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Heroes

The longest floating structure in history is about to hit the ocean to fix a big problem.

The design might seem simple, but it's definitely not.

In 2016, "the longest floating structure in world history" will be placed in the ocean.

Don't worry — it's not another super yacht or party barge or some other contraption that will further pollute the ocean.

Nope, this is a good thing.


It's called The Ocean Cleanup, and it's a 1.2-mile-long system designed to collect and remove plastic from the ocean.

For two years, it will hang out in the ocean, hopefully to begin undoing what we've done for decades: polluted the heck out of the water with plastic trash.

Image by The Ocean Cleanup.

It's basically a stationary array of barriers that uses the ocean's natural currents to collect the plastic at a central location.

When I first wrote about The Ocean Cleanup a year ago, I thought it was something that moved through the ocean, collecting trash as it went. But that's not how it works at all.

Image by The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup stays right where it's launched.

Here's how it works:

"Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Instead of going after the plastic using boats and nets, The Ocean Cleanup will use long floating barriers, using the natural movement of the ocean currents to passively concentrate the plastic itself. "

"Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all (neutrally buoyant) sea life, preventing by-catch, while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier."

"The scalable array of floating barriers, attached to the seabed, is designed for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers without moving a centimeter."

Images and captions by The Ocean Cleanup.

The plan is to deploy The Ocean Cleanup near Tsushima, an island between Japan and South Korea, and let it do its thing for two years. Then the next step is to use all the plastic junk it collects as an alternate energy source.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone. (Although, this is quite the opposite of killing birds, so ... bad metaphor).

Unfortunately, the ocean is suuuper polluted.

A lot of that pollution is plastic trash — 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every single year.

Right now, about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are floating around the ocean.


Image by The Ocean Cleanup.

And pollution, as we know, causes many environmental, economic, and health problems. For example, plastic kills over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year. (That's awful.)

The animals it doesn't kill are often left deformed, as was the case with Peanut the turtle, whose shell was warped after she got stuck in a six-pack plastic ring. The same thing happened to this poor guy too.

Plastic pollution is expensive! Plastic in the oceans costs companies across the world over $13 billion a year and the U.S. government hundreds of millions in coastal cleanup efforts. Wouldn't it be great if we could spend that $13 billion elsewhere?

Removing plastic trash from the ocean has been a huge struggle. But that's about to change.

So far, attempts to clear plastic waste from the ocean have involved ships and nets and just haven't worked. According to The Ocean Cleanup, solutions that move through the ocean to remove trash tend to be ineffective and also cause more damage:

"Using vessels and nets to collect the plastic from one garbage patch would take about 79,000 years and tens of billions of dollars. Besides, such an operation would cause significant harm to sea life and generate huge amounts of CO2 and other emissions."

That's what makes The Ocean Cleanup so cool. All studies show it's going to work, it's cost effective, and it doesn't kill sea life.

In fact, they are estimating that The Ocean Cleanup could remove half the plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 10 years, costing 33 times less money and happening 7,900 times faster than the old vessel and net method.

This first deployment near Tsushima will give them an opportunity to test out exactly how much trash can be removed, and how quickly, in reality.

Oh, and the guy who created this? He was a teenager when he got started on it.

Image by The Ocean Cleanup.

Boyan Slat is the genius behind The Ocean Cleanup. He's into his 20s now, so he's getting pretttty old. (Next time someone complains about "kids these days," share this story with them.)

He was on a diving trip in Greece in 2011 — you know, when he was around 16 — and was astounded by the amount of plastic he came across, wondering why nobody had cleaned it up.

Instead of waiting for someone to fix it, Slat came up with an idea himself, which he presented in 2012. In 2013, he began leading an international team of 100 engineers and scientists, and in 2014, they raised $2.2 million in crowdfunding.

And here we are today!

This year, we're going to learn exactly how quickly our oceans can be cleaned up.

A year ago, it was still in development. Now, it's happening. Imagine if it all goes according to plan! We could have cleaner oceans, healthier wildlife, and save money.

It's so great to see The Ocean Cleanup in action because pretty soon this ugliness that fills our oceans...

Image by The Ocean Cleanup.

...will be replaced by this thing of beauty!

Image by The Ocean Cleanup.

Of course, plastics aren't the only oil-based threat to the ocean. There's also, you know, literal oil.

Most plastics are made from petroleum taken from the core of the Earth. And while petroleum certainly makes a mess in its processed form, it's easier to separate solid plastics from water than raw, liquid petroleum.

