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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

THE BLUE REVOLUTION AND THE IRON LUNG SYNDROME

The Story of the Blue Revolution continues from Chapter 4 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.

The other edge of the environmental sword is global climate warming. Can the Blue Revolution remediate both hurricanes and the Greenhouse Effect at the same time?

In 1993 I was the lead author of a paper published in the Journal of Marine Biotechnology (referenced in the mentioned book) suggesting this prospect. While this outcome is especially questioned by scientists, it certainly seemed to me that as we absorbed all the upwelled carbon dioxide through marine biomass plantations, we should be able to add a combination of minerals, including iron and nitrogen compounds, to also take up this gas from the atmosphere, as shown in the Martin experiment. Mind you, environmentalists detest this form of water pollution. But the Audubon Society is against windmills (at least they were so in my active days), so society needs to take a stand for the good of the community.

This leads me to the Iron Lung Syndrome, something I’ve been contending with all my life. The whole point of this matter is that we should not just react to the symptom, but, instead, solve or cure the underlying problem. Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw of the Harvard Medical School invented the iron lung in 1928 to treat victims of poliomyelitis. Engineers then built bigger, better and more expensive iron lungs over time. Yes, lives were being saved, but the simple solution was to cure polio. Thus, in 1952, along came Jonas Salk, who developed a vaccine to prevent this ailment. The oral version came about in 1958, thanks to Albert Sabin. Anyway, polio was cured, the problem was solved and the iron lung has largely become obsolete.

But society keeps adhering to the iron lung syndrome. Hurricanes are a good example. Huge amounts of money are being spent on strengthening homes, levees, harbors, whatever, in anticipation of the next big one. We are again reacting to the symptom and not curing the problem. We are building more expensive equivalents of the iron lung when our focus should be to cure the problem, the hurricane itself.

Take sea level rise as yet another example. Conferences, time, money and confusion have accumulated to discuss how to counteract this symptom of global climate warming. Walls around cities are being considered and whole populations are scheduled to be moved, especially in places like Bangladesh or atolls in the Pacific. Again, why build that more elaborate iron lungs when you can find a vaccine for the problem, which is to remediate climate warming.

The beauty of the Blue Revolution is that there is a distinct possibility that, while producing sustainable next generation marine products, providing exciting new habitats and bedeviling the United Nations with ten thousand countries, hurricanes can be prevented and, maybe, sea level rise can be obviated by controlling global climate warming. Why has this simple solution become the crawl better called the Blue Evolution? Well, the price of oil and re-interest in any renewable energy option are again providing hope.
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Tropical Storm Fay eased into southwest Florida at 65 MPH and is slowly sliding northwest, dropping a lot of rain. Accumulations exceeding a foot are expected. Tornados are a huge danger. The current programs predict Fay entering the Atlantic off north Florida, then, after some strengthening, re-entering land through Georgia. The path is curiously sinusoidal. Typhoon Nuri is hitting the very northern part of the Philippines at 100 MPH, could strengthen to 120 MPH, and either head southernly towards Hong Kong, straight on into China, or northernly to Taiwan.
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The price of crude oil dropped below $112/barrel, then skipped up towards $115/barrel at this writing. The DJI dropped 130.
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