I went to bed last night with a flurry of news alerts on my phone that the search for MH370 had been suspended, a polite way of saying cancelled. While this understandable after three years, it represents a colossal failure that I am still grappling to understand.
Why Can’t We Find MH370?
The internet is full of conspiracy theories concerning why we cannot find the wreckage of MH370. I will steer clear of those here. But I am genuinely perplexed that in the age of satellites and GPS a massive 777-200 can just dissapear.
An article in TIME Magazine helped me to better understand the issue. The reason we are able to explore millions of miles into space but cannot map 95% of the ocean floor is a technological barrier that has yet to be broken.
Virtually all modern communications technology — be it light, radio, X-rays, wi-fi — is a form of electromagnetic radiation, which seawater just loves to suck up.
That leaves sound, and sonar is not all that efficient. The world’s most modern submarine, Bluefin-21, was sent on multiple occasions to seek out MH370 but could only proceed to a certain depth before the pressure forced it to resurface.
And that’s not the only issue clouding the search. There is also the problem of trash.
The other issue affecting visibility is the sheer volume of junk in the ocean. About 5.25 trillion particles of plastic trash presently billow around the planet, say experts, weighing half a million tons. There are five huge garbage patches in the world’s seas, where the swirling of currents makes the mostly plastic debris accumulate.
This trash also confuses Bluefin-21 and has led to many costly searches, all of which turned out to be false-positives.
The irony is that had MH370 “vanished into space” it would have been located. Instead, the wreckage likely sits on the bottom of the ocean, beyond the detection capability of the world’s best technology.
My heart breaks for the families of the MH370 victims who have now learned the underwater search is over. I don’t see another way forward, however. It is pathetic, though, that pollution and lack of technology are the culprits.