This is especially true when that dangerous liquid is spewing from the Earth at uncontrollable rates, as tends to happen when we start drilling underwater.

If you want to help protect the oceans from more damage by fossil fuels, you can start by signing this petition to support America's Clean Power Plan — because there's no giant Ocean Cleanup rig that can clean the oil that will spill into our oceans.

Joy

Sorry, Labradors. After 31 years, America has a new favorite dog.

The American Kennel Club has crowned a new favorite.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.

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@morgvn.elizabeth/TikTok

Hip-hop Irish dancing is kind of the coolest thing ever.

If you somehow missed Irish dance extraordinaire and viral sensation Morgan Bullock, you’re in for a treat.

Back in 2020, the then 20-year-old performer posted a video of her jigging to a remixed version of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” also featuring the vocals of Beyoncé. As the internet is wont to fawn over unexpected mashups, it’s no wonder that the clip sent folks into a frenzy online.

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Joy

An 8-year-old snuck his handwritten book onto a library shelf. Now it has a 56-person waiting list.

Dillon Helbig's 81-page graphic novel— written by "Dillon His Self"—captured the hearts of his local librarians and their patrons.

Dillon Helbig's 81-page graphic novel captured the hearts of his local librarians.

Writing a book is no easy task, even for adult professional writers. Many would-be authors dream of a day when their work can be found on library shelves, unsure if it will ever come.

But for 8-year-old Dillon Helbig, that day has already arrived—in truly unconventional fashion—thanks to his own determination to make it happen.

Dillon wrote his 81-page graphic novel, "The Adventures of Dillon Helbig's Crismis" (written by "Dillon His Self") in a hardcover journal with colored pencils over the course of a few days. He even put a label on the back of the book that reads "Made in Idho" [sic] and put an illustrated spine label on it as well. Then, without telling anyone, he brought it to his local library in Boise, Idaho, and slipped it in among the books in the children's section.

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The Cure at Southside Festival 2019

Robert Smith of The Cure was already a hero to five decades of disaffected youth, including the creators of “South Park,” but now everyone has a reason to love the “Close to Me” singer. He got Ticketmaster to admit it was gouging customers and got them a refund.

The Cure went out of its way to ensure that ticket prices to its upcoming North American tour were affordable to the average fan by selling them as low as $20. The band also used Ticketmaster’s “verified fan” process to cut down on scalpers and prevent fans from having to pay inflated prices on resale sites.

But the band had no power over the egregious fees that Ticketmaster tacks on to every sale. The band wouldn't agree to dynamic pricing—where ticket prices fluctuate based on demand—so it appears as though Ticketmaster simply raised its fees per ticket.

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Two northern cardinals captured on Carla Rhodes' bird-feeder camera.

The pandemic has caused many people to reevaluate their surroundings. When you’re stuck at home more often than you’d like, you start to pay a lot more attention to what goes on in your own backyard.

This type of introspection inspired wildlife photographer Carla Rhodes to get a closer look at the furry friends that live near her home in the Catskill mountains of New York.

What she found was magical.

“The winter of 2020-2021 was particularly brutal to humankind. After months of enduring the Covid-19 pandemic, we were now collectively slogging through winter. As a result of being stuck at home, I focused on my immediate surroundings like never before,” Rhodes said in a statement.

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Identity

57-year-old former model Paulina Porizkova had the perfect response to ageist comment online

"We have earned our beauty, we understand what it is, and we can see it so much better."

Photo by Malin K. on Unsplash

Paulina Porizkova took on a commenter who said she was in "pain" being "old and ugly."

Aging is a weird thing. From one perspective, it's something we should be grateful for. Few people would wish for the kind of short, uneventful life that would remove aging from the equation completely. The longer we live, the more we grow and learn and experience life, and "aging" is simply the mathematical sum of those experiences. All good, right?

On the other hand, our society does everything in its power to hide the fact that aging happens. Especially when it comes to women. According to Statista, the global anti-aging beauty market is estimated to be worth $58.8 billion. People will try all manner of creams, serums, masks, acids, lights, technologies and surgeries to try to prevent wrinkles, lines, sagginess, spots and other signs that our bodies are changing with time.

Most of us live our daily lives somewhere in the middle of these two realities, wanting to embrace our aging selves but also hoping to stave off some of the more obvious signs that we're getting older. It's natural to resist it in some ways, since the older we get, the closer we get to the end of our lives, which we certainly don't want to hasten—especially if we actually love living.

It can be helpful to see people who are embracing their age, which is why it can be inspiring to see someone like former supermodel Paulina Porizkova confidently sharing photos of her 57-year-old self.

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