The following article is reprinted here with permission from Ralph Cerchione,
from his blog at
Ralph has been a friend of Dr. Win Wenger for close to 20 years.
Some readers may already be aware of Dr. Win Wenger's
call for the development of oceanic fish farming to fight world hunger --
effectively doubling global production of protein for relatively low capital
costs. You may also be aware of his
more recent efforts
in that direction. But you may not be aware of how many other individuals
and organizations are also working towards very similar goals. For example,
Vincent Callebaut has designed the city
Lilypad, a "floating ecopolis for ecological refugees."
This concept may owe
something to the similar if less elegant
Mer city design, but clearly Callebaut has brought his own distinctive
artistic vision to the project.
But these are hardly the only efforts underway. Those familiar with Michael
Savage's book The Millennial Project will remember that developing floating
cities in the ocean with associated fish farming was part of his eight-step plan
for colonizing space, and the
Living Universe Foundation (forums
here) and the more recent
Millennial Project 2.0 are both dedicated to that vision. Other, independent
groups such as the
Seasteading Institute (community
here) are also working towards the colonization of the seas.
Perhaps most impressively, the vast corporation
Google has patented a design for ocean data centers. Not only do sea-based
data centers have a power advantage when using seawater to cool their systems (a
major cost), but the founders of Google have famously declared their intention
to help solve the world's energy crisis -- a natural interest, given their
company's enormous electrical demands and its complete dependence on the
Internet. Surely the prospect of OTEC-derived power (created using the
difference between surface and deep ocean waters) could only heighten their
interest in such an oceangoing project.
Indeed, given the presently unstable state of affairs on land, some exceedingly
wealthy investors might well be interested in having a sustainable retreat at
sea... one capable of handling its own food, electricity and communications,
while remaining in touch with the outside world, or able to drift clear of it,
Still, on a more mundane note, simple, land-based aquaponics remains a very
promising option in its own right, as can be seen in the work of
this high-school-based, model aquaponics project in eastern Tennessee:
At the Alternative Farming Center, students
raise tilapia, a warm water edible fish, and koi, a water garden fish, in a
9,000 square foot facility. Water garden plants are grown on top of the
water, hanging baskets flourish overhead, and bedding plants are raised on
rolling tables over the fish. Hydroponic tomatoes, green peppers, and
cucumbers are produced in the raceways, while hydroponic lettuce is also
grown directly over the fish. The facility is heated and cooled via a
geothermal system that maintains the required temperature of the
90,000-gallon facility. Using this alternative energy source ensures minimum
maintenance and operating costs. The closed-loop water circulation system
within the facility also eliminates environmental pollution as no discharge
of water is required. Water intake to replace lost water due to evaporation
is approximately 200 gallons per day.
Ideal growing conditions are maintained within the greenhouses, allowing
hydroponic crops to be raised in approximately half the time of conventional
farming. Students harvest 250 to 300 heads of Salina bibb lettuce weekly as
well as 40 to 60 pounds of tomatoes. The tilapia grow to approximately 1.5
pounds in one year, making them market ready in a relatively short time. The
school presently harvests over 25,000 pounds of tilapia per year.
Whatever course you may take, my readers, on land or sea, may there be clear
skies before you and fair winds ever at your backs.