Children: Let Them Amaze You
The Ocean Cleanup
A little over two years ago, Ponder ran an article about Boyan Slat, a teenager from the Netherlands who came up with an idea to clean up the plastic debris in the oceans. At the time I wrote the article, he had just begun to work on the prototype that started off as a sketch on a napkin.
On June 23, 2016, “Boomy McBoomface”, set out to sea for a year-long test run. Boomy will sweep across the ocean at twice the depth of previous operations, gathering debris and funneling it into cones which will be picked up by boats and transported to land for future use as recycled products. At the end of the year, Boomy will head to Japan for further test runs. By 2020, Boomy will take on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii.
Who’s funding this? Some donations have come in through crowd-funding, and the Dutch government is providing financial backing equaling about $300 million dollars.
Here’s an excerpt from an article by Arthur Nelson in The Guardian, June 22, 2016:
The largely crowd-funded project has caught the imagination of a new generation in the Netherlands. In no small part this is down to the unaffected charisma of its 21-year-old founder, Boyan Slat, a student dropout who has become an environmental entrepreneur.
“The key objective of these tests is to see if we can build something that can survive at sea for years if not decades,” he said. “We want to test the efficiency of the system, understand its behaviour, and see what damage it suffers over time from abrasion or fatigue.”
After promising tests at the Marin research institute in Wageningen earlier this year, the prototype was developed with a renowned dredging and marine contractor, Royal Boskalis Westminster. Peter Berdowski, the firm’s CEO, described it as “a wonderful concept” and “very inspiring”.
The Dutch government is so convinced of its feasibility that it is taking Slat to Indonesia in November, as part of a high-level climate and trade mission, led by the prime minister, Mark Rutte. Discussions are likely to focus on the possibility of attaching the barrier to the mouths of rivers as a way of staunching the 800 tonnes of plastic that flow into the Pacific and Indian oceans every year.
[...] In 2014, 311m tonnes of plastic were produced around the world, a 20-fold increase since 1964. It is expected to quadruple again by mid-century.
A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation earlier this year predicted that there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 unless urgent action was taken.
Thanks to Boyan Slat, such urgent action is underway.