By Rodrigo Riera
We will take advantage of two recent news, the first one is not directly related to the marine environment; it is the "shade balls" or shadow balls. They are the black balls that in Los Angeles were deposited in one of the water reserves of this city, to prevent the evaporation of the stored water.
For the cover, the photograph with the trucks full of black balls that fell down the slope until they reached the water has been very good and in practically all the newspaper articles they talk about the advantages of these balls to stop the evaporation of water and thus avoid the loss of this liquid during the drought that is devastating the state of California. Instead, it is surprising that the vast majority of these texts ignore the ecological costs of these shadow balls on the water reserves, and they are more than we imagine. To name only the most important, they release chemicals into the water and microplastics are generated in the environment due to the erosion and friction of the balls.
Another story published a long time ago in the media was the creation of "a great funnel" to clean the oceans of plastic. Do you remember this news? In most cases, the age of the inventor was highlighted and the benefits of this idea were discussed in order to end all the floating plastics on the planet. But removing plastic from the ocean is more complicated than you might imagine and the idea has a number of limitations, for example, it only collects plastics from the ocean surface when studies show that they exist deeper, or that the mass of plastics moves by currents and is colonized by living beings creating a community of animals associated with them.
In addition, if in these news an incomplete analysis is made and with a high dose of bias on the previous scientific advances on this subject, it predisposes a part of society to defend the ideas that these articles promulgate with few solid arguments and with an evident blindness about its drawbacks. But a common fact in many of these articles that announce with great fanfare a discovery on an environmental issue is that they have not been consulted by scientific personnel with extensive and contrasted knowledge about that field.
I recommend reading texts where ideas and arguments of scientists about current news are presented in order to obtain information that allows making a critical judgment on the subject in question. And more than one will be surprised!
The Huffingtonpost Post