Marino Morikawa used his education in environmental science to develop a completely organic and effective solution to lake pollution. The young Japanese-Peruvian was devastated to learn that his childhood lake was going to be capped because it was so polluted. Armed with science and a love for the environment, Morikawa set out to revive area’s ecosystem.
Humans aren’t treating lakes, rivers, or streams well, even though we need them for fresh water. According to National Geographic, 70% of industrial waste in developing countries are dumped into untreated waters. Other than synthetic pollutants, organic waste such as sewage, runoff water full of fertilizers, and animal excrement also end up in freshwater sources. Without proper waste treatment and pollution clean-up, we could lose many precious lakes and destroy a huge number of ecosystems.
In 2010, Morikawa took a break from school because he wanted to clean up the lake in El Cascajo Wetlands. The water became a dumpsite for industrial waste and sewage, so most life in the area has left. Morikawa was able to clean the water using two inventions: a nanobubbling system and biological filters. The tiny bubbles trap and paralyze bacteria, and the filters contain clay that retains inorganic pollutants. In just 15 days, Morikawa was able to revive the wetlands and wildlife came back to the area. With this technology, funding, and a bunch of volunteers, he aims to clean the largest lake in South America, Lake Titicaca.
In an interview with NAS Daily, Morikawa was asked why he thinks his effective solution hasn’t been used more frequently, and he responded because it is expensive. He was able to revive a small ecosystem, but it cost him a lot of money. This means that big clean-up projects are going to require a lot of time, money, and resources, and people need to be prepared to give all that.
While it’s easy to assume that people are selfish and won’t contribute to freshwater cleaning, it’s important to know that people like Morikawa exist. He was a young student who was so passionate about the issue that he took off time from school to help out. There are more people like him in the world who can push us towards a common goal. In turn, we should encourage brave and noble behavior like this by supporting projects like the Lake Titicaca cleanup—whether it be financially or through volunteered labor. We can only clean the Earth’s lakes with the help of each other.