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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The following is excerpted from Chapter 4 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth:

Japan has done more for the Blue Revolution than any country. While the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, now under their department of education equivalent, is focused on ocean science, scattered researchers, all colleagues, have ventured forth:

o Takenobu Kajikawa, when he was a researcher at Tsukuba, conducted the initial at-sea artificial upwelling tests from 1989 to 1990 in Toyama Bay, next to where my mother grew up. From a depth of 250 meters (829 feet), 26,000 tons of deep ocean water were mixed each day with double the amount of surface water to determine if any additional growth could be observed. This was really only a small addition, as the Jinzu River, which flows into the bay, contributed 500 times more fluid. Alas, nothing of significance occurred, even with two weeks of continuous operation. Professor Kajikawa moved on to teach at Shonan Institute.

o The Marino-Forum 21 project, chaired by Professor Mac Takahashi, under the Fisheries Agency of Japan, advanced the Takumi Project to enhance marine productivity using artificial upwelling in demonstration from 2000 to 2004. The primary author, Kazuyuki Ouchi, passed on his paper to me at a next generation fisheries meeting held in Tokyo in 2005, and I noticed that the second author was Koji Otsuka of Osaka Prefecture University, who spent a sabbatical year a decade ago at the Institute I directed. Fuel oil is used in the process to suck up ocean water from 200 meters (656 feet) Sagami Bay (located just south of Tokyo Bay), and a density current generator releases this fluid and surface waters at a depth of 20 meters. The second phase of this project will run until 2008 and hopes to measure enhanced phytoplankton and fish production.

o Japan has several deep ocean water laboratories now producing marketable products. Kochi, Toyama, Okinawa and Shizuoka labs first came on line, and up to ten more are in various stages of construction or planning. As in Hawaii, potable water appears to be the main commodity, but there is also a range of seafood and sea vegetables being marketed. Precious coral is also being researched at Kochi.

My ocean presentations in the Orient, especially Japan and Korea, focused on the simple fact that they were #1 and #2 in shipbuilding, but with no natural resources. As their shipyards were looking for work, wouldn’t it make sense to build grazing platforms, powered by OTEC, to produce hydrogen or methanol from marine biomass or harvest marine hydrates, while creating next generation fisheries and new habitats for their growing population? While the U.S. only doubled our jurisdiction by proclamation of our Exclusive Economic Zone (the 200 nautical mile region around our coastlines) in 1983, Japan increased their owned space by a factor of 10. The Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC), operating out of their Prime Minister’s Office, then, was supposedly charged to develop these programs. Unfortunately, it turned out that the United States so influenced Japanese marine policy, that all JAMSTEC wanted to do was to have the deepest presence (submersibles) and build a better science ship. They were convinced by our big ocean scientists to emulate them. As a result, Japan, too, had no interest in doing real things in the ocean. Remarkable!

The person I got closest to triggering more ocean development was Isamu Yamashita, who, like me, was a chemical engineer. He graduated from Tokyo University, became president of Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding, chairman of the Shipbuilders’ Association of Japan, vice-chairman of the Keidanren (Federation of Economic Organizations, that is, the voice of industrial Japan), and, at the age of 76, chairman of the East Japan Railway Company, the largest of the Japanese National Railway regions. For a time, he was also chairman of the board of JAMSTEC. I had first met Mr. Yamashita around 1980 when he visited Senator Spark Matsunaga in Washington, D.C., where we talked about OTEC. I had several dinners with him over time, even toured he and his wife around the Big Island of Hawaii, and just when he was so influential over JAMSTEC, I gave him my most eloquent pitch about why that organization only did marine science and would it not be more useful to shift their mission to develop ocean products for Japan and society at large? Being an engineer, he agreed with me, but the next time I saw him, I asked him how the conversion was proceeding. His expression was something on the order of, horrors, there is nothing I can do. And he was chairman of the board with incredible eminence.

South Korea, with an EEZ four times its land space, was another of my subjects. Japan had so many other options for economic development that they can be excused for their clueless waffling in the ocean. Korea is equally desperate for natural resources, has immense capability in building floating platforms, has a way of picking targets of opportunity and was an ideal candidate for ocean development. Over the years I must have traveled 25 times to Korea, toured their high tech facilities, struck up an alliance with several universities and became familiar with their governmental system.

