A massive plastic cleanup project provokes hope and skepticism


(PBS News Hour)

In 2015, marine biologist Andrew Thaler raised concerns that the huge booms could attract or harm ocean-going animals. Earlier this year, shark researcher David Shiffman polled some fellow scientists about their concerns, and found that few believed the cleanup would solve more problems than it would cause.

When oceanographers Kim Martini and Miriam Goldstein reviewed a previous version of the system in 2014, they criticized the design’s resilience against ocean forces. Martini and Goldstein claimed the system carried a potential for failure in the storms that frequently roil the Pacific Ocean.

Others said that regardless of the system’s ability to safely collect trash from the ocean’s surface, it misses the real problems behind oceanic plastic.

Studies estimate that 60 to 70 percent of ocean plastic eventually sinks to the seafloor, far from a floating collection boom. Plastic trash has even been found in the Marianas Trench, the most remote and deepest part of the Pacific Ocean.

Let’s get rid of plastic. Global Ban. I’m serious.