Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eco Links For June, 2015

June has been an interesting month with some wonderful rain and not-too-hot temperatures, mostly. I thought I should try to revive this "Eco Links of the Month" idea I foolishly started a while back. Do suggest news or blog posts that you think I should cover here on Kurashi - 10 years of blogging, no less!

WNN: Plan sets out Japan's energy mix for 2030


A plan setting a share of 20% to 22% for nuclear power in Japan's energy mix by 2030 has been approved by a consultative committee. While scaling back fossil fuel use, the plan also calls for an expansion of renewable energy sources.
 
The long-term energy supply and demand outlook subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the draft report on 1 June.
 
The report, by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), says that total energy demand in Japan will increase from 940 TWh in 2013 to 980.8 TWh in 2030.
 
In 2013, LNG accounted for 43.2% of Japan's power generation, with 30.3% coming from coal and 14.9% from oil. Nuclear accounted for just 1.7%, with the remainder coming from renewable sources, according to figures from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF).

Friends of the Earth Japan and many other NGOs are strongly opposed to the continued reliance on nuclear power:






June 8, 2015
>PDF
While Japan’s Prime Minister Abe joins the meeting of the world top seven richest countries and presents his climate target at Schloss Elmau in Germany, his government continues financing large coal power plants in Japan and overseas and recklessly pursuing nuclear power claiming to be climate finance.

The government draft policy for climate change, unveiled formally on June 2 and will be finalized by the end of July, assumes more than a quarter of Japan’s electricity in 2030 coming from coal fired power, and one fifth from nuclear power despite Fukushima disaster and strong oppositions throughout the nation *1). PM Abe’s policy has also created a coal-power-frenzy as 43 plans have been announced so far *2) to build new coal fired power plants (some of them touted to power the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.) His government also pushes for exporting Japan’s “highly efficient and clean” coal and nuclear technologies - a main pillar of his economic recovery plan called “Three Arrows” - as climate friendly finance. (...)


As most of my readers here probably know, I work for Consumers Union of Japan, and we held the 42nd Annual Meeting on June 20, adopting 4 resolutions, including this one about nuclear energy:

2) We oppose the continued reliance on nuclear power


After the March 11, 2011 nuclear disaster at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, it became clear that relying on nuclear power is a dead end for society. In spite of this, the Abe Cabinet announced its new energy policy in April, 2015, stating that Japan should continue to rely on nuclear power, defining it as an “important base-load power source,” and sticking to its policy of promoting the nuclear fuel cycle. The government is already set to approve the restart of the Sendai and Takahama Nuclear Plants, and is making efforts to export nuclear power technology to other countries.


Meanwhile, in Fukushima Prefecture, some 120,000 people are still unable to return to their homes near the site of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. We note that it was a man-made disaster, and that the melted-down reactors still emit over 320 tons of radioactive water every day as they must be kept cool. Efforts to create a frozen wall around the complex failed. Also, workers on the site are being exposed to radiation in a perfunctory and careless way by the management. This is a clear human rights violation. In January, the government and TEPCO suggested that radioactive water should be disposed of into the ocean, something we cannot accept.


The Japanese archipelago with its active volcanos and many frequent earthquakes is particularly unsuitable for nuclear power. When accidents occur, radioactive substances will be released into the environment, with radioactive fallout including plutonium. Spent nuclear fuel also cannot be reprocessed without creating plutonium, and so far Japan has created 47 tons of this extremely dangerous radioactive material which can be used in nuclear weapons. The “deathly ash” (highly radioactive waste) has a half-life of 10,000 years. Also, mining for uranium is fraught with danger. All this points to a collusion of lies and cover-ups to make continued operation possible, as the basic truth is that radioactive substances can never coexist with living beings.


At the moment, not a single nuclear reactor is in operation in Japan. Even so, we basically have sufficient electricity. Higher costs for electricity seem to be the only reason to restart the currently idle nuclear power plants. We support independent efforts to save energy and reduce energy consumption for a peaceful livelihood for everyone, including for future generations. We look forward to a society that wisely relies on natural, renewable energy based on the “local production, local consumption” principle for all the people in the world, with zero reliance on nuclear power.

