Project Kaisei’s Mission to Save the World

Pacific Garbage

Makind’s influence on this planet is visible virtually everywhere. Our waste doesn’t disappear as we toss it out. Much of it is now floating in the Pacific Ocean, a garbage patch the size of Texas, and also its twin, the Atlantic Garbage Patch.

Trash constantly spirals off these spinning, floating piles of garbage and washes onto beaches. The piles are 100 feet deep in spots, and 80% of it comes from land sources, with rest coming from container spills, fishing equipment, and oil platforms.

antarctica trash

This month scientists also discovered trash and plastics are starting to wash through the costal seas of Antarctica, some of the most remote and pristine wasters on Earth. Plastics appear to be the main culprit. So much of it never breaks down, so on it floats, invading our oceans and beaches.

The last unspoiled, slice of our planet is deep below the oceans surface in Antarctica. This is one of the few areas that remain plastic free, according to the researchers:

“The seabeds immediately surrounding continental Antarctica are probably the last environments on the planet yet to be reached by plastics, but with pieces floating into the surface of the Amundsen Sea this seems likely to change soon. Our knowledge now touches every sea, but so does our legacy of lost and discarded plastic.”

mission kaisei

Project Kaisei studies the situation

So what’s being done? A joint effort dubbed Project Kaisei, a non-profit based in San Francisco and Hong Kong, is sending out ships, including the New Horizon, a Scripps Oceanography Vessel, to begin the cleanup process. Initial experiments with cleanup were conducted in 2009, this summer moor evessels are being sent to try different cleanup techniques, and the captured waste is being researched to judge the feasibility of converting it into fuel.

There’s uncertainly though, over whether a cleanup is even realistically possible. Nearly all scientists who speak about the subject raise the same point: It comes down to managing waste on land, where most of the trash originates. They recommend lobbying companies to find alternatives to plastic, especially environmentally safe, reusable packaging. Recycling programs should be expanded to accommodate more types of plastic, and the public must be educated about their value.

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