Kee Hyong Kim obtained his PhD from Penn State University, and at a relatively young age, became the first Minister of Science and Technology for South Korea. Our first meeting was awkwardly disastrous, for I was staying at the Lotte Hotel, about three miles from the Hilton Hotel in Seoul, where dinner was to be held with Kim, another Kim, who was head of the Korean Intelligence Agency, and Doe Hwan Chun, who had recently stepped down as president of the country. I left my hotel half an hour before dinner time, but saw a long line waiting for taxis. It was raining. After ten minutes with the line not at all moving, I went to the streets, but only got wet attempting to flag a taxi down. In desperation, I hired a hotel car and chauffeur, who got me to the Hilton 35 minutes late, for the traffic was a mess. Visibly drenched, I charged into the dinner room to see them casually discussing national politics. No one seemed particularly upset about my tardiness. Dinner went well. Only a few weeks later, former President Chun was jailed on charges of corruption, treason and mutiny. He was sentenced to death, but was eventually pardoned by President-elect Dae Jung Kim. There are a lot of Kims in Korea.

Kee Hyong joined the Fellows in Renewable Energy Engineering Board at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and came to Hawaii for a couple of events. We began meeting for dinner on virtually all my trips to Korea. He helped form and became the first chairman of the board of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and toured me around their laboratories located in Taejon. We talked about colored pearls, materials from volcanoes, the Blue Revolution and sundry other fanciful topics. It was all very enjoyable, but the furthest we got in our planning was the Renaissance Project, mentioned in the previous hydrogen chapter.

Inha University is another story worthy of telling. Amazingly, on July 4, 2007, if you had typed “Inha University” and “Sigman Rhee” into Google, you would have gotten zilch. Same for Ask. Sigman Rhee received degrees from George Washington University, Harvard and Princeton, went back to Korea, got into political trouble, spent an exile period in Hawaii, and returned to become the first president of South Korea. He was said to be brutal and authoritarian, but in 1954, President Rhee formed Inha University, with some funds contributed from Hawaii. Inha is a combined contraction of Incheon (where the campus and new international airport is now located) and Hawaii.

Seoung-Yong Hong, in the mid-nineties (time, not age), then, a middle ranking administrator in the South Korean government, led a small group to the U.S. to explore the potential of their country forming a Ministry of the Ocean. One of their stops was in Honolulu, and I got to know Dr. Hong. Well, Japan does not have one, nor does the United States, but South Korea created a Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in 1996. Soon after this formation, I gave a talk on the Blue Revolution to Seoung-Yong’s office staff when he was promoted to President of the Korea Maritime Institute. I went to visit him at Inha University nearly a decade later, for he had become president there, and he gleefully showed me the blueprint, he said, for the Blue Revolution, a report he had just received, the James Watkins U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy manuscript. I did not have the heart to tell him that, no, the reality is that the marine scientists pulled off another coup, and the Watkins report supports what amounts to an ultra global ocean observation system, Joe Vadus and I term as super GOOS. Yet, Dr. Hong could someday soon become minister of the ocean in South Korea. The Blue Revolution could well rest in his future hands because he seems to have that will.

Well, there is also China, which showed the earliest presence in international waters when Zheng He, a eunuch in the Imperial Court, supposedly six feet seven inches tall (about two meters), in the early to mid 1400s, before Columbus, supposedly circumnavigated the world and sailed to the Americas and the Persian Gulf with as many as 30,000 men and 300 ships. Thus, He might have discovered the New World. Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, was all of 75 feet long, with 3 masts. Zheng’s commanding ship was 400 feet (120 meters) long, with nine masts. Perhaps someday I’ll make a China presence.
The price of crude oil dropped to $113/barrel today, but the DJI saw a 140 point fall to 11,642, one of the rare times both went in the same direction.
Most likely, Tropical Depression Kika, which is far away southwest of Hawaii, will further go west and dissipate. However, there is chance that it could strengthen and turn north. Tropical Depression Hernan, at 35 MPH, is 1300 miles east southeast of Hilo, and is expected to become a remnant.

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