Planet Earth is not in great shape. Our oceans are swamped with plastic. Our rivers run with poison. The air is polluted, and our forests fall to the woodcutter’s ax. The climate is in crisis. The world burns.
Big problems call for big solutions. We need trailblazers who think outside the box.
In 2012, 35-year-old engineer Topher White was hiking in an Indonesian forest when he heard a chainsaw’s unmistakable buzz.
He rushed towards it and found a poacher felling an ancient tree. The poacher fled the scene of the crime, and the tree was saved. Yet Topher had experienced a Eureka moment.
The loss of rainforests is a huge factor in climate change. Rainforests soak up carbon. They also provide us with oxygen and wildlife with homes. Yet they are being destroyed at an alarming rate. The United Nations says that an average of 100,000 acres are being destroyed daily.
Topher came up with an ingenious idea to stop deforestation in its tracks. Using recycled phones, he created a solar-powered listening device. The device is attached to trees. It identifies and pinpoints the sound of chainsaws from miles around.
Once identified, the device flashes an alert to the phones of Topher and his team. They can then launch a real-time intervention.
Topher helped prevent illegal logging all over the world. People refer to him as the guardian of the forest.
Boyan Slat is another environmental trailblazer. At a young age, he fell in love with the ocean. In 2011, 16-year-old Boyan was diving in Greece when his heart broke. He saw there was more plastic than fish in the ocean.
Plastic pollution had a profound effect on the Dutch youngster. He decided to dedicate his life to turning the tide.
In 2013, Boyan set up Ocean Cleanup. The group has one mission: to cleanse the earth’s oceans of plastic.
Funded by donors from all over the world, Boyan created a unique solution. He designed a 600-meter-long free-floating device to collect rubbish from the ocean.
The device has a plastic barrier that sits on the surface of the sea. Below is a three-meter screen designed to trap pieces of plastic. It is designed not to disturb the marine life below. The device has onboard transmitters to notify vessels when it needs emptying.
After two failed attempts, in 2019, the device collected significant amounts of rubbish from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The naysayers were silenced. The plastic was recycled, and Ocean Cleanup continue their work.
Boyan explained, “Our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage is within our sights.”
And that’s a sea of change we can all enjoy.
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