Do follow the ongoing commentary about Okinawa over at Ten Thousand Things:

70th anniversary of the official (not actual) end of the US-Japan Battle of Okinawa

Greenpeace Japan: 「2015辺野古:それぞれの思い」People’s voices from Henoko, Okinawa, 2015 戦後70年沖縄県民大会前日 @沖縄・名護市辺野古

Greenpeace: Okinawa, Henoko Bay, Save the Dugongs 2015

The Sense of Sacred: Mauna Kea, Hawai'i and Oura Bay, Okinawa

 

This interview is from China Dialogue, a blog with news in both English and Chinese about the environmental crisis in China, and what is being done to combat it:

Peng Gong: The health impacts of the use of coal and transport fuels have been well documented, although perhaps more so in prosperous cities than the poorer, mainly rural hinterlands where many coal-fired power stations and mines are built. The consequences of fossil fuel use on the climate will mean increasing extremes in weather, which will mainly be felt in poor rural areas. China’s leadership is fully aware of the health aspects and comments from the country’s top meteorologist earlier this year warned of serious impacts on natural resources. Climate change could mean that scarce water supplies dwindle more rapidly, while searing heat and increased likelihood of floods will impact crop yields and the productivity of rural workers. Climate change could also speed up the huge wave of rural migration to cities, many of which are increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Although it should be said, in the event of a warmer world, rural China  with its own risks of flooding and is less equipped to deal with extremes of temperatures  may be more a dangerous place to be than urban areas. (...)        

Speaking of China, did you know they put plans for new nuclear plants on hold after the Fukushima disaster in 2011? Now, it seems they are about to change their collective minds again. But one critic, who is 88 years old, thinks differently:

The Guardian: China warned over 'insane' plans for new nuclear power plant

He Zuoxiu, a leading Chinese scientist, says the country is not investing enough in safety controls after lifting of post-Fukushima disaster reactor ban

China’s plans for a rapid expansion of nuclear power plants are “insane” because the country is not investing enough in safety controls, a leading Chinese scientist has warned.
Proposals to build plants inland, as China ends a moratorium on new generators imposed after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, are particularly risky, the physicist He Zuoxiu said, because if there was an accident it could contaminate rivers that hundreds of millions of people rely on for water and taint groundwater supplies to vast swathes of important farmlands. China halted the approval of new reactors in 2011 in order to review its safety standards, but gave the go-ahead in March for two units, part of an attempt to surpass Japan’s nuclear-generating capacity by 2020 and become the world’s biggest user of nuclear power a decade later. (...)

(Image of proposed Chinese nuclear power plants as of 2008, from World Nuclear Association. June 26, 2015 - a more realistic view from IAEA here)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Drought...


The very word "drought" should be a clarion call for change - we cannot live on this planet and just rely on minerals and fossil fuels - we need water more than anything else.

Japan has plenty of rains - this time of year we have the tsuyu, rainy season - and it comes with abundant wonderful storms, and the rice paddies do well, and my veggies are (mostly) happy.

Not so great in North Korea, or parts of Australia, or California...

What about California?

From Earth Justice:

The historic drought has dredged up old feuds over who can lay claim to water in a thirsty state. As the powerful lobby for the agricultural industry—which currently consumes 80% of California's water supply—cries for more water to be pumped to their farms in the arid regions of the Central Valley, just who would be left high and dry? (And don't miss the latest drought news at the Thirsty Thursdays blog series.)

Wow. 

California's Drought


Homes with boathouses built around an artificial lake are seen in Indio, California, April 13, 2015.
California's cities and towns would be required to cut their water usage by up to 35 percent or face steep fines under proposed new rules, the state's first-ever mandatory cutbacks in urban water use as the state enters its fourth year of severe drought.

http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/californias-drought/

http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/californias-drought/2/

  • California's Drought

    California is entering the fourth year of a record-breaking drought creating an extremely parched landscape. Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January 2015 and imposed strict conservation measures statewide.
    In this photo, a tractor collects golf balls on a driving range in the Palm Springs area, California, April 13, 2015.
    The average daily water usage per person in Palm Springs is 201 gallons, more than double California average. Communities where residential customers use more than 165 gallons of water per person per day would have to cut back by 35 percent.


If that doesn't open, do the search... 59 images.

