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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WILL THERE BE WHALE SHARK STEAKS IN THE FUTURE?

When you write about everything, a few topics will be controversial.  Compound this situation with the human fact that virtually any subject matter will have proponents and detractors.  The whale shark happens to fall in this category because there are passionate whale protectors, vegetarians with a compassion for anything mammalian, and sincere but possibly misguided individuals and organizations dedicated to conserving any large animal species, but appalled at confining them to zoos and aquaria.  I probably get more hate mail for advocating whale shark steaks (which also happens to be among my most read postings) than anything else I publish, for not only would this beautiful creature be confined, but, horrors, killed and eaten.

So let me begin by stating that a whale shark:
The whale shark is the largest fish, with females up to 42 (fish stories go up to 75) feet in length, and is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.  However, every community (except China) so values this exotic attraction for gracing their marine environment that it is protected.  "Blame" this on tourism, if you must.  Whale sharks reach maturity at the age of 30 and can live up to a hundred years.  National Geographic loves to show them.  Pods of as many as 400 whale sharks have been observed in locales off Yucatan. Here is their habitat:


It is reported that the Gulf of Tadjoura in Djibouti is where they congregate in October and March, and you can snorkel with them.  There is even a Sheraton (left) in close proximity to the bay, my fall world adventure features stays at Starwood properties, I will be in the general vicinity in October and I can still adjust my schedule.  Hmmm....  (For the record, I looked into this option, and I can fly from Dubai to Djibouti City, stay for two days, and move on to Istanbul, my next stop anyway.  However, it takes five flights, beginning at ungodly hours, and I'm already at the limit of total flights allowed, 16).  Here is a photo featured by this hotel, and this detour remains enticing:


Returning to a more sober reality, I too decry the unfairness of this all, for, while sharks cause 20 human deaths/year, we, apparently kill 100 million sharks/year, mostly just for the fin.  Interesting that toasters and chairs are responsible for around 700 lives/year, while coconuts claim 150 people/year.  There has never ever been a record of a whale shark killing a human being.  But this is because their esophagus is only 3 inches in diameter and they consume mostly plankton and tiny seafood matter.

That fact is one reason why the Blue Revolution could someday produce next generation fisheries cultivating whale sharks, for, with the limited nutrients available from artificial upwelling induced by the ocean thermal energy conversion process, you would be able to produce a thousand times more whale shark matter than, say, a blue marlin fishery.  Large fish eat smaller fish which eat even smaller fish, etc., where each trophic level results in ten times more nutrients.  Whale sharks mostly survive at the lowest trophic level.

Notably, a particularly key factor could also be that, while cows only give birth to one calf (twins occur 5% of the time), a whale shark mother can produce up to 300 pups.  While these photos seems almost cruel, whale shark flesh is prized in China, and is much healthier, with low saturated fat and higher omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

What about aquaria around the world showcasing whale sharks?  I've come to the conclusion that they don't belong in captivity.  Read my posting of my visits to the Osaka Aquarium (left).  The following photos show whale sharks in Okinawa (Ocean Expo Park, 2-3 hours away by vehicle), Atlanta and Yantai (China):


Here is a history of whale sharks in captivity, from as early as 1934 in Japan, and includes India, Dubai and other cities in Asia.

So will there be whale shark steaks in your future meals?  Actually, you can already get them in China, but there it is known as tofu steak, so I suspect the texture will not remind you of the more conventional form.  The Huffington Post had a misleading article a year ago entitled, China Takes Pangolin and Whale Shark Off the Menu.  As much as the world has criticized China for allowing the fish to be caught, the fact of the matter is that there are laws, but they are not being enforced.  Each carcass is worth about $30,000 for a variety of consumer products, and southeastern China harvests around 600 of them annually.

So China is criticized for taking whale sharks, while Japan continues to catch whales.  Can there be a more sustainable way to provide seafood into the future.  Perhaps the Ultimate Ocean Ranch can be part of the solution.  Stay tuned to the development of the Blue Revolution and the coming of the Pacific Ocean International Station.

