Dunvegan Thought Spot

In the research The Dunvegan Group conducts to support our CCR (Customer Care & Retention) programs, we discover articles, blog posts and videos which, although not directly related to our work, are thought provoking or concern matters you may want to think about.  ‘Thought Spot’ covers a broad range of subjects.

The posts in ‘Thought Spot’ are selected by Olev Wain, Ph.D., VP of The Dunvegan Group. 

We welcome your feedback!


 

 

Ocean Trash and Space Junk – Which Is Worse?

We are all aware of the amount of trash, mostly plastic, that has accumulated in the world’s oceans.

In January 2015, National Geographic reported that (edited):

There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.

Though scientists know a great deal about the damage to marine life caused by large pieces of plastic, the potential harm caused by micro plastics is less clear. What effect do they have on fish that consume them?

These micro plastics can come in the form of microbeads that have been used in exfoliating products and toothpaste (now banned in Canada and the US), often described as rinse-off cosmetics.

These microbeads range from 10 microns to 1 millimeter in size; to put this in perspective, a human hair is about 100 microns in diameter, or about one-tenth of a millimeter.

There is public awareness of ocean trash but the public’s awareness of space junk and its implications is almost non-existent.

Wikipedia describes space junk as (edited):

Space debris, junk, waste, trash, or litter is the collection of defunct man-made objects in space – old satellites, spent rocket stages, and fragments from disintegration, erosion, and collisions – including those caused by debris itself. As of December 2016 there have been 5 satellite collisions with space waste.

There is cause to be concerned about the amount of space junk orbiting the Earth. Wikipedia continues:

The Kessler syndrome, proposed by the NASA  scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a scenario in which the density of objects in low earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade where each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions.

One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbital ranges infeasible for many generations.

Think about the communications satellites (e.g., those used for telephone and internet communication) that would be threatened when junk, travelling at speeds in excess of 17,000 kilometers an hour, crosses the satellites’ orbital paths. At such high speeds objects as small as half an inch across have the potential for demolishing a large satellite

Seeing is believing, so why don’t you watch the 11-minute video called “Adrift” describing this junk yard above our heads:

https://aeon.co/videos/space-junk-is-a-calamity-in-the-making-and-a-threat-to-anyone-venturing-off-earth

Should we be as concerned about space junk as we are about ocean trash? I think so!

Your thoughts?

Image courtesy of Petrovich9 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Relevant links:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150109-oceans-plastic-sea-trash-science-marine-debris/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_debris

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome

Return to list

0 Comments

    Leave a Reply