If you don’t remember the movie Cast Away, here’s a brief synopsis. Tom Hanks is stranded on an uninhabited tropical island following a plane crash. As he struggles to survive, a Wilson brand volleyball washes ashore. The castaway paints a face on the ball and names it “Wilson.” Wilson becomes a cherished friend. The castaway makes a final desperate attempt to leave the island by crafting a raft to be sailed into shipping lanes. A storm nearly destroys the rafts and leaves Wilson floating away. The castaway tries to save the volleyball/BFF but cannot reach it/him without abandoning the safety of the raft. He cries out, “Wilson! Wilson, I’m sorry! Wilson!” Wilson is lost at sea. Tom Hanks is rescued.
Wilson is again taking to the high seas. This time it’s not the volleyball, but a 2,000-foot-long unmanned structure that corrals plastic debris in the ocean. Its technical name is System 001 but has been dubbed “Wilson” as a nod to the movie.
The $20 million floating boom was developed by the nonprofit organization Ocean Cleanup and deployed from San Francisco Bay a few days ago. Its main target is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
This video from CNET shows how it will work:
According to an article in The New York Times, Ocean Cleanup has collected nearly $35 million in donations. The Times says, “Much of that money paid for the boom and helped underwrite research like a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, which quantified the full extent of the garbage patch. Future booms are estimated to cost about $5.8 million each. Major sponsors include Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com, and Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal.”
But many scientists, who are applauding the effort, believe that overall most of the effort should be put into stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean. Worldwide, USA Today reports that most of the plastic trash in the ocean comes from Asia with the top six contributing countries being China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The article cites Richard Thompson, head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, who believes 95% of the effort should be put into stopping plastic from entering the ocean while 5% should be spent on cleanup.
What are your thoughts on Wilson? Should there be more efforts to stop the pollution at the source than there should be on cleanup?
Please let me know what you think in the comments section below.