Editor's note: This guest post comes from Gra Murdoch, whose site
'Pacific Solution' Proposed To Reclaim Ocean to Pristine Glory.
Thursday 9th July, Oceanic Survey Institute, Berkeley California – Scientists and Ecologists are proposing a radical solution to the 100 million tons of plastic waste circulating in what's known as the North Pacific Gyre.
“It's estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic, most no bigger than a penny, floating on every square mile of the North Pacific, which is devastating marine life,” says the Institute's head of research Sylvia Watson.
“We intend to deploy squadrons of Sweepers – otherwise known as Stand Up Paddlers – to clean this up, square meter by square meter...”
The controversial proposal comes on the back of the institute's annual blue-sky-ideas summit at the OCI, where left-field thinking is encouraged.
“It's refreshing to run unconventional concepts up the flagpole and not have them immediately torn down by economists, analysts and bureaucrats” says Dr. Ken Yager, who has been modeling the Pacific Solution concept in his backyard pool in Ventura County.
Dr Yager, himself an enthusiast of the conventional 'short' surfboard, says the idea came to him one morning as he arrived at his local break to find 'an army' of Stand Up Paddlers edging towards the surf zone.
“My first reaction was that these people belonged elsewhere – perhaps far out to sea where they could do no harm – so as not to blight the inshore seascape.
“It didn't take long to reconcile their inane – some say janitorial – paddling motion with the environmental crisis that's looming over the literal and metaphorical horizon.”
According to Dr Yager's scenario, up to 50,000 stand up paddlers would be dispatched from numerous motherships in two classic 'vee' formations, one sweeping west to east, the other east-west, and meeting mid-ocean in a classic pincer movement to create a 'small island' of plastic for removal.
Though critics of the plan are skeptical that 50,000 Stand Up Paddle-Sweeper volunteers could be found and mobilized, Dr Yager is confident of attaining volunteer numbers for the program, suggesting that Stand Up Paddlers would respond well if the request was framed in an appealing context.
“Basically, if you call for help with a vital environmental program they'd run a mile, but tell 'em it's a chance to join the 'Vanguard of A Waterman Eco-Warrior Collective' and they'll fall over themselves in the rush to sign up.
“As empty a catch-cry as it is laughable, the sheer word 'Waterman' is catnip for these people.”
The scientific community remains divided over phase two of Yager's Pacific Solution, which involves vaporizing both the collected rubbish and 50,000 sweepers with a single nuclear blast.
“Ah yes, the nuclear option, I was waiting for that line of inquiry,” chuckled Dr Yager. “But let's keep things in context – this was a blue-sky ideas summit where radical ideas were there to be heard.
“It's unlikely a mid-ocean thermonuclear blast would be accepted by the international community. And though an irradiated ocean might be a fair price to pay for the final eradication of such annoying and useless detritus, it would be a shame to lose all that potentially recyclable plastic.”
When asked about the fate of the 50,000 Stand Up Paddlers in such a scenario, Dr Yager smiled and repeated slowly “what part of 'annoying ... and ... useless ... detritus' don't you understand?"