Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 Posted by shack at 7:54 PM

Expedition to Rid Oceans of Plastic Pollution

An expedition called The Five Gyres is about to leave Valdivia, Chile, in a ship called the Sea Dragon, to sail the South Pacific in search of plastic pollution.

(A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements).

Sea Dragon is a 72ft (22m), 90,000lb displacement steel hulled sailing vessel built in the UK in 2000.

Its departure from Valdivia was delayed in case a tsunami from last week's disastrous earthquake in Japan might reach the coast of Chile.

"Although one could argue every single thing on the planet is related, ocean plastic pollution seems to have little to do with the recent 8.9 magnitude earthquake and trunami that hit Japam last week," says Paula Alvarado, a Buenos Aires journalist who is a passenger on the Sea Dragon.

"Yet, the subject has been strangely present in the days prior to our departure with the 5 Gyres project to take part in the most extensive study of ocean plastic pollution undertaken till now."

Alvarado says that in 1960, Valdivia was hit by a more powerful earthquake measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale, as against the recent 8.9 in Japan.

"The city was severely damaged by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 — the most powerful earthquake ever recorded", she says.

"Debris and destroyed buildings from the earthquake can still be found in the suburban areas — land subsidence and sediments make navigation of the local rivers complex, with some ruined buildings still adjoining the water."

Here's a video showing the extent of the devastation:

Why are they so concerned about pollution of the oceans?

The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth.

These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys, and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop.We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce.

What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains “unaccounted for”, lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.

In this video, Marcus Eriksen is not really fishing. He is catching plastic in the Atlantic Ocean. Eriksen and his wife, Anna Cummins,want to publicise the growing buildup of plastic waste in our oceans and to study its effects.

Cummins also explains that trawling gathers plastic particles from surface waters only. Different kinds of plastic may be suspended at different depths – a dreadful rainbow of rubbish spanning the ocean from top to bottom – but no one has done the research to find out.

For more about The Five Gyres expedition, visit:

And for a progress report from Paula Alvarado click on: on-the-way-to-possible-great-south-pacific-garbage-patch

And another, sent from Robinson Crusoe's Island: 5-gyres-tsunami-ruins-impossible-nature-surroundings-robinson-crusoe-island

Let's Whistle While We Work!

Sunday, 24 April 2011 - From ERIC SHACKLE in Sydney, Australia. Posted by Eric Shackle at 22:32

The world would be a happier place if we all whistled lively tunes while we worked ... and at other times as well.

Two years ago, Luke Janssen, CEO of a Sydney firm, was acclaimed as the world's best whistler, when he won an intenational contest held annually in Louisburg, North Carolina (pop. 3000). It's ironic that he's better known in the US than in Australia. Last week he was featured in articles in the New York Times and the Arabic news agency Al Jazeera.

"Luke Janssen wants to make whistling cool again," Erik Olsen wrote in the New York Times.

"Sitting in a chair in his Williamsburg apartment, Mr. Janssen, who is from England, whistled along to a blues song as he strummed his guitar. But his is no ordinary warble. In fact, Mr. Janssen, 35, is considered one of the world's best whistlers. And he may also be one of the more controversial.

"Mr. Janssen, who is chief executive of a mobile applications company based in Sydney, Australia, was in vigorous practice mode in his apartment, preparing for a return to Louisburg, N.C., and the International Whistlers Convention, which was held this month and is considered the whistling world's most prestigious competition."

The Al Jazeera story said: "Whistlers often talk about the need to "pucker-up" but oh boy do they need to have rubber lips and flexible tongues to do it.

"I dunno if you saw that but that's how it's done," said competitor Luke Janssen, baring teeth, tongue and epiglottis to demonstrate his own special brand of trilling.

"Luke was a champion whistler two years ago and he came for his crown once again ... but the competition was stiff."

Last week, whistlers from 25 US states and 14 countries competed in Louisburg. Damariscotia Helm of Rocky Mount, North Carolina was judged best female whistler, and Terry Rappold, of New Orleans, Louisiana won the men's section.

Luke Janssen is CEO and founder of TigerSpike, a technology driven personal media company. He took part in the 2004 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

* You can hear (and see) Luke Janssen's remarkable whistling style in this

Click on Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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