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There are four looming ocean storms, but none seems threatening:


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

THE AMAZING COUNTRY OF QATAR

Over the past seven plus years of this blog site, an average of 350 viewers per day from now a total of 219 countries have come for a visit.  However, the past couple of days saw a thousand clicks/day, for topics that should not attract any particular interest.  More come when I e-mail contacts about a particular subject matter, but most show up for natural disasters and three topics in particular:  the country of Qatar, whale sharks and food/travel.  This a blog on renewable energy and the environment, so why these topics draw the most attention is a puzzlement.

No doubt social media come into play, but I haven't figured out how to enhance readership without bothering friends.  Over the next few months I will experiment with Facebook, YouTube and Reddit to determine if I can catalyze viewership.

Nearly five years ago, the country of Qatar (pronounced "gutter" with a guttural "g") paid my way to advise them on energy.  The most popular posting occurred on 8November2010 entitled THE WONDER OF QATAR.  Should you have clicked on that article, you can access the other five by going to the right column and scrolling down to that period.  This is the closest thing to a fantasy world, but I worry about their future, for their citizens have become the ultimate product of a sheltered community.  You can read the details, but let me provide a grand summary, taking us to the present:

  • Was a British protectorate until 1971.  A geographic area slightly larger than the Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Only 15% (278,000) of the residents are citizens of the country, with the rest there to serve.
  • Q has the highest per capita income at $143,427.  #10 is the USA at $54,597.
  • High level people who work there told me that they have never had a substantive discussion with a citizen.  Surely enough, in one of sessions I passed on my business card to a legal local in flowing white robe who looked at me with minor disdain and eased away.  I later learned that business cards are below the dignity of many.
  • The current Emir (Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, right), now 35 (second son of second wife) was so anointed  by his father (three wives and 24 children) in 2013, who abdicated at the age of 60.  This father assumed command as Emir in 1995 when his father was away on vacation, keeping his dad in exile until 2004.  Tamim is the fourth oldest son, but his sibling superiors were eliminated for playing too much, praying too much and just not wanting to become king.
  • Founded Al Jazeera.
  • Supports two American bases, maintains close ties with Hamas and Iran, funds a variety of terrorist organizations, but has positive relations with Israel.
  • Donated $100 million to the Hurricane Katrina fund.
  • Clearly bought the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and will probably retain this host role because...  Don't count them out of the 2024 Summer Olympics.
  • The architecture is fabulous.
  • When I was there gasoline was two and half times CHEAPER than drinking water.
  • The country has become rich because of oil.  However, as small as the country is, they still have hardly used their natural gas reserves, which rank as #3 in the world for capacity, where the U.S. is #6.
  • The per capita carbon dioxide emission is 55.4 metric tons/year.  How bad is that?  The worst by far:  the U.S. is 18.9 and China is 4.9.
  • Women wear black.  Visiting women must wear "appropriate" clothing, while men should not wear shorts.  Alcohol is not served in restaurants.  But, save for religious periods, hotels can.  Even during those periods alcohol through room service is allowed.
  • If you wondering what that first photo was above, it is Louise Bourgeois' Maman, a sculpture at the Qatar National Convention Center.  They are buying up the art world.  There is something symbolic of that spider in Qatar.  
Here is a blog on QATARSUCKS, which says much of the above more colorfully.  Read the comments.  That is their t-shirt to the right.

Soon after leaving the country I posted in The Huffington Post:

     Can Qatar Lead the World Toward Sustainability?

Everything I said above more than five years ago still apply.  In particular, I'm disappointed that they have not created a METHANOPIA, for, to quote:

The Emir essentially has infinite powers and $35 billion dollars a year. He could, actually, if he found the above to be compelling, just make a command decision, something even Singapore cannot. Yes, it is conceivable that Qatar can lead the world towards sustainability.

