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Monday, August 11, 2008

BLUE REVOLUTION WITH EUROPE (Part 5)

The following was largely excerpted from Chapter 4 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth.
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In the mid 1990’s I was invited (meaning they paid my way) several times to Europe, which seemed more inclined to pursue the Blue Revolution. Germany, and in particular, one of their shipyards, expressed serious interest. A planning gathering in Lisbon, Portugal, I thought, had especial significance, for this was the decision-making session for the 1998 Lisbon World Expo, focusing on the ocean. The described plans, however, did not show any evidence of a progressive ocean event. The previous ocean expo was held in Okinawa, Japan in 1975, where Aquapolis, a large floating platform, was unveiled, designed by Japan ocean architect, Kiyonori Kikutake, a wonderful and creative man who I later met.

It occurred to me then that, wouldn’t it be a magnificent gesture for Japan to refurbish and tow Aquapolis to Lisbon and have it again serve as the centerpiece, as a gesture of East-West cooperation and a connection of the past to the future? The fact that it had withstood numerous typhoons and still was serviceable after twenty years was remarkable. I had twice gone to Okinawa to tour the platform to verify the seaworthiness and discuss future options. So in 1994 at that planning conference, I took Professor Noriyuki Nasu to a Fado restaurant and tried to plant that seed. In Japan, there is usually an elderly leader of the ocean, usually a former University of Tokyo ocean professor, as Nasu was, or a company CEO, as too was Isamu Yamashita (see Part 6). Professor Mario Ruivo, chairman of the Liaison Committee with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, appeared interested. Alas, this effort never went anywhere.

When I toured the eventual 1998 Lisbon Expo, I was fascinated by the terrestrial architecture and variety of cuisine, but totally disappointed that this ocean expo wasted its opportunity to feature the sea around their city. Even sadder, Aquapolis, from all reports, was purchased by a company from Taiwan and sold for scrap.

At the Lisbon conference, as in a couple of other European forums, I gave a talk entitled, “Colonization of the Open Ocean." In 1991 Athelstan Spilhaus, the father of the Sea Grant Program way back in 1963, wrote in Sea Technology, “Colonization of the Ocean.” At one of those inimitable ocean gatherings, I chanced to share a good portion of a bottle of scotch with this marine luminary, who totally impressed me as a person of vision. In respect to this grand old man of the seas, I expanded his title and embellished his vision. I mentioned that earlier colonialism featured culture clashes, while the open ocean was the next frontier for new resources, devoid of people. Well, whales live there, and there still is Greenpeace, but I’ve previously had decent relations with them. Where else could we find, in the tropical ocean—free to any nation—nutrient rich fluids available a few hundred meters below the surface, with deep ocean waters capable of combining with the warmer surface fluids to generate OTEC power to bring this pathogen free nourishment into the photic (where the sun shines) zone to trigger new growth in marine biomass and seafood. Green chemicals, strategic metals, biopharmaceuticals, biofuels, fertilizer and more could be produced.

But my forays into the Old Continent proved futile and nothing happened. I like to think, however, that some of the seeds might still sprout and it will only be a matter of time when a new Columbus will discover the open ocean for colonization.
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The price of crude slipped to $114.67/barrel. Predictably, the DJI rose, 48 to 11,782.
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Tropical Depression Kika went west and is no longer a threat to Hawaii. Hurricane Hernan is now a Tropical Storm, with winds at 70 MPH. It continues to move westward on a path that will take it south of Hawaii, and should weaken over the next couple of days. However, Hernan could then strengthen again and impact Hawaii in about a week.
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