*Image: These alpacas live in Ross, but will alpacas one day be needed in space settlements for their fleece? (Image made in the torus space station in Second Life)

The oceans are full of plastic pollution, plastics which are frequently taken in by fish, turtles and birds, and are a tragic cause of marine deaths.

This is a problem that is being constantly added to, and is too huge and expensive for governments to deal with.

When we secure a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth, where there would be no further cost to Earth, and expansion in space would be without limit, and we could look toward producing robots in space factories that can clean up Earth’s oceans, as a free service from space.

The plastics and other rubbish gathered in could be recycled for Earth and space industries.

We would need to design robots that can deal with microscopic plastic particles.

These particles can come from plastic beads used in soap, and from our clothes, which are often artificial fibre that does not degrade in the sea. [1]

Whenever we wash our clothes, we are sending micro particles into the sea, and if these particles are not biodegradable, they will accumulate in the food chain.

The oceans are full of micro-particles, even in the waters of the Great Southern Ocean around Tasmania.

Rather than having to clean up our micro-fibres from non-biodegradable clothing, we could shift gear to only wearing biodegradable fibres.

Do we need to keep non-degradable microfibres out of the system in a space habitat, so that they don’t become a risk to our health?

Do we need to consider the health implications of micro-plastic fibres accumulating in our food chain in space?

This is a field of research that needs to happen.

There is the case of a woman who had to have fingers amputated, because a dealer had put plastic beads in drugs, which accumulated in her fingers. [2]

This is a drastic example, but at this stage, we can but wonder how far the micro-plastic problem goes, how much is concentrated in fish, and how much we take in if we eat fish.

Maybe research is needed into whether plants accumulate micro-plastics, because these particles are very small.

As this problem is better understood, we can wonder if we will need to use biodegradable fibres in our clothing in space.

This could be cotton, hemp, or the agave, which is a traditional plant used for food and clothing in America.

For finer quality fibres, will we need to have alpacas in space?

It is one thing to figure out how to grow food in space, but to ensure that we are maintaining a healthy environment, with healthy food and avoid health issues for citizens, we will need to deal with all activities in fine detail.

In space we will need to work from the atom upwards, in a system of total recycling.

This attention to environmental and human health in space, can lead directly to dealing with environmental and human health issues on Earth.

Visitors from Earth to the space cities may only be permitted to wear biodegradable clothing, and also go though a cleansing period, to get the pollution out of their system.

It will be an odd thing if space habitats turn out to be much healthier places to live, than on the old Earth.

That is, until sapiens get around to cleaning up the Earth’s environment, from the atom up.

Sad to say, the Earth is a highly polluted planet.

Give me space for health.

REFERENCES ~

[1] Deep-sea animals eating plastic fibers from clothing
Erica Cirino, 15 August 2017, Space Daily
http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Deep-sea_animals_eating_plastic_fibers_from_clothing_999.html

Ocean Life Eats Tons of Plastic—Here’s Why That Matters
Laura Parker, 16 August 2017, National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/ocean-life-eats-plastic-larvaceans-anchovy-environment/

andf salt from the sea will now include micro-plastics ~
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/06/the-eco-guide-to-microplastics

The presence of microplastics in commercial salts from different countries
Nature
https://www.nature.com/articles/srep46173

[2] Drug addict receives amputations after dealer put plastic pebbles in batch
Caroline Winter, 15 May 2017, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-15/drug-addiction-impact-fingers-part-amputated/8522848

*Kim Peart is an observer of life and explorer of the future, living in Ross in Tasmania’s Midlands.