Best of Office Weekly Roundup: Global Cleanup Efforts

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Small environmental problems usually aren’t given too much thought until they evolve into much bigger problems that usually require expensive solutions spanning months or (in most cases) years of dedicated work. In this week’s roundup, we’ll be looking at some of the larger cleanup efforts around the world and the unique challenges they pose.

Paying for a clearer future

Paying for a clearer future.

Air pollution in Beijing, China is a serious health concern: from babies being born noticeably underweight, low visibility in daylight, and even grounding flights at Beijing Capital International Airport when the thick haze is especially overwhelming. Beijing made great efforts to improve air quality in time for the 2008 summer Olympics, but it will take much more to attract foreigners if they wish to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

A senior Chinese official put the estimated costs to tackle this immense environmental problem at $7.6 billion, a figure that is nothing to sneeze at. Beijing plans to reduce hazardous airborne particles to 60 micrograms per cubic meters by 2017, down from 85.9 in 2014 (the national air quality standard is 35).

Not the kind of floaters that should be in the water.

Not the kind of floaters that should be in the water.

The gyre in the North Pacific Ocean is notorious for containing what is considered by many researchers to be the largest concentration of marine pollution in the world. The Great Pacific garbage patch, estimated to be twice the size of Texas, contains pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other miscellaneous waste that finds its way to this area from surrounding continents.

Boyan Slat, a 20-year-old Dutch inventor, has created a concept for cleaning up millions of tons of oceanic waste and has founded a company that works to make his vision of clean waters a reality. The company has already raised $2 million dollars through a successful crowdfunding campaign and while Boyan’s team still has a lot of work ahead of them, things look promising so far.

The results when everyone does their share.

The results when everyone does their share.

Staten Island, New York was once home to not only the world’s largest landfill, but also the world’s largest man-made structure. The Fresh Kills Landfill, as it was named due to its close proximity to the Fresh Kills estuary in western Staten Island, covered 2,200 acres and was originally made to be a temporary dumping area.

The site was closed in 2001 but was temporarily opened that same year due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to make room for debris from Ground Zero. Beginning in October 2008, the City of New York will transform the landfill into the largest park in New York City, to be named Freshkills Park. The park is estimated to be completed sometime in 2038.

Had the landfill been in operation to this day, it would have been the highest point in the East Coast.

There are many areas of the world that have been affected by mass pollution due to a multitude of factors, but for every mess there will be those who will find a solution to make that part of the world cleaner for everybody, regardless of time and cost.