Like most grand endeavors, the Blue Revolution will not just happen overnight. There has already been some success on land, as the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is doing very well with deep ocean potable water (through reverse osmosis). Japan has ten such deep ocean fluid facilities and products are blossoming.
But what of the future in the deep ocean? It can be projected that The Blue Revolution will occur, but maybe more slowly than earlier anticipated. Japan and Korea, the two largest shipbuilders can justify using their shipyards because they have very little natural resources and the open ocean is available at no political cost. Japan, for example, has ten times more space in their Exclusive Economic Zone than on land, and Okinawa, like Hawaii, is marginally situated, but available, as an OTEC development site.
Japan is showing a bit more pioneering spirit than most, as the Mitsubishi Research Institute, Tokyo University and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology in 2005 reported that they will be placing 100 nets, controlled by a Global Positioning System, to produce 270,000 tons of seaweed/year to combat global warming. They hope to also produce methanol from the marine biomass. This has been termed the Apollo project, which is energy focused, relative to the Sunshine project, led by Toshitsugu Sakou, which spotlights ocean technology.
European seafaring nations might again consider colonization, this time the open ocean, where there are no obvious downsides, such as the sociological problems that came with the era after Columbus. One cannot guess what Greenpeace might do, but there are no native populations, not even whales, as permanent residents in the middle of the ocean around the equator.
Yes, if the Blue Revolution shows any kind of movement, there is no doubt that society will probably feel compelled to invoke another Law of the Sea marathon, this next one to adjudicate over who can use the open ocean. But one could say this is one way human systems progress. If these discussions dominate, then we might as well look towards the Blue Evolution. To the more enterprising, you thus only have a few years of freedom before some bureaucracy could get in your way.
Nonetheless, in time there will no doubt be a wide range of floating cities, marine amusement parks and grazing plantships for energy, environment and habitats. Then consider several hundred, no thousands, of these productive platforms. Current international law dictates that each, under certain circumstances, can legally become a nation. Imagine the United Nations in the 22nd Century.
Hawaii is particularly well positioned to take a leading role, one, because we thought up the whole thing. When President Ronald Reagan in 1983 proclaimed the national exclusive economic zone (EEZ), he doubled the jurisdictional area of the country, making Hawaii, in combined land-sea domain, the second largest state in the Union, twice as large as Texas, with its EEZ. Secondly, 80% of the American EEZ is located in the Pacific Ocean. Finally, the scope of the total project will be very large, and can most effectively be conducted as an international partnership. Where better to do this than in Hawaii.
After having hosted most of the conferences and workshops on the subject, an important initiative was taken in 2006 combining next generation fisheries with marine biofuels, linking the two through the recycle of wastes from the energy portion being fed to the fisheries loop as nutrients. The upwelled fluids from the OTEC process are much more concentrated in minerals than surface waters, but still insufficient to support higher trophic level feeders such as tuna. The program was led by the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research with national and international partners. Even Greenpeace and the Nature Conservancy were contacted for their participation, as the whole point to all this was to enhance the marine environment as well as develop sustainable products for humanity.
A simple solution for this movement is to find a benefactor. The Georgia Aquarium started with a gift of $250 million from Bernie Marcus, founder of The Home Depot, to the city of Atlanta. But this was only the leverage to entice BellSouth, Georgia-Pacific and a host other corporations, including from Coca-Cola, which donated the land. From first dollar to operation took all of four years.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute would not have happened had it not been for David Packard. An engineering graduate of Stanford University, he and classmate Bill Hewlett, started Hewlett-Packard in 1939, and went public in 1957, the year before I happened to be on the same floor with David Packard, Jr., who asked his Stanford freshmen dorm-mates to invest in his father’s company. If I had only done so I would today have been able to provide the funds for the Blue Revolution, as HP is now the largest technology vendor in the world, even bigger than IBM. It is reported that David Packard’s interest in the ocean can be traced to 1969 when as Deputy Secretary of Defense, he had oversight over the Glomar Explorer, which under the pretense of seabed mining, cloaked the secret recovery of a sunken Russian submarine in the Pacific, with Howard Hughes as a behind the scenes player. I came in on the tail end of that tale when I served as the Senate staff director of the Hard Minerals Act, a decade later.
As I would like the Blue Revolution to take hold in Hawaii, we need to first find this benefactor to finance the building of the Aquarium of the Pacific on a floating platform dynamically positioned off Honolulu, far enough offshore so that visual pollution detractors could only provide a weak argument, but close enough so tourists can be shuttled to the attraction. On the platform would be a resort-casino-complex and the headquarters for the Blue Revolution Institute to pioneer R&D in ocean resources, next generation fisheries and sustainable energy. I recall once discussing a floating casino for Hawaii with someone who said he represented Kirk Kerkorian, who now at the age of 92 is worth $15 billion. Only a billion dollars would be nice. The Blue Revolution legacy would be his.