And there is the official data, too:

U.S. Drought Monitor

So, how bad is it really?

http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2015/04/30/california-a-state-of-survival/

droughts

In this five-part series by CBS13’s Nick Janes, he explores a few of the many severe changes happening in California as a result of the years-long drought.
Part 1: A Sinking Feeling In The San Joaquin Valley
A problem caused by the drought is literally causing thousands of square miles of land to sink, and it will affect all of us permanently. This problem is happening out of sight, but hardly out of mind.
Read the full story
Part 2: People Without Water In Tulare County
There are plenty of us worried about us saving our lawns in this drought. But for hundreds of Californians, the situation is much more dire. They have no water at all. We track a little farther south of Merced to Tulare County, where we find the hardest-hit area in the entire state.
Read the full story
Part 3: Farmers Coming Up Dry In Costly Search For Water
Drilling for water, farmers are racing to find ways to save their crops in the face of severe water-delivery cutbacks. Some farmers say this is the toughest challenge of their lives. In Butte County, we meet a farmer whose family has been in the business since the 1800s. He says he is doing every thing he can to save every last drop of water — and in the process, save his family farm.
Read the full story
Part 4: Bay Area Company Pulls Water From Thin Air
It’s drought-busting technology that sounds so futuristic, it’s right out of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle in “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope” ran a moisture farm where they would draw moisture from the arid climate of Tatooine with moisture vaporators. Nearly 40 years after that movie was released, a Bay Area company is making something similar called atmospheric water generators.
Read the full story
Part 5: Lessons Learned From The Land Down Under
High above the suffering Sierra snowpack, Rich DeHaven captured an eye-opening perspective in California’s drought. Where snow that makes up one-third of California’s water should be just isn’t there. Karelene Maywald, the chair of the Australia National Water Commission, spoke to CBS13 about the devastating millennium drought. California’s four-year drought looks small compared to Australia’s, which stretched from 1995 to 2012.
Read the full story


And Australia?

Again, official data:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/drought.shtml

Updated on 3 June 2015

Victorian situation worsens

May rainfall was below average for most of northern Australia except the Top End, the south of Western Australia, southern New South Wales and parts of northern and eastern Victoria, as well as an area of South Australia around and inland of Ceduna and other smaller pockets. Rainfall was above average roughly following the path of a northwest cloudband extending from the Pilbara into the interior and northern South Australia, where moderate falls brought some relief of deficiencies. Northwestern New South Wales, much of Tasmania, a region of the east coast in northern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland, and the Top End also received above-average rainfall.
Monthly rainfall over the southeast of South Australia through western Victoria, and across western Tasmania has been below average from August last year (apart from well-above-average January rainfall, and above-average March and May rainfall in Tasmania). Serious or severe rainfall deficiencies have been observed in parts of these regions for various medium-term periods since late 2013. Longer-term deficiencies are also evident for various periods under 2 years duration in much of this region, and deficiencies are also evident over large areas of eastern Australia for periods of about 3 years duration. 

11-month rainfall deficiencies

Above-average rainfall during May has alleviated deficiencies in northern parts of South Australia and along the west coast of Tasmania, although local deficiencies remain. Below-average May rainfall for an area of northern to central Victoria has seen deficiencies expand in this region, compared to the 10-month period in the previous Drought Statement. The spatial extent and severity of rainfall deficiencies has also increased slightly in central Queensland, whilst severe or serious deficiencies (lowest 5% or lowest 10% of records) persist with little change in coastal South Australia covering the central West Coast District of South Australia and the York and Fleurieu peninsulas, a region spanning southeastern South Australia and much of western to central Victoria, and areas of northern Queensland near Townsville, the central to western Cape York Peninsula, and along the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.


But that's just another sunny place that can engage in trade and import food from all over...

Not everyone is so lucky.

