Ocean Cleanup Team Unveils Solar Powered 'Interceptor' to Collect Plastic in Rivers
"We need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the ocean in the first place," Slat said.
Around eight million metric tons of plastic enters the world's oceans every year, where it threatens marine life. However, scientists like University of North Carolina, Asheville assistant professor Rebecca Helm warned that Ocean Cleanup's plan of scooping plastic from the ocean directly could also trap marine organisms. When the organization announced it had finally successfully collected plastic early in October, photographs revealed that this had indeed been the case.
Earlier this year I warned that @TheOceanCleanup would catch and kill floating marine life. This week they announce… https://t.co/D2bQ3m4q2x— Open Ocean Exploration (@Open Ocean Exploration)1570135850.0
Scientists have also argued that stopping plastic from entering the ocean in the first place would be more effective, Wired explained, and many were pleased that the non-profit seemed to be listening.
"I am really happy they finally moved toward the source of the litter,"Jan van Franeker of the Wageningen Marine Research institute told The Associated Press. "The design, from what I can see, looks pretty good."
Helm also tweeted that she was "encouraged" by the news.
Back in January I suggested The Ocean Cleanup move their devices closer to shore. I'm encouraged to see they are jo… https://t.co/Zfpoqf02fk— Open Ocean Exploration (@Open Ocean Exploration)1572116873.0
Slat said that 1,000 rivers dump around 80 percent of plastic that flows into the ocean, and he wanted to clean them all in the next five years. So far, the device is installed in rivers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. A fourth will soon be installed in the Dominican Republic.
Fast Company explained how it works:
The new technology is designed to anchor to a riverbed, out of the path of passing boats. Like the system that the nonprofit designed for the ocean, which uses a large barrier that blocks part of the river to collect plastic as it floats by, the Interceptor has a floating barrier that directs trash into the system. The device is positioned where the greatest amount of plastic flows, and another device can be placed in farther down the river to catch trash that might escape the first Interceptor. A conveyor belt pulls the trash out of the water, and an autonomous system distributes it into dumpsters on a separate barge, sending an alert to local operators when the system is full and ready to be taken to a recycler.
On an average day, it can collect 50,000 kilograms (approximately 110,000 pounds), for a yearly total of approximately 20,000 tons.
So far, users are happy with the results.
"It has been used for one and a half months in the river and it's doing very well, collecting the plastic bottles and all the rubbish," Izham Hashim from the government of Selangor state in Malaysia said at the launch, as The Associated Press reported.
Wired pointed out that the device wasn't exactly original. Baltimore's Mr. Trash Wheel, which intercepts 200 tons of trash a year, predates it.
The Interceptor can clearly collect more, and it is intended to be mass produced and used in rivers around the world, instead of being designed for one particular location, like Mr. Trash Wheel.
"The scientific community has been saying for years that moving upstream is the way to correctly solve this problem," Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore's Healthy Harbor campaign, told Wired. "And certainly imitation is the greatest form of flattery."
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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