March 22, 2010 is inauguration day for the biggest ocean cleanup the world has ever seen. The expedition will run through April 15. …
A quote often attributed to Margaret Mead advises, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” These local heroes are well on their way. They invite you to join the adventure.

The View from the Sky, from HERE: http://www.visionmagazine.com/

by Barbara R. Saunders

Two years ago during an airplane trip, Miche Ann Walsh took notice of something she’d witnessed dozens of times before. As she watched the flight attendant collect single-use plastic cups, aluminum cans, and garbage into a trash bag, she thought, Where does all that stuff go?

A few days later, she learned the sordid reality. Phoenix Grace, Walsh’s wife, showed her a magazine article about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Waste plastic we toss ends up the ocean, where it remains trapped in gyres, or vortexes created by rotating ocean currents. This plastic does not biodegrade completely; with exposure to sunlight and water, it breaks into small bits and releases chemicals. The two toxic gyres in the Pacific Ocean are one and a half times the size of the United States. In some sections, there are 40 pounds of plastic to every pound of plankton. The world’s other oceans have garbage patches of their own.

Twenty years ago, people concerned about the impact of plastic waste in water circulated images of animals strangled by the plastic rings used to package six-packs of soda. Some far-reaching types of ecological harm don’t make for such vivid photographs: the “healthy” fresh fish you buy today at the local market may contain residue from that plastic cup in the flight attendant’s trash bag.

A lifelong lover of the outdoors and former staffer at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Walsh had discovered her calling: to create a healthy and vibrant ocean and planet now!

Tribal Teamwork on the Ground
deformedTo realize her vision, Walsh drew on diverse assets, including supportive friends and family, investigative skills gained in law enforcement work, and transformational coaching abilities cultivated through years of personal development courses like those offered through Landmark Education. She sought out allies from Captain Charles Moore, founder of The Algalita Marine Research Foundation and one of the world’s experts on ocean garbage patches, to local businesses such as the Ocean Beach People’s Organic Foods Market in San Diego, CA, which provided space for public information sessions.

Along with family and friends, Walsh incorporated the California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Act Globally, Think Universally, Inc., (AGTU) and on March 27, 2009, she launched The GP2 Project. The name is pronounced “GP-two” but really means GP squared. It is a movement that is growing exponentially to encompass global partnership, cure the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and create a replicable model for cleaning up all of the planet’s other ocean garbage patches.

The project found a treasure in Walsh’s colleague Ruth Shields. Shields’ passion for fostering people’s full participation in life and community had already made her the hub for an expansive online social network consisting of past and present schoolmates, students, coworkers, clients, relatives, colleagues, and friends. With the help of the Internet, The GP2 Project’s founders opened the tent flap to a tribe that spans the globe.

Back into the Cloud
The timing was fortuitous. In February, Captain Charles Moore educated attendees of the TED Conference about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, is an event where the world’s leading thinkers gather to share ideas and inspiration for our world. The video of Captain Moore’s talk was published to the popular TED Web site (ted.com). On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Oprah Winfrey spread the news to her viewers. With awareness building and concern awakened, the next question arose: So, what can we do about this?

Technological Solutions
united nationsWalsh recalls that even Captain Moore was skeptical that there was anything to be done about the ocean garbage patches other than minimizing the plastic we add to them. What he didn’t know was that the ingredients for a solution already exist. Not only is it possible to clean up the patch, the work can be done within a “green circle system” that produces energy rather than consuming it.

Walsh’s research uncovered inOvate, LLC, a robotics developer that has an ocean sweeper on the drawing board that can be deployed from a ship or airplane to make plastic and chemicals bubble to the surface. Once this debris is collected, the Bal-Pac machine, a technology developed by Balboa Pacific Corporation of San Diego, CA, can convert the toxic materials into beneficial byproducts including electricity and biochar (a charcoal-like material used as a soil amendment to sequester carbon from the atmosphere) without generating any pollution.

The Bal-Pac also generates concentrated carbon dioxide, which can feed algae farms like the one operated by Sapphire Energy, a company in a La Jolla, California that counts Bill Gates among its investors and supplied biofuel for the algae-powered Prius that made a cross-country trip earlier this year. Once the biofuel is extracted from the algae, remaining biomass can be reintroduced to the Bal-Pac to generate even more electricity, biofuel and biochar.

A Floating United Nations
March 22, 2010 is inauguration day for the biggest ocean cleanup the world has ever seen. The expedition will run through April 15. The GP2 Project is gaining momentum and recently created a collaborative partnership with The Environmental Cleanup Coalition (ECC) of Hawaii (gyrecleanup.org). The project is currently seeking ships from around the world for this historical expedition. Between now and March 22, 2010, AGTU has $7 million to raise and innumerable contacts to pursue.The GP2 Project is seeking to partner with celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, the Dalai Lama, and eco-celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Bono.

A quote often attributed to Margaret Mead advises, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” These local heroes are well on their way. They invite you to join the adventure.

How can you or your organization make a difference globally? Learn more, make a donation or join a team at thegp2project.org. You can also check out The GP2 Project on Twitter (twitter.com/thegp2project), or Facebook (facebook.com/GP2ProjectCleaningUpTheGreatPacificGarbagePatch). Barbara R. Saunders is a freelance writer and a global citizen currently living in Seattle, WA. She promotes the welfare of animals everywhere by advocating for homeless pets and educating human beings about health, fitness, and wellness.
via Frank Strie