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Barrier to Stop Plastic Waste From Reaching the Sea Launches in Amsterdam
The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.
Now, a Dutch start-up has launched a barrier device to remove plastic from canals and rivers while allowing fish to swim right through, as The Guardian reported.
The Great Bubble Barrier, an innovative start-up, teamed up with the Amsterdam municipal government and the regional water board to launch their device last week in Amsterdam's Westerdok Canal, at the tip of city's historic canal belt. The canal is an ideal starting point since it empties into the IJ river, which feeds the North Sea Canal and then the North Sea, as Silicon Canals reported.
"This is an important milestone," said Francis Zoet, co-founder of The Great Bubble Barrier start-up, as DutchNews reported. "This is the first project that is going to stop plastic from ending up in the sea."
The device consists of a pipe nearly 200 feet long that is punctured with holes and laid at the bottom of the canal. It sits at the canal bed on a diagonal line. Compressed air is pumped into the pipe, which then forms bubbles as it leaves. Since it is positioned diagonally, pieces of plastic are pushed toward the side of the canal by the bubbles. Then a floating platform captures the litter, as DutchNews reported.
Preliminary tests of the project, which has taken three years, show that the device is capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. Furthermore, it works 24 hours a day and does not interfere with shipping or wildlife, according to The Great Bubble Barrier.
"More than two-thirds of plastics in the ocean comes out of rivers and canals – so if you have to intercept it, why not do it in the rivers?" said Philip Ehrhorn, co-inventor of the technology, as The Guardian reported. "You can't put a physical barrier in a canal: it has to be open for wildlife and recreation."
The Great Bubble Barrier will supplement current cleanup efforts in Amsterdam. Each year, a team of five garbage boats removes nearly 92,600 pounds of trash from the city's waterways, but small pieces of trash and plastic at the bottom of the canals simply slip through the nets.
"Plastic in our water is becoming an increasing problem [and] has profound effects on the quality of our water and therefore on everything that lives in or near the water," said Sander Mager, a board member of The Great Bubble Barrier, at the launch, as DutchNews reported. "This is precisely why it is important for the water management board to collaborate intensively with others to make a stand against this socially urgent problem."
The trash collected by The Great Bubble Barrier will be collected separately from what the garbage boats collect. The plastics action group Schone Rivieren, which translates to Clean Rivers, will analyze the waste.
"Amsterdam's canals have enormous appeal," said Marieke van Doorninck, head of sustainability for Amsterdam council, as The Guardian reported. "But when you think of them, you don't think about plastic bottles and bags in the water. The bubble barrier will mean fewer plastics reach the ocean, and is a step towards better regulation of our ecosystem, to the benefit of man, beast and environment."
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Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.
A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.
If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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