Kjell Inge Roekke is a man of contradictions. The billionaire owner of an oil company sounds like an unlikely environmentalist, but he is determined to clean up the oceans.
As a young man, Roekke was a high school dropout who moved to the US to become a humble fisherman. Now he is the tenth-richest man in Norway. Worth two billion dollars, he plans to give much of his money away and is starting with cleaning up our oceans.
The Earth is called the blue planet for a good reason. The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. Over 50 percent of all life exists beneath the waves. Humans are destroying it with plastic and pollution. Ironically, Roekke, a man who has made part of his fortune through petroleum, wants to clean the ocean of plastic garbage.
In the Pacific Ocean, there is an island called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is twice the size of the continental United States. It consists of nothing but small pieces of plastic and the rotting corpses of sea life and birds.
Our marine life is drowning in a soup of plastic triggered by our disposable culture. Kjell is taking direct action.
The billionaire is buying a state-of-the-art ship, which will remove five tons of plastic from our oceans daily.
Kjell started his business empire building industrial fishing boats. He believes he owes his fortune to the ocean and wants to pay the debt back.
The seafaring man said, “I want to give back to society the bulk of what I’ve earned. This ship is a part of it.”
Managed by the conservation organization WWF, the ship’s mission is to detox the oceans.
It couldn’t come at a better time. Earlier this year a killer whale washed up on a UK shore that was poisoned by man-made chemicals.
The whale called Lulu was the most contaminated on record.
Lulu was 20 years old and had never reproduced because her body had become so toxic.
Kjell has granted WWF complete control of the boat. The conservation organization is not comfortable with the practices of the Norwegian’s oil business. Yet in the struggle to save the environment, unlikely partners must work together.
Without the world’s oceans, life on Earth wouldn’t exist. They are over four billion years old. Man-made plastic has existed for less than two centuries. The damage it has caused has been immense, but not fatal. The tide can and must turn.