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@TaishoSanShoku This response isn't valid.  Though Boyan attempted to address these concerns in his feasibility study, he didn't-- that's what the Scripps folks point out precisely. It's not fair to criticize Nick's assessment here, as he has looked at the data and is basing his judgements on that data-- and let's remember, Boyan is a student, not a scientist. Not an engineer.  But for starters, 'feasible' is a poor choice of words for this--  creative modeling is no substitute for hard science. But to address your points exactly--

1.) Mooring-- The Ocean Cleanup feasibility shows that it's possible to throw a 4.000 meter rope down to ocean floor- nothing more. It does not address the stress that would be on the device in real sea conditions, nor how that load would be affected if currents reverse (which they do, often), or how a series of anchors would affect things like whales and the possibility of whale entanglement (other than to gesture to it and dismiss it-- and btw, you don't need nets to entangle an animal).  

2.) RE: plankton-- Boyan doesn't even look at the species of animals that are indigenous to the region he is talking about citing this thing in-- The North Pacific. Is that a grave oversight? Yes. Is it really bad science? Yes. What he doesn't understand is stuff like Velella Velella (our By The Sea Sailors) a species of jellyfish that his machine would better at capturing than plastic-- the biomass he caught would quickly (very quickly) outweigh the plastic he caught by a huge factor. 

3.) RE: the water column-- Boyan fundamentally does not understand the mixed layer. For one, he created a device to sample down to about 3 meters that moves through the ocean as a solid mass-- which causes a wake at the front that corrupts the data he gathers. But more egregiously, how can one conclude that the majority of plastic is in the top three meters when the only place you're sampling is the top three meters.  That's circular logic-- and until this device and methodology passes through peer review, it's irresponsible to make any claims as to what he found in the top three meters. 

Nick is a good scientist, and he's also a good thinker.  In his tenure at OC, he has broadened the OC's dialogue beyond cleanup to source reduction and now, the OC is taking a stand to that end. It's a highly political and difficult move to make, but the culture there is changing, and the ocean is better for it.  What's very troubling about Boyan's study is that he presents it as fact and no third party (which happens in the peer review process) has critically vetted it-- it can't go through peer review because it's way too long, and he defends it as not being able to go through peer review because it's too long.

What Boyan has done is set his project up to be 'un-criticizable' simply by dismissing the people who don't agree with his assessment of his own data.  And one thing he also hasn't thought of-- there may be no jurisdiction to stop him from putting this thing in the ocean, which also means that there is no jurisdiction to stop people who feel it will do way more harm than good from blocking him from putting it in the ocean. I guarantee, when the Ocean Cleanup leaves shore to go build their thing in the ocean, there will be ten boats chasing them to stop it. No responsible activist or scientist would put out 700 kilometers of boom and anchor it to the ocean floor based this 'feasibility study'.  

2 weeks, 3 days ago on A One-Size-Fits-All Solution for the Ocean?


Thanks for this Nick. I was really displeased with this article as it made the social media rounds.  I've done 20,000 nautical and have seen a Sperm Whale breach, had 1,000s of dolphins surf the boat, A minke whale, a humpback, a pod of Blue Whales, squid, petrels, tuna, dorado, jacks, albatross, rainbow runners, myctophids, turtles, etc...   Sure, the baseline has shifted from threats to the ocean but Ivan's article isn't helpful---  it basically makes people retreat into even more isolated existences;  they give up on community and environment and focus on insulating the family unit from the horrors of the world.  The ocean isn't broken, humanity is-- and the threats we perceive aren't actually a threat to the ocean---they are threats to our own well being as humans, indeed, perhaps even our very existence.  Humans may kill themselves off by continuing this path of unlimited growth from finite resources, but the ocean will rebound and forget we ever walked the earth.  The meme of pieces like this need to focus on things that can save us and the work being done towards that end--  plastics policy, MPA's, etc..   


The goal is to work in harmony with the big blue before we kill ourselves not portray 70% of our world as broken.  The thinking towards it is what's broken.  



Dinosaur Jr.  

10 months ago on Hope Over Fear: Ocean Is Bruised and Battered, But Not Broken