Vortices, Heaps, and Enzymes

Naples trash waste garbage 2008

Or, Three States of Waste...

We have been following the Naples "trash crisis" for almost a year now. Unbeknownst to us, as of a few days ago, the problem has apparently been declared “resolved” by Berlusconi.

It began more than 14 years ago, but flared up last year when official dumps were declared full. The Campania region's dumps reached full capacity more than a decade ago, and since then a state of emergency has been declared every year. Campania is home to some six million people. Eight different commissioners have been appointed, but they have all failed to solve the problem. State of emergency means government money: €1.8 billion (more than $2.5 billion) in emergency funds have been devolved to deal with the problem. The local Camorra mafia has been involved in illegal industrial waste treatment since the dumps reached capacity.

Another looming garbage heap is what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or informally as “plastic soup,” a massive trash formation in the North Pacific. The swirling expanse of debris, made up of plastic junk including footballs, kayaks, Lego blocks and carrier bags, is kept together by the vortexian Gyre underwater currents. That is just the solid visible parts. Each plastic entity photdegrades into small plastic pellets mistaken for plankton. Plastic accounts for 90% of all debris floating in the oceans. In fact, it is estimated that plastic outweighs surface zooplankton 6 to 1.

Forming a thickening artificla continent, the floating garbage reef sits just below the surface and manages to elude satellite photography. The patch slowly bobs in an eddy of ocean in relative stasis.

Ocean Surface Current Simulator (OSCURS) model developed by W James Ingraham Jr. predicts the trajectory of drift originating along the coasts of the North Pacific rim. Drift from Japan is shown in red; drift from North America, in blue.

This could be a job for revamping the NYC TrashCats that prowled and trolled the NYC Rivers in the 1980s and 90s around Fresh Kills...

trashcat water boat nyc

Or maybe the possibility of enzymes from garbage... here.

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