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Monday, November 9, 2015

GAWA Day #54: 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BLUE REVOLUTION

This is a travel day from Amsterdam back to the USA, so I thought I would reminisce, pardon the shift in tenses, about how well the Blue Revolution has evolved since the end of this century.  Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity a hundred years ago.  Science has made incredible strides since then.

Yes, we have confirmed the Higgs Boson and Apple soon hopes to sell its billionth iPhone. Four and a half million people catch a plane every day and scientists have found the genetic switch in lab mice to reverse the aging process.  A matter of time before we will be able to stop growing old.

Yet, when you consider that Stanley Kubrick's 2001 was released in 1968, and nearly half a century later there are only a few half-baked ideas about visiting Mars, you get the idea that monumental changes in our lifestyle influenced by revolutionary ideas requiring cost-effective technology  are something else again.

Looking at the right column, for example, I've been directly and personally involved with the full range of sustainable energy options my whole career going back to 1962 when I became a biomass engineer with C. Brewer at the Hutchinson Sugar Company in the Southernmost Point of the United States.  Do the math and you find that these green options make up 2% of the energy used today, and almost half of that happens to be developing societies burning wood for cooking.

So let us fantasize a bit and travel to the year 2091, the 100th anniversary of the Blue Revolution.  The population of the world has reached 10 billion.  My population projection  failed because no calamities occurred.  Commercial fusion is speculated to be fifty years away--a wild guess that has not changed for more than a century--and Man or Woman has not yet landed on Mars...and survived.

What has happened, though, is that the so-called next frontier for economic development, the open oceans, actually occurred, spurred by the activities of Blue Revolution Hawaii.  There are 200 major floating complexes--mostly cities, but a few industrial centers--grazing our oceans, each with an average population of a million.  Thus, 2% of Humanity now ply the ocean in sustainable systems which are, actually, enhancing the environment.

Half of them circle the globe once/year.  They tend to follow the natural ocean currents, but complementary motive force comes from the surface and deep ocean effluents, although sails are also used.

About time, but traditional farms are more and more being criticized for being net negative for carbon dioxide and energy production.  We still use fertilizers, machines that haven't quite been weaned away from fossil fuels and truck/fly products to market.  Ocean commodities are net positive (meaning that carbon dioxide is reduced and the energy value of consumed products is higher than the energy going in to produce and transport the items).  For one, ocean transport, for which roads are not necessary, and wind-powered ships, are now dominant, and far more efficient than terrestrial systems.

There are no more hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones because the artificially upwelled power source called ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) has decreased the surface temperature of warm spots sufficiently that these horrific storms do not anymore occur.  As global warming heated our seas, hurricanes got more powerful, and the several trillion dollar subsequent damage triggered an acceleration of the Blue Revolution.  New Orleans is returning to normal and the area around Miami is being considered for restoration into a New Venice.  The Greenhouse Effect rose sea levels to the point where, in combination with hurricanes, South Florida largely became a natural disaster area.

Global warming also has been curtailed through conversion to the renewables, plus a couple of geoengineering activities that seem to be working.  One, of course, is the Blue Revolution, but enhancement of the process through the addition of iron has made a measurable difference in finally checking global temperatures to the point where sea level rise has plateaued.  To the left a controversial sulfate reflective concept which could be abandoned.

Most of these floating complexes started relatively small, but expanded by following these two patterns.  Thus, there is dynamic stability, easy mobility and protection from ocean storms.  The largest is now up to 10 million people with three rings circling the spirals.

Thus, the Blue Revolution has:
  • restored the seafood balanced with next generation fisheries, and provided hatcheries for whales and other declining species,
  • remediated global warming through artificial upwelling and absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • checked global sea level rise and ocean acidification
  • while allowing for certain storms to bring rains to terrestrial areas, generally prevented the formation of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons
  • found a substitute for beef steaks:  whale shark meat, where the fish is raised in carbon neutral fashion
  • developed genetic grain strains which can be grown in sea water, where the deep ocean water effluent provides the natural fertilizer  (of course, there is no drought on the open ocean)
  • doubled the production of grape/wine production by having two crops/year where growth conditions are controlled by adjusting root temperatures
  • habitats with controlled climate conditions, for the cool from the deep ocean water is used for air conditioning
  • marine biomass plantations are producing feedstock for the production of biofuels for exportation
  • similarly, hydrogen through electrolysis is another biofuel for the coming hydrogen economy
What are the negative impacts of the Blue Revolution?
  • people still think that the whale shark is a whale, which it is not
  • there are now more than 400 members of the United Nations, nearly half at sea
  • the lack of hurricanes has affected farming and water availability here and there
If anything, much of the above is too utopian.  Ten major ocean complexes might well be optimistic.  There are too many retarding factors to anything revolutionary.  It will take a team of billionaires to stimulate the beginning, for companies and national governments don't have the will and imagination to take the first few steps.  Insurance companies could play a role.  

Once the Blue Evolution becomes a Revolution, however, the attractive economics, stimulated by the menace of global warming, with bigger hurricanes, sea level rise and general desperation will rather quickly, I think, gain momentum from the shipbuilding capabilities of China, South Korea and Japan.  The latter, in particular, has everything to gain from the Blue Revolution.  200 floating cities by 2091? Maybe.

Oh, by the way, I'm back in the USA as I send this posting.

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