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View Diary: Plastic Island: Twice the Size of Texas & Growing (298 comments)

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  •  It's not as easy as it sounds. (5+ / 0-)

    First, the stuff breaks down into tiny pieces so that it's more of a plastic slurry - it's not big chunks like in that first photo, so not easily skimmed up with nets.  

    Also, the affected area is unbelievably huge.  It's like twice the size of Texas, and extends far below the surface.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:14:30 PM PDT

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    •  Industry solves problems like this every day (11+ / 0-)

      You actually benefit from it being huge. Then it can attract long-term investment. It needs engineers to solve the problem. If it is small chunks then it's even easier to recycle because it can be pumped and filtered out of seawater. Obviously you don't want it there in the first place. But since it is, let's not defeat ourselves before we start. This is an engineering problem and will yield to an engineering solution.

      Ambition is when you follow your dreams. Insanity is when they follow you.

      by Batfish on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:27:17 PM PDT

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      •  Actually, in this case (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kainah, lineatus, Leftcandid

        I'm not sure this is true. The sun is biodegrading these chunks into a soup. It's also much tougher to recycle plastics without knowing what the # at the bottom is.

        The best way to save the planet is to keep laughing.

        by LaughingPlanet on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:36:21 PM PDT

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      •  Absolutely - don't mean to imply it's hopeless (4+ / 0-)

        Just saying that it's definitely going to be a bigger undertaking than most people realize - all the more reason to start focussing on it now.  And in any event, the first step is to stop adding to the problem (much the same situation as climate change).

        They only call it Class War when we fight back.

        by lineatus on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 06:00:57 PM PDT

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        •  Worth a few 100 mil. There are plenty of bad-ass (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RosyFinch, lineatus

          chemists, chemical engineers, marine biologists and other such professionals who could tackle this problem ASAP, provided they have funding and support.

          Science costs $$, but it's some of the best money we could possibly spend.

          Or we can just wait a while until most of the ocean foodchain is toxed with plastic micro-crappage.

          "News is what somebody, somewhere wants to suppress. All the rest is advertising." -Lord Northcliffe

          by MackInTheBox on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 06:42:33 PM PDT

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          •  There is work being done. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MackInTheBox, lineatus

            Se my various up-sting posts on this thread. Bio-digestion would be the most promising solution but given the chemical resistance and toughness of plastics, it will be very tricky to make something that eats this crap and not everything else around it.

            Consider the fact that plastics and other living things have one thing in common, carbon based chemistry.

            Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

            by koNko on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 10:08:52 PM PDT

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      •  Could also (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Batfish, lineatus

        have a tax on plastic to subsidize a clean up operation, or the start up of one, until it becaomes profitable.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 06:02:58 PM PDT

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    •  Onsite reprocessing or "mining" factories? (5+ / 0-)

      I do economic research and one of the major factors in industrial location is the proximity to raw materials. This is raw material for free, essentially. We have seaborne fish processing, why not seaborne plastic processing or mining of the resource that could eat up the gyre. Given the magnitude, it would take many years to exhaust what could be viewed in a similar fashion to a natural resource.

      Yes we did, yes we will. President Obama

      by marketgeek on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:47:23 PM PDT

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      •  One proposal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marketgeek

        Is filters powered by tidal motion, but you need to consider the huge area and volume of wather to be filtered, and to cost/energy to transport wherever.

        And if you do, what material have you got and how to use it?

        Any potential application/use is on land, sooner or later you have to go from point A to Point B.

        Not a simple problem save transformation on site, ie, floating incinerator/cogeneration plants of bio-digestion.

        The first is far-fatched, the difficult at best (but I believe the most likely solution).

        Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

        by koNko on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 10:14:29 PM PDT

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    •  Though it may help somewhat (0+ / 0-)

      If we can at least capture the big stuff before it breaks down.

      I keep wondering if there's a way to use the negative electrical charge of plastic to somehow attract the tiny plastic bits, while leaving the critters in place - like creating some kind of static electrical attractor to draw the plastic particles toward it. I imagine it would be confounded by the sodium in the water, but, man would it be nice if something worked...

      Hey guys! There's a word for bad assets, they're called liabilities!

      by mataliandy on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 09:57:49 PM PDT

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