I don’t know about you, but there are times when I see news bulletins or read an op ed piece and the sheer negative of the report overwhelms me. Some years ago I saw footage of plastic waste in the ocean and I had steam coming out of my ears. How could it come to this? Such a mess!
Boyan Slat, a young engineering student has one proposed solution to the problem. Slat encountered plastic in the Mediterranean Ocean and at 17 yrs began working on a solution to plastic polution in the ocean. We’ve all seen the shocking footage of marine life snarled in plastic, or the photos of granular plastic which makes the sand look coloured. But Slat has at least put his mind to it. Of course, his proposal has attracted both support and criticism. He has raised in excess of 27 million US for his company – Ocean Cleanup, but some in the scientific community have pooh-pooed the idea because it is yet untested in the wild. However, some criticism has come from those who believe that we should be working solely on prevention.
There will will always be a need for constructive criticism especially in testing and peer reviewing scientic work, but I wish that the opinionated people who haven’t a clue would butt out. It would be nice to live in a world where prevention was the sole effort in anything, but on the face of it, our track record as a species is that prevention is hard won. I don’t work in binaries if I can help it, and my prefernece is to use both prevention and reactive solutions together. Besides, I’m a born skeptic in regard to the human condition, and I believe that even with prevention methods, we would still have a problem of plastic in the ocean. Some polution is just by negligence or accident.
Even if this doesn’t work, at least he’s tried, and I applaud that. We will soon find out as the company are set to deploy this year. For me, this is a positive step, and the scientific community have been engaged in a new way forward to resolving a mess of our own making. And in my view, a step forward invites more.