June 18, 2003
Saving Ocean Ecosystems While Making America Energy Independent
By Harry Braun
As vast as the oceans appear to be, the ancient and intricate ecological systems that lie below the surface are in the final stages of being pushed into extinction. They are being exterminated by a relentless armada of commercial fishing vessels that are hunting down the remaining fish and other marine organisms 24-hours a day with satellites, sonar and 50-mile long driftnets. Over 90 percent of the of the large commercial fish are now gone, and its not just the large fish that are being hunted into extinction. Ocean trawlers that use weighted nets operate like football-sized underwater bulldozers that are also devastating the very ocean habitats on the seabed floor that are needed to replenish the fish populations. Free market forces have utterly failed to protect the ocean ecosystems from this human-induced mass-extinction, and given the serious nature of the problem, the U.S. Navy and Air Force needs to be immediately deployed to help eliminate these on-going destructive fishing and chemical dumping practices.
On a more fundamental level, the U.S. needs to lead the world in implementing The Phoenix Project (phoenixproject.net), a multi-trillion dollar energy, economic and environmental plan to have the energy industry to shift from fossil and nuclear fuels to sea-based solar hydrogen production systems, such as Windships and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) ships, with wartime-speed (i.e., by 2010). The large-scale deployment of such systems would not only supercharge the economy by making the U.S. energy independent, but a critical sanctuary would be provided for the remaining fish and other marine organisms. Multi-Array "Windships," like the ones pictured below were developed by Professor William Heronemus, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who then served as a U.S. naval architect until his retirement in 1965. Multi-Array systems can also be deployed on land, but the Windships would be integrated with manned electrolytic hydrogen production facilities making hydrogen from the seawater, located in the submerged spheres that also serve to counterbalance the wind array.
OTEC systems use the solar-heated seawater near the surface of the oceans and the very cold water that is about 1,500 feet below the surface, to generate electricity. Because these elements are constant, OTEC systems can operate 24-houyrs a day, 7 days a week, regardless of weather conditions. And because the cold deep water is nutrient-rich, once it is brought to the surface, it can then react with the sunlight allowing the populations of fish and other sea life to explode. Even more amazing is the fact that once the cold water is used by the OTEC ship to condense the vaporized solar-heated sea water that is located near the surface, immense amounts of fresh water is produced as a by-product. As such, the deployment of these sea-based solar hydrogen energy systems fundamentally protect the ocean ecosystems from over-fishing and oil spills, and providing vast quantities pollution-free hydrogen, seafood and fresh water in the process. OTEC was initially conceived in the 1880s by the French physicist, d'Arsonval, and the first OTEC power plant was build on Cuba in the 1930s. The OTEC ship concept on the left below was developed in the 1980s by the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. The OTEC design on the right was developed by TRW, and other OTEC designs have developed by Grumman, Lockheed and the University of Hawaii. Note that all of the OTEC designs are characterized by a cold water pipe that is used to pump up the near freezing water found deep below the surface.
OTEC systems can also be integrated with Windship systems, as well as floating cities that would house universities, ocean industries and condominiums. Such renewable energy technologies underscore that it is indeed possible for humanity to have sustainable energy abundance while enhancing the earth's oceans and biological life-support systems in the process.
The Phoenix Project
The Phoenix Project initially requires Congressional Hearings that will lead to the passage of Fair Accounting Act legislation, which will eliminate subsidies to fossil and nuclear fuels and technologies and factor in the military and environmental costs of fossil and nuclear fuels. If a fair accounting system is used, solar-sourced hydrogen will be the least expensive fuel. As such, oil and other energy companies will rapidly shift their primary investments to building the fleets of Windships and OTEC ships, which are similar to oil tankers from a manufacturing perspective. Given that 90% of the global ocean ecosystem has been destroyed over the past 50 years, that means the remaining 10% of the fish and other marine organisms will be virtually exterminated within 3 to 5 years. This does not need to happen, but we are all like passengers on the Titanic, and we only have a limited amount of time to change course. For more information, contact the phoenixproject.net website or the Hydrogen Political Action Committee (H2pac.org) at (602) 977-0888.