North Korea says it has been hit by worst drought in 100 years

AP







North Korea says it has been hit by its worst drought in a century, resulting in extensive damage to agriculture.
The official Korean Central News Agency said the drought has caused about 30 percent of its rice paddies to dry up. Rice plants normally need to be partially submerged in water during the early summer.
“Water level of reservoirs stands at the lowest, while rivers and streams (are) getting dry,” it said in a report Tuesday, adding that the drought was the country’s worst in 100 years.
An official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry, who asked not to be identified because of office rules, said precipitation in North Korea was abnormally low in May. Its production of rice and potatoes could decline by as much as 20 percent compared to average years if the shortage of rainfall extends to early July, he said.
ADVERTISING
KCNA said other crops were being planted in paddy fields in an attempt to reduce the agricultural shortfall.
North Korea suffered a devastating famine during the 1990s that is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people. The famine is also believed to have loosened the communist state’s control over the economy by damaging its public food distribution system and paving the way for private economic activity in unofficial markets.


I know I have readers from all kinds of countries and languages - do you have a word for "drought" - as in Swedish there is no such concept.

Japanese, however, has a lot of expressions:

"Drought" Japanese translation

Results: 1-26 of 26

drought {noun}

drought {noun} (also: water shortage)
渇水 [かっすい] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: dry weather)
日照り [ひでり] {noun}
drought {noun}
干ばつ [かんばつ] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: water shortage)
水飢饉 [みずききん] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: famine, shortage, crop failure)
饑饉 [ききん] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: poorness, famine, want, shortage)
欠乏 [けつぼう] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: long spell of dry weather)
旱魃 [かんばつ] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: famine)
飢きん [ききん] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: dry weather)
旱天 [かんてん] {noun}
welcome rain in a drought


旱天慈雨
drought {noun} (also: crop failure, shortage, famine)
飢饉 [ききん] {noun}
drought {noun} (also: lack of rainfall)
無降水 [むこうすい] {noun}

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kurashi Review: Children Of The Tsunami By Patrick Sherriff

It's not journalism, not fiction, and certainly not your usual travel book. Patrick Sherriff has written an acute account of his recent trip to the coastal areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Add watercolours and you have a great little book that helped me remember that there is still a world up there, a couple of hours north of the comfort zone that is Tokyo, that hasn't recovered, but the people are doing their very best to cope.

Children of the Tsunami is an e-book, easy to order for $0.99 or an oversize paperback at $6.99 from all Amazon sites including here at Amazon.comAmazon.co.jp and Amazon.co.uk, or get the paperback directly from CreateSpace. You can also sign up for Patrick's mailinglist (details below).

Background - Patrick drove up in 2011 with emergency supplies, like many of us did, trying to help wherever we had contacts or the need was the greatest. Now, he went back on a more leisurely trip, with wife and two daughters, to reconnect with some of those people. Some are gone, some going (young people getting jobs or scholarships to universities elsewhere).  Children of the Tsunami is not adding a lot of emotional baggage, no dwelling on the pain. Casually, with a lot of respect, Patrick notes how husbands who lost their wives carry on, and others make do with the housing provided, or wondering how their old towns may one day emerge, again. If this is prose, it is almost poetry, at least if you have been up there. His style kind of reminds me of the rocks out there in the Pacific... Again, the watercolours help me remember how amazingly beautiful the Tohoku coastline is. And why some people elect to stay.

Much recommended, Kurashi readers (some of you who helped by donating to my own 2011 trips - again, thanks).

I asked Patrick Sherriff a couple of questions, and here is the conversation:

Q1: In my case, nothing prepared me for the devastation. You mention WW2 and for most of us, that may be the only real sense of the scale of destruction. Could you say a little bit more about that first trip you did?

Patrick: Yes, it was quite shocking, wasn't it? I think it was the contrast between the comfort levels of us here in the Tokyo area compared to the destruction all around the coasts of Iwate and Miyagi was perhaps the most jarring. But at the same time what is in front of you seems unreal; everything has been interpreted for you ahead of time by endless TV coverage, so when you actually meet ordinary people they have achieved mythic status as plucky, stoic "survivors". It takes a while to realise that they are normal and ordinary, as are we all, just having to deal with more shit than most of us ever have to.

Q2: I heard a Japanese lady in Miyagi prefecture say, in a very philosophical way, “We took a lot from the ocean over the years, fishing and the like, and of course the ocean took a lot from us…” Did you get any sense of that? Do you think the high school kids that you describe in the book have gotten any support, in the psychological, clinical sense? Is there any therapy available? Or is everyone just left to their own devices?

