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Alex Weber and her friend and classmate Jack Johnston. Photo: Golf.com
Two years ago, a 16-year old diver named Alex Weber was swimming off Pebble Beach near Carmel, CA when she discovered something truly startling: thousands of golf balls from 5 local golf courses rotting on the ocean floor. As she described to NPR, “You couldn’t see the sand, it was completely white.” For the next several months Alex and her dad would haul up hundreds of pounds balls, and then, of course, more golfers would hit more into the ocean. The balls are stored in the Webers‘ garage and started to stink—a sulfuric, chemical smell that is a hint of the toxins they may be releasing into the sea, according to Golf.com. Not to mention they break down into microplastics which poses all sorts of threats to marine life.
Alex then contacted a Stanford University scientist, Matt Savoca, who studied plastic waste in the ocean who came to look at her collection of 50,000 golf balls. Savoca encouraged Alex to write a scientific paper on this source of pollution with his help Weber, now 18 and a published author in a scientific journal, plans to apply to university to study marine science. In the meantime, she is still collecting, advocating for the ocean and keeping up her website. She says it is too bad the golf balls sink. If they floated, people would be shocked and outraged. “If a person could see what we see underwater,” she says, “it would not be acceptable.”
A harbor seal investigates sunken golf balls in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Alex Weber
by Julia Pyper, host/producer, Political Climate podcast, Contributing Editor at Greentech Media The urgency of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 hasn’t dwindled amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But renewed calls to address long-standing racial injustices further underscore that climate solutions can no longer function in a silo. House Democrats’ new “Congressional Action Plan for […]
This week, the Navajo Nation has extended the closure of tribal government offices and ordered residents to stay home for another three weeks as the number of coronavirus cases rises outside the reservation. In May the Navajo Nation had the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the United States, outpacing hot spots like New York. Driving […]
Varun Sivaram is a Senior Research Scholar at the Global Center for Energy Policy at Columbia University and an expert on solar energy policy and development. ODP: In your book called Taming the Sun, you have talked about how solar can be the centerpiece for a global energy revolution. How much do you think renewables […]
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