Young people are leading the charge to save the planet | Zella Compton

There’s a young man in Ireland who won $50,000 in August for his research into how to get microplastic particles from the ocean.When I say young, he’s 18.

Sunday, 24th November 2019, 6:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 5:39 pm
Microplastics on a beach in Spain. Pic: DESIREE MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images
Microplastics on a beach in Spain. Pic: DESIREE MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images

Imagine that. Imagine being on a beach, noticing microplastics sticking to oil, translating that into an experiment, conducting the experiment around 1,000 times until you get where you want to be, writing it up and submitting it to a prize fund.

That takes some special kind of dedication to a cause. And he’s called Fionn Ferreira, probably the most epic name I’ve read today.

When I was 18 it was about all I could manage to get out of a bed of an afternoon. What is the youth of today coming to?

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The experiments that Fionn conducted showed that plastic can be removed from the water by using the simple building block of nature, like attracts like.

The magic ingredient in his experiment is ferrofluids which are more widely used to control vibration in speakers.

Pop them into water, and microplastics stick to them and with a magnet. Budda bing – micro plastics can be removed.

That explanation will probably set any scientist worth their salt quivering under the weight of the inaccuracies, but I think I’ve more or less got it right.

But, can you imagine the volume of ferrofluids we’re going to need to clean up the oceans anytime soon, especially as we’re on an unprecedented pollution streak?

I’m not sure that we have time to let these wonderful brainy children invent ways for us to get out of the messes we’re finding ourselves in, so it looks like I’m continuing my own little battle against plastic where I can.

Loose fruit, bars of soap, washing powder in a box, that kind of thing. It’s hard, and it’s tiring and I still buy far more plastic than I should, but we all have to try.

The prize money Fionn won needs to be spent on educational funding. No going to all-nighters on a party island in the Mediterranean like 18 year olds of yesteryear. But then again, maybe he wouldn’t want to, at least until all those ferrofluids make it clean again.

When a drama makes you laugh out loud, steer clear

Le Mans 66, or as it’s sometimes known, Ford Vs Ferrari, is an oddity of a film.

It’s not that the story is surprising (it isn’t), it’s that Christian Bale was directed as an odd-ball mix of Chim-chimeney sweep Dick Van Dyke, crossed with Liam Gallagher. Never have I heard such a dodgy accent, nor seen so much pursed scowling, nor heard so many inane references to cups of tea. Seriously, I thought it was a comedy, I was crying with laughter every time he opened, or closed, or pursed, his mouth.

But Bale is British, so how did that happen? Don’t me get started on his wife and her point in the story – to look after him.

Steer away at speed.

It’s election season so be sure to scrutinise everything

In the furore over social media and the election – the Conservatives’ fake factcheck account to name one part of it – I was very surprised to find Facebook asking me if I’d registered to vote, and asking me to tick a box and share that information.

Really? How much more information do you want me to give you to sell onto other people, companies and political parties?

Why not spend the time looking at the fake news, the fake politics and the bare-faced lies which so many of the electorate and indeed political parties are propagandizing into our news feeds? With the election looming it’s up to every one of us to interrogate the ‘facts’ we’re reading.