A Nation Adrift

by Ralph Cerchione
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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 and the more recent Millennial Project 2.0 are both dedicated to that vision. Other, independent groups such as the Seasteading Institute 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:

In the Alternative Farming Center, students raise tilapia, a warm water-food fish, in multiple raceways housed in the 9,000 square-foot facility  Bedding plants are grown on rolling “water beds”  over the fish. Hydroponic cucumbers and lettuce are produced beside the raceways. Hanging baskets, raised over head, take in nutrients from the fish water, particularly nitrogen, which can be a detriment to the fish and returns the water with less nitrogen and more oxygen, thus benefiting both fish and the plants.

Koi, a water garden fish along with goldfish are also raised in the center. We are proud of our ability to process our tilapia ready for our costumers to cook. Being USDA certified, we sale ready-to-cook tilapia to customers year round.

In this “school-based work development” environment, students are able to take the academic skills learned in science, mathematics, chemistry, and English and apply them in our hydroponics, greenhouse, and aquaculture classes in everyday applications that make sense. They are also taking the training which they have learned in business and marketing and further developing it in the program with practice in public relations, economic development, and job skill training. These students are truly learning agriculture for the twenty-first century.

Johnson County FFA

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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