Boyan Slat’s plan to have the oceans clean themselves of plastic – Reality or Idiocy?

“Every year, we produce about three hundred million tons of plastic…”

Stone Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age – Now the Plastic Age is killing our oceans. 19 year old Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat has a plan, but some say they’ve heard it all before and it won’t work. Who is correct?

After watching Slat’s talk at TED, visiting his website and then reading a piece by Stiv Wilson, I’m less excited about Slat’s idea but more determined that we have to find something, some technology or natural process to clean up the mess. Even if we could stop making the mess, that alone won’t be enough.

The sea is cruel and it’s really really really big

The nonprofit I work for, as part of its mission, takes people other than scientists on expeditions to the gyres. Why? It’s simple; we want regular people, like Slat, to understand the scale of the problem and the vectors that contribute to the difficulty of solving it by being informed by a firsthand vantage. So far, we’ve taken one gyre cleanup advocate across the South Atlantic, from Brazil to South Africa. We had 22 days of storms with seas in excess of 30 feet at times. By the time we got to the other side, some 30+ days later, he’d abandoned his hope of cleaning the gyres once he realized how big a ‘place’ we’re talking about. What I find astonishing is that out of all the gyre cleanup proponents I’ve met, none of them have ever been to the gyres.

Read Stiv Wilson’s article The Fallacy of Cleaning the Gyres of Plastic With a Floating “Ocean Cleanup Array”

Thanks to an old friend for telling us about Boyan Slat: “Not sure how effective this young man’s ideas are but I love the enthusiasm of one who is willing to lead and inspire!”

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