Tomorrow I will provide the latest update on whale sharks.

Our Monday Night Table featured Blue Hawaii:


Let me close with another kind of excess.  A few months ago I received a Longs (CVS) coupon to purchase any one item at 40% off.  On the final day before expiration I looked for the most expensive item of utility.  Couldn't find anything sensible, so I bought a Panasonic Toaster Oven, wondering when I would ever use it.  Today came an opportunity.  The pizza served for lunch is abominable.  However, I did take-out, lightly fried the Florentine (took the avocados off--which are not supposed to be on anything called Florentine--and placed the pieces on a salad) in butter, then topped the pizza with pepperoni (which I had purchased weeks ago).  I also picked up a free smoothy, which, apparently, is to be added to our diet, and with a bottle beer, a terrific lunch:

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There is a tropical depression approaching Hawaii from the east, but all signs show a weakening and path south of the Big Island:


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Monday, July 27, 2015

SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT SEA LEVEL RISE?

I've known James Hansen for some time now.  We are acquainted with each other and, well, colleagues, for he now serves as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University.   He is a more credible global warming expert than Al Gore, having been a former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, alerting all of us to the dangers of climate change in the 1980's (that's him then) before any government official had the courage to announce so.  

I saw more hair on him than ever before talking to Fareed Zakaria on GPS yesterday.  Today he sent me (I'm on his e-mailing list, with, no doubt, thousands of others) some details, entitled:  Darn!!  Sea Level Disaster Ahead?  

Basically, he said (my editorial comments are italicized):

  • Our global sea level could well rise as much as 10 feet within 50 years.  (Coming from a usually sober-minded individual, this is frightening.)
  • The potential of going even higher in the subsequent years is particularly alarming, and we could lose all the coastal cities in the world.  (Yes, the Netherlands has found a way to tame the ocean, but what Hansen is saying will definitely include Honolulu and much of southern Florida.)
Hansen's solution is for the world to very simply invoke a severe carbon tax.  Five years ago in The Huffington Post, I proposed a 5 cents / pound carbon dioxide credit.  Read the details.  I further advanced The Venus Syndrome to scare decision-makers.  The problem is that no one listens to me.  Professor Hansen will make a difference.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

A NEW MASTHEAD FOR THIS BLOG SITE?

I've now had this daily blog for more than seven years, the very first being on 29April2008.  There have been 892,272 visits to this  blog site, and the latest is from #219, San Martin.  I'll report on this country sometime later this week.  I've missed a few days, mostly because this blog is supported by Google, and they have a continuing feud with China.  While there I sent a couple of entries out through a Russian link, and it turned out this was a rather racy interface, resulting in a few bizarre responses.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute commissioned a professional photographer to take portraits of our staff.  It was a team of three with a make-up artist.  As the photo at the masthead is now eight years old, I thought this was a good time to change that photo.  Here are two I am considering:



But there is nothing particularly descriptive of these shots.  So what about something taken in 1958:


Or when I actually did some research by building a tunable laser and stimulated the DNA/RNA bonds of E. coli in a microbioreactor:


I once was into oil paintings, so what about sharks:


Or with a whale shark, for this subject always attracts a lot of viewers:


I post on all sorts of political issues, so a photo of my days in the U.S. Senate, perhaps:


That's me to the right. My first 240Z, and this one does also have Diamond Head:


Probably, the articles that draw the most comments are those dealing with food, so:



The first photo is at a Chaine des Rotisseurs (eating society formed in the 13th century) gala affair at the Four Seasons Hualalai, while the lower one is at La Terrazza, where I had my finest dish ever, a white truffles risotto in Rome.  Perhaps a book signing for credibility:


Ah, a rainbow:


This is my favorite tie:


Well, this is beginning to lose relevance, so let me end this charade.  If any reader has any opinion on a replacement of the masthead photo, let me know.

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Tropical Depression Halola, already down to 30 MPH, made landfall near Nagasaki:


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