Guest article —

A Nation Adrift

by Ralph Cerchione

The following article is reprinted here with permission from Ralph Cerchione, from his blog at LiVEJOURNAL. 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, Belgian architect 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, as necessary.

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.

Ralph Cerchione


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