Plastic pollution in oceans can't be solved with a gadget




But we can still use magnets to clear up space debris, right?


Until we get some level of nano tech going I don’t see an easy solution to it. Perhaps something biological, but then again the ocean varies so widely in temperature that’d be about impossible.


I thought it was lasers, but if you want to use magnets that’s okay too.

Magnets with big honkin’ lasers


The solution is obvious; sharks with frickin’ plastic-destroying-lasers on their heads…


Seems anything that can filter out tiny bits of plastic is also going to filter out tiny organisms - taking out the bottom of the food chain, like chopping off a trees roots.


It’s terribly sad that the answer to this problem is the same as the answer to climate change, and therefore equally unlikely: stop doing the harmful stuff. People love to think that they can keep on living the same way, the rentier class can keep getting richer off of it, and someone else will come up with the fancy way to clean it up–don’t bother me with the details. The necessary solutions are in fact so simple, conceptually, yet so enormously insurmountable for reasons of social and political inertia and entrenched interests. The gyres spit out half their contents on every orbit–gyre debris eventually becomes beach debris. So, stop chucking plastic into the sea, clean up the beaches, and in a generation the problem will mostly have gone away. But it won’t happen, so: to the people of the future post-apocalyptic wasteland reading this from an archived copy of the early 21st-c internet: I’m sorry we fucked everything up and probably bringing my own carrier bags to the grocery store was not enough :frowning:


I’d use space hobos. They’re really good at collecting cans and bottles on earth.


It’s the same feeling I got reading about some Boy scout’s Eagle project- cleaning up a single instance of lumber company’s mess. Instead of holding them accountable, he just brought in a ton of volunteer resources and fixed that one instance, while the lumber company is free to keep doing it again and again.

Unless their techno-schemes include stop putting more plastic in the ocean, these plans focus attention away from where the actual damage is occurring. And making the job infinitely more difficult, than to stop the litter.


You didn’t like the shark + laser plan then, eh?


Nano plastic disassemblers. I love it. I always wanted our Great Filter event to be Grey Goo.


I fail to grasp why it is XOR, to me it’s obvious that it is OR.


  • we have something that cleans up the mess.
  • we stop making a mess.

or you know, we can do both.

Even the kid says so during his ted talk:


His point here seems to be that the ocean is so big it’s unreasonable to assume we could clean it all ('make 20 million doohickeys) but surely years of advocacy about this issue should show him that it’s equally unreasonable, and I think more improbable, to expect everyone in the world to stop using plastic in the way we have been. Look at climate change as an example, a much more important problem, a clear solution and absolutely fuck all done about it. And that’s not likely to change. I think we have to accept that a solution to this is both unlikely and, if it happens, likely to need both ocean cleaning and change in how we use plastics.


Instead of disassemblers, perhaps they can be assemblers and create manageable hunks of plastic.


Go forth, my minions, and leave not one monomer upon another!


I love that idea! Creates jobs, closes the shark gap and the laser gap with the russkies, and shows the world we’re not afraid to pour money into innovative ideas, no matter how silly they might seem at first glance. It’s just that these shark/laser hybrids shouldn’t contain any plastic, because that’ll look bad in the press release, if we’re using plastic to fight plastic. The plastics industry might not like that, but the aluminium industry will be more than happy to take up the slack. let it not be said that I would get in the way of progress!


Maggie- when you say there are solutions to the problem, what are you referring to? The only solution I can see (or have found) is to stop using / buying / manufacturing plastic. Which I’m all for, but of course will create so many other logistical adjustment issues that no one wants to do it. Is there another solution to trumpet, even if it’s slow and unsexy?


Doug Coupland proposed nuking the Pacific Trash Vortex in Worst. Person. Ever.


At the end of the article, the author also points out that cleaning beaches is an important step that we can take (and a much simpler one, logistically, than cleaning oceans). Basically, as he explains it, you’re letting the currents bring the plastic to you on land.


Slat’s response: