The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Swimmer Plans to Cross Pacific to Highlight Plastic Pollution
Ben Lecomte, the first man to swim across the Atlantic in 1998, will attempt another grueling, history-making ocean crossing.
On Tuesday, the 50-year-old Frenchman and his crew will set out from Tokyo for a 5,500-mile swim across the Pacific, Reuters reported. If all goes as planned, Lecomte will arrive in San Francisco six to eight months later.
The purpose of "The Swim" is not just to break a record. "The mission of my historic swim is to bring to light the current state of our oceans," Lecomte said in a statement, adding that the research he and his team collect "will ultimately help us better protect our oceans."
According to a press release, Lecomte and the crew are collaborating with 27 scientific institutions, including NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Along the trans-Pacific journey, the team will collect more than 1,000 samples to help understand the ocean's state, from mammal migrations to plastic pollution. The route will cut through the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive trash vortex floating off the coast of California.
"I remember my father and he was the one who taught me how to swim in the Atlantic. I remember times when we would go on the beach and walk and never see any plastic. Now, everywhere I go, on the beach I see plastic everywhere," Lecomte told Reuters.
"If we are all aware of it then after it is much easier to take action and to change our behavior because the solution is in our hands. We know what we have to do."
Among other endeavors, the team will also collect data on the spread and concentration of radioactive seepage from Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. The effort will also help medical researchers gain insight about endurance, the human body in extreme conditions, as well as the effect of low gravity on bones and vision.
Lecomte spent the last four years training for the event. Once in the waters, he will kick and paddle for eight hours a day, covering about 30 miles and burning though 8,000 calories. For the rest of the day, the swimmer will recover and refuel on a sailboat with his support team. Doctors and other specialists on land will monitor his physical condition and provide any required support.
Lecomte partnered with science publisher Seeker.com and Discovery to bring the expedition and its scientific findings to viewers around the world. The journey will be captured in multiple platforms, including live video from the boat, Instagram stories and weekly swim updates. The effort will culminate with a feature-length documentary in 2019.
"Not only are we documenting history, but we will be creating never-before-seen content in real-time from deep in the Pacific. Additionally, Seeker will shed light on key marine conservation issues, with the goal of driving viewers to take action to reverse the negative impact that humans have had on our oceans."
Lecomte's 1998 swim from Cape Cod to France measured 3,700 miles over 73 days. After his incredible feat, he told Oprah Winfrey on her talk show: "When I arrived after swimming the Atlantic, my first words were, 'Never again.' Then a few months after, I said, 'No, I need to go back.' It's something that I need. It's within me. I need to find another challenge and to push myself."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."