Today's piece of writing to read, enjoy, and learn form: "The terrifying true story of the garbage that could kill the whole human race" by Bucky McMahon.
This piece was renowned as one of the best of 2014, and I have to agree that it is really, really insightful. Not only does it take on a topic that many people aren't concerned about (trash in our oceans), it really calls people out for that seemingly unconcerned attitude. While I knew of the gyres (through a few different books I have read), I didn't know of the extent of their danger, how much they can be seen, and that their movement is already being heavily tracked and seen by ship captains, environmentalists, etc.
There were a few techniques used by the author I found particularly awesome:
= The Title!
---It's not often that I see a title like "The terrifying true story of the garbage that could kill the whole human race," and there are certainly ways it could have been written more concisely. But he went with the long "you won't believe this shit" style title, and I really liked that. Not exactly the most creative title, but it does say just what needs to be said!
= Marcus Eriksen
--I love the characterization of this man. While he is sort of laughed at (in the Surivorman comparison) he is also given a lot of credit for what he will be doing: trying to remind us all that yes, all that flotsam could kill us all. Not just the birds. The piece needed a character like him to carry the message, and I think the author did a good job of creating that character.
= The Overall Presentation of the Problem
-- This bits harder to explain, but I think the structure of this piece did a really good job of presenting the problem. It went something like this:
1. What are we looking for (garbage)
2. Why do people doubt it? (because they can't see it or it's effects directly)
3. Oh look, there it is. (picture proof)
4. Who else has seen it? (plenty of people: Hawaii, and many other coastal places, here's more pictures)
5. What is it causing? (loads of issues. fish it it, then we eat fish, then what happens to us...?)
6. And what can we do? (that, is a bit harder.)
This structure really allowed for readers who also knew little of the problem to follow along, get invested, and come out knowing something more, which, I think, was the whole goal!