Patrick: I've heard anecdotally of support, my wife knows a counsellor who has devoted her free time to offering support to survivors, but I'm not in a position to say how widespread that help might be. I don't think any of the teenagers I met received formal psychological help, but I didn't ask. Some received generous scholarships based on their status as survivors. Philosophically, it's hard to generalize on how people cope with disaster. One thing I was surprised about was two teens talking about wanting to go surfing. I'd have thought the sea would have been ruined forever as a source of joy, but for them, evidently not.

Q3: Your book is more about the tsunami than the nuclear disaster. Fukushima gets a lot of attention, meanwhile, the entire coastal area is mostly ignored (except maybe by NHK). Do people talk about that? 4 years later, is there any sense that the tsunami is the “forgotten” crisis?

Patrick: I did detect a little bitterness from one chap I met over the attention and money that the Tokyo Olympics is attracting compared to reconstruction of Kesennuma. I don't think any of the survivors I met begrudge the attention Fukushima has garnered, but I didn't ask that specifically.

Q4: Any thoughts about e-publishing and the merits/demerits? How could the web get better at helping authors publish? What do you think is the future of this way of getting independent voices heard (and seen) and - any cautionary tales?

Patrick: I'm a bit of a ideologue when it comes to e-publishing and self-publishing (they are related but different animals). In a nutshell, there are no gatekeepers in publishing anymore. If you want to publish a book, you can, on almost your own terms. E-books democratize the process by removing the cost barrier and distribution problem. I recommend Let's Get Digital by David Guaghran if anyone want to know the basics of e-publishing. The difficulty is getting your book noticed, but that is true of traditionally published work too. The bottom line is that there has never been a better time to be a writer. You have a story to tell? Tell it. Nobody is stopping you but yourself. As far as cautionary tales go, get yourself an email subscription list, it's slow-growing but the best way to forge an independent link with readers. Mine is here: www.patricksherriff.com/newsletter

Q5: Anything else you wish you had mentioned in the book? Anything you left out, last minute? Anything your wife told you to leave out…?

Patrick: I said an awful lot that I ended up cutting out because it was my own opinionated bullshit, the classic too much "tell", not enough "show", that fiction writers are always warned about. I'm happy with the final product. It is an accurate version of what I know and want to say. And I've received a fair bit of praise for my ink and watercolour sketches which I was on two minds about including. My wife said she liked the book, so I chalk it up as a success. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

US Congress Sinks Fast Track, TPP

It could still rear its ugly head but for now, US Congress voted down a package of bills that would have given the White House "Fast Track" authority. Without it, there is no way other countries will engage in serious negotiations with the US about trade. I watched the debate live and followed the live blogging, it was a great show. Having followed the TPP discussions closely, including Wikileaks and heard arguments for and against, it feels like a relief - for now.

Japan and other countries need to have much more discussion about these massive trade negotiations and think hard about the impact on people's lives. But for now, the American "Asian Pivot" has largely failed. Not much is expected to happen during the rest of President Obama's term, and it will take time before another president can regain the momentum. Which is a good thing, as far as I am concerned!

Politico:  http://www.politico.eu/article/house-casts-gloom-over-obama-trade-agenda/

House casts gloom over Obama trade agenda

June 12, 2015

A black cloud hangs over President Barack Obama’s trade agenda following the House’s failure on Friday to approve a “fast-track” trade bill needed to conclude a massive Asia-Pacific trade agreement and a raft of other trade deals.

Unless Obama and House Republicans can quickly recover from the setback, it could squelch chances of reaching any new trade agreements “for the rest of this administration and possibly for at least a good part of the next administration,” said Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The House actually went on record with a 219-211 vote in favor of the trade promotion authority bill, with 28 Democrats joining 191 Republicans in support. But the vote was symbolic because members overwhelmingly rejected a related move to renew the trade adjustment assistance program to help workers who have lost their jobs because of trade competition. Republican leaders structured the votes in a way that both measures had to be approved to advance the combined legislation.

U.S. union groups made the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership pact with Japan, Vietnam and nine other countries in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region public enemy No. 1 in their effort to defeat the fast-track trade bill. But today’s action also endangers trade talks with Europe, negotiations aimed at eliminating tariffs on environmentally friendly goods and promising recent efforts to revive long-stalled world trade talks.
(...)

