In some countries like the UK, charitable organizations have put their heads together to try and tackle the growing problem of plastics and other harmful detritus that ends up on its beaches.
One charity has come up with the idea of using drone technology to help fight beach pollution, and their campaign enables ordinary members of the public to act as scientists and record valuable data.
How much of a problem is pollution for our beaches?
Items like plastic fishing line, food containers bottles and straws to name but a few, have always shown up on our beaches, but research shows that in some parts of the world, the problem is growing at an alarming rate. Larger items such as children’s plastic toys and everyday household plastic items are also being washed up, and while so much garbage is unsightly, more importantly, it can be extremely dangerous for many marine creatures and birds. Animals and birds consume the plastic items in the mistaken belief that they are edible; what happens then is that the plastic remains in their stomachs and makes them feel full, leading to a slow and painful death through starvation.
Humans alone are estimated to consume up to 11,000 pieces of microplastics every year, and if the issue continues apace and nothing is done to help prevent the plastics in our oceans, then scientists estimate that that there will be many more millions of metric tonnes of plastic entering our oceans by the year 2025.
How are drones being used to help eliminate beach pollution?
With aerial photographs taken of shorelines, drones were initially used to survey the amounts of pollution found on beaches. This left them with thousands of images, and they soon realised that they would need help in identifying what was turning up in each image, and this was where Joe Public came in.
Charitable organizations have begun appealing to the public for their help in identifying and tagging types and locations of garbage and plastic waste from thousands of images. As technology continues to advance, software is being developed that will help scientists to understand more about where the plastic garbage and other marine litter has originated from, what materials it’s comprised of and how much of it is present. When members of the public tag plastic waste seen in any of the images taken by drones, it can help to teach computer
programs to find plastics automatically.
Drones are very much in the public eye now, and while they often come under criticism when those operating them violate the regulations put in place by the FAA, or for their use in violent warfare, they have myriad uses which can be beneficial to the population. Locating and identifying beach pollution is just one profound way in which drones can help our planet, and when used correctly and for legitimate purposes, they can help us
to change the world for the better.