THE BLOG
03/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Blue Revolution

A few months ago, my Huffington Post article on "The Dawn of the Blue Revolution" reported on the potential the ocean provided for humanity. The world has been wrestling with the economic collapse and worried about the dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming. Almost never is the ocean recognized as part of the solution. The surface of our globe has two and a half times more water than land. Surely, then, greater consideration should be given to this largely ignored and mostly protected portion of our planet.

To quote from the above posting:

In my 2003 Bruun Memorial Lecture to UNESCO in Paris, I proposed that the United Nations take a leading role in galvanizing Project Blue Revolution. There are important Law of the Sea and international political issues to be considered. There are today only 192 countries forming the UN. Someday, perhaps, a thousand OTEC-powered Blue Revolution platforms, each a nation in itself, could well be plying our oceans, providing clean and sustainable resources for Humanity in harmony with the ocean environment.

Well, the thought of a thousand new nations is disarming at best, but noteworthy because of the potential immensity of the promise.

Not too long ago we had the romance of space with Star Wars and the Apollo Project. But each NASA shuttle shot costs about a billion dollars, the same amount as the U.S. Department of Energy has annually spent over the past decade to develop renewable energy. We can keep contemplating the sky, but the reality is on Earth, and, more specifically, our seas.

Where else can we turn to for next generation clean energy technologies, green materials, exciting new habitats and more seafood? The ocean, of course, and three recent developments have particularly caught my attention.

First, I have never met him, but initiated some virtual dialogue with Patri Friedman, self-professed poker authority, who left Google to help form the Seasteading Institute (as opposed to homesteading on land). Funding was received from billionaire Peter Andreas Thiel, chess-master and co-founder of PayPal. My only connections with them are that we all went to Stanford University and have the belief that our oceans provide a hope for our future. They are dissatisfied with the current civilization and want to build a new and better one on the high seas. Their goal is to form new nations as seatopias.

Second, the Blue Revolution was trademarked (77/452663) to spur the concept, which is similar to seasteading, except the latter is a whole new society, while the former is a focus on the technical aspects of optimizing a system powered by ocean thermal energy conversion to support a floating city or industrial complex, with next generation fisheries, marine biomass plantations for biofuels, hydrogen, green chemicals and materials and freshwater, while remediating global warming and preventing the formation of hurricanes. Corporate interest has been expressed to carry on the effort.

The third blip of activity is the Japanese Ocean Sunrise Project. The chairman of the group, Toshitsugu Sakou, last week passed on to me their final report on "Seaweed Bioethanol Production in Japan." Unfortunately, both volumes were in Japanese. However, the journal paper he gave me reported that their aim is to produce seaweed (a brown macroalgae) bioethanol by farming in the Exclusive Economic Zone of their country. They don't quite say that the ocean can produce all the fuel necessary for the world, but they did mention that the theoretical limit of terrestrial cellulose was such that only 18% of transport needs could be met. Clearly was the implication that the ocean can much better meet the full challenge.

As land-based societies attempt to cope with economic, social, political, environmental and assorted other problems, the notion of a totally new initiative to do it better this next time seems enticing at sea. Someday we will explore the stars, but for the next few centuries the ocean is our only new frontier for progress.