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

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  •  Stupid Scientific Question (1+ / 0-)
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    As a scientist, I would think that with nature collecting the plastic junk at one place that it should be "easy" to start fishing the material out to clean up the ocean a bit? Or is it simply too expensive and/or we have no political will to do any of this?

    If we collect all the plastic in a place, I would think that one day some enterprising soul can make use of it to harvest an industrially significant amount of energy.

    •  The trick is minimizing the collateral damage (0+ / 0-)

      to the ocean life that intermingles with the trash.

      Although it will probably mostly die off in that area eventually, anyway.

      So sad...

      A million people can call the mountains a fiction, yet it need not trouble you as you stand atop them. - Randall Munroe xkcd

      by Mountain Don on Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 11:53:33 PM PDT

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      •  I Think (1+ / 0-)
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        I will agree with your second assessment, that the ocean life will mostly die off, with some living in some sort of equilibrium which is drastically different from the one before. Given the magnitude of the devestation, I don't think there is possibly any "trick" to minimizing the collateral damage anymore.

        In a sense though it's probably better that the material is concentrated into certain areas by nature. The devestation and poisoning is more "local", and when future generations figure out the technology and do want to clean it up it would be far, far easier.

        •  Technology isn't a problem I think, (2+ / 0-)
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          subtropolis, sesquioxide

          not to get the stuff from where it is now to somewhere else.

          You need a dredge, an Archimedean screw would probably work fine, a shredder to cut the solids into smaller peices, some sieves and filters to separate the water from the solid matter and a compactor to reduce the volume. Then you need a few mammoth tankers to tranport it to a facility where it can be separated and recycled. Considering the volume, it would be an ongoing operation for a few decades, a plastic mine in the middle of the ocean so to speak. If oil prices go up enough, it might even be economically feasable.

          Obama 2008: Hope Obama 2012: Confidence

          by Calouste on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 03:11:41 AM PDT

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    •  Scale (0+ / 0-)

      As a scientist, I would think that with nature collecting the plastic junk at one place that it should be "easy" to start fishing the material out to clean up the ocean a bit?

      It's twice the size of Texas and 300 feet deep.  You could put every garbage barge on the planet on the job for a decade and not get it all.

      •  so maybe we'd better start soon (0+ / 0-)

        I'm only half-joking. I have no idea how we're going to deal with all of this shit. What we have on land is bad enough.

        "They're telling us something we don't understand"
        General Charles de Gaulle, Mai '68

        by subtropolis on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 07:11:54 AM PDT

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    •  Plastic Ice Floes for the Polar Bears (2+ / 0-)
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      sesquioxide, LaughingPlanet

      Interesting idea someone posted on one of these diaries.  I forget who it was but the idea was to gather up the plastic and make fake ice flows for the polar bears out of it.  There are probably reasons it can't/won't be done, but I loved the idea.

      "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Mark Twain

      by Shaniriver on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 06:41:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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