocates and spokescritters say about just about anything – follow the chain of references to the actual paper and work down, because sure as little green apples someone along the way either is lying or misunderstands or hopes you will misunderstand or all the above. It’s bloody tedious.

Appearance may be more important the reality in this case.

Marine oil spill cleanups are 99% PR. If for every one photo of an oiled bird the public sees ten photos showing cleanup workers deploying bright yellow containment booms that would be considered a successful cleanup. A very small percentage of oil is actually recovered.

How many people will even hear of the neuston much less understand it?


The 2 patches combined only occupy maybe 10% of the innermost zone of the ecosystem so the neuston guardians may be overreacting.


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