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/president-obama-is-all-in-on-trade-sees-it-as-a-cornerstone-of-his-legacy/2015/06/12/32b6dce8-1073-11e5-a0dc-2b6f404ff5cf_story.html

Obama-backed trade bill fails in the House

June 12, 2015

President Obama suffered a major defeat to his Pacific Rim free trade initiative Friday as House Democrats helped derail a key presidential priority despite his last-minute, personal plea on Capitol Hill.

The House voted 302 to 126 to sink a measure to grant financial aid to displaced workers, fracturing hopes at the White House that Congress would grant Obama fast-track trade authority to complete an accord with 11 other Pacific Rim nations.

“I will be voting to slow down fast-track,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the floor moments before the vote, after keeping her intentions private for months. “Today we have an opportunity to slow down. Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for American workers.”

The dramatic defeat could sink the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping free trade and regulatory pact that Obama has called central to his economic agenda at home and his foreign policy strategy in Asia. Obama’s loss came after a months-long lobbying blitz in which the president invested significant personal credibility and political capital.

Republican leaders, who had backed the president’s trade initiative, pleaded with their colleagues to support the deal or risk watching the United States lose economic ground in Asia.

“The world is watching us right now,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said before the vote.
(...)


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Yume to Kyôki no Ôkoku)

If you like anime and wish to know more about the hardships and creative trouble that go into making epic films, do enjoy this documentary about the Ghibli Studio. Anyone been the the museum? I like how anti-nuclear he is, and of course, anti-war. So,, what is Miya-san a proponent of...?


Monday, June 08, 2015

The Ocean Cleanup

Have you heard of the plastic garbage in the oceans? Well, 20 year old Boyan Slat is trying to do something about it, and he is getting support to do it in Japan.

May 20, 2015 he and his crew started a project near Tsushima Island, to try to capture some of the crap left by humans in our seas. If this works out, the plan is to scale it up.

The ocean currents, passing the island towards the deposits around 30,000 m3 of trash onto its shores every year. Currently, this garbage is manually collected, costing about US$5 million each year. The coastal pilot will be catching trash before it reaches the shoreline, potentially saving cost.

This, combined with the suitable wave/current conditions and the local hospitality, makes Tsushima the perfect testing location.

This will get interesting. Tsushima is part of Nagasaki, Kyushu and a major tourist destination. Go out on the beaches and you can't avoid seeing the plastic crap washed ashore.

Very embarrassing then, if that plastic garbage has Japanese or Korean or Chinese or other origins? Well, that is not the point. Crap is crap. Why does it end up in our wonderful oceans? Most of us try to take care of our garbage... right?



Recycle, Reduce, - Refuse to use stuff that may end up in your kitchen sink, then into rivers, and finally into oceans.

On May 20, The Ocean Cleanup and the city government of Tsushima (a Japanese island which lies between Japan and Korea) jointly agreed to conduct research to bring the world’s first ocean cleanup array to Tsushima Island.


The system will span 2000 meters, thereby becoming the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean (beating the current record of 1000 m held by the Tokyo Mega-Float). It will be operational for at least two years, catching plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of the proposed deployment location of Tsushima island.

Tsushima island is evaluating whether the plastic can be used as an alternative energy source.

The scale of the plastic pollution problem, whereby in the case of Tsushima island, approximately one cubic meter of pollution per person is washed up each year, has led the Japanese the local government to seek innovative solutions to the problem.

Will it be possible to use this simple idea?

Boyan Slat, founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup: 

When you want to clean the oceans, it is important to know how much plastic is out there. Right now, estimates vary orders of magnitude, due to the small amount of measurements, which furthermore have been taken over very long period. The Mega Expedition will allow us to produce the first-ever high- resolution estimate of the amount of plastic inside the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and we are grateful for the Mayor’s and Transpac’s support. This enables us to continue preparing the passive cleanup technology for our first ocean pilot, taking place in the first half of 2016.

About 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year (Jambeck et al., 2015). Part of this accumulates in 5 areas where currents converge: the gyres. At least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the oceans (Eriksen et al., 2014), a third of which is concentrated in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Cózar et al., 2014).

Friday, June 05, 2015