How Natural Oceanic Forces Are Being Harnessed To Clean Up The Seas

Ocean Big Wave

Illustration ©neyro2008/123.rf

With the race against climate change and oceanic pollution in full swing, scientists are looking for new ways to harness the powers of nature. Natural forces like wind, solar, and water are being used to create electricity all over the world. What if there were a way to harness the oceanic forces, waves, and currently to help clean up the seas?

Researchers and organizations are searching for renewable energy sources for ocean clean-up initiatives. A potential solution for sustainable clean-up is harnessing oceanic forces through ocean power technology.

The Devastation Of Oceanic Pollution

Every piece of plastic ever created still exists on Earth. Humans have come to rely on single-use plastic for daily convenience. Large corporations insist on plastic packaging and shipping, contributing to up to 2.75 million tons of waste every year.

 Where does all that plastic go?

The Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, has determined that the majority of the world’s microplastic waste ends up in the ocean. Over time, millions of tons of microplastics dumped into streams and rivers find their way to the Pacific, much of it contributing to what we now call the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Plastics in oceans are detrimental to fish, birds, underwater plants, coral, and other sea life. Plastic never breaks down and, if consumed by animals, often causes severe issues and frequently death. Oceanic plastics, debris, and microplastics cause the death of hundreds of thousands of marine animals. Many become entangled in discarded fishing nets and other plastics.

Luckily, several organizations are working to find new and innovative ways to fight for clean seas. Scientists are discovering new ways to harness the oceanic forces to clean up plastic and debris.

Cleaning The Air With Coral And Kelp

One possible solution is to use the power of kelp. Marine plants, coral reefs, and kelp contain naturally climate-saving abilities such as the power to draw CO2 from the atmosphere. Encouraging the growth of more kelp and coral will help fight carbon pollution. Carbon trapped in some forms of kelp becomes permanently sequestered and removed from the atmosphere completely.

Harnessing The Tides

Oceans contain an immense amount of energy just waiting to be harnessed in a clean, sustainable, and beneficial way. Wave power technology is an innovative method of harnessing tide forces and swells caused by strong winds and controlled by lunar energy and gravitational pull. The power of the ocean can be employed for ocean clean-up initiatives once the technology is developed further and distributed globally.

Associate Professor Irene Penesis of the Ocean Renewable Energy Group is working with other scientists and researchers to bring this technology to the forefront of ocean clean-up projects. Researchers believe that tidal turbines, tidal barricades, and kinetic energy of the tides may be an effective and sustainable solution for the renewable energy required for ocean clean-up efforts.

Issues With Ocean Clean Up

One issue with ocean clean-up is offsetting the carbon footprint of plastic retrieval. While net dragging with the use of large ocean liners can effectively remove large areas of plastic, the carbon output of the technology often outweighs the efforts.

Greenpeace and other non-profit groups are looking for grassroots methods of removing plastic and debris. These more sustainable efforts often come down to human power and elbow grease. Divers will collect debris and garbage manually and send pieces for scientific analysis to help determine more effective and non-polluting clean-up methods.

Another issue that comes up in the fight for clean seas is: where does all the garbage go? Unfortunately, other than landfills — the question of where to put the trash has not yet been answered. The logical solution is to reduce waste and shift to more sustainable living.

What Can You Do?

The oceans are home to trillions of unwanted plastic particles. Greenpeace is working to bring awareness to the weight of this issue. To put the massive impact of microplastic into perspective, Greenpeace states that there are more pieces of plastic in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy. Now that’s something to think about!

For people who want to do their part to protect the oceans, it’s vital to shift into a more sustainable lifestyle. While plastic products add convenience, the outcome is just not justifiable. Our planet’s future is at stake.

Some of the most significant contributors to plastic in the ocean are:

  • Bottled water manufacturers
  • Soft drink corporations
  • Disposable diapers
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Fishing nets

Not everyone can strap into a tank and wet suit and pick debris from the oceans, one piece at a time. However, everyone has the power to take small, actionable steps in the fight against climate change.

For some, it may begin with investing in reusable products such as sandwich bags, shopping totes, and reusable coffee cups. Others may be able to take a step further and transition to a zero-waste life.

As Greenpeace and other zero waste companies say, to reduce plastics dumped into the ocean, we don’t need every person living a completely zero-waste life — but we do need every person trying and caring.

Final Thoughts On Natural Oceanic Forces And Clean Seas Solutions

From encouraging kelp and coral growth to harnessing tidal energies, there are many ways that organizations are innovating the fight against climate change. Oceanic forces are still a largely untapped power source for sustainable energy.

Scientists are working to harness oceanic forces for plastic clean-up projects and other Earth-friendly endeavors. Ocean and wave power technology are innovative solutions for the climate crisis. While still in stages of development, the future of renewable energy and ocean clean-up may lie in the forces of the tides and waves.

When everyone works together with the goal of a clean future, clean seas are a possibility. Humans need to work towards a green lifestyle that avoids supporting major corporations contributing to plastic in the oceans. The future of the planet depends on it.

Megan Rebstein-Dovey is a watersports and product expert, an ex-national athlete, and a fearless anti-plastics campaigner originally from the south coast of Kwa-ZuluNatal, South Africa. Meg is a degreed AGA(SA), and an adventurous, marine conservation writing enthusiast.