President Obama has proclaimed in the lead up to the Paris COP21 meeting that the USA will honor its committment to reduce CO2 emissions of 26% by 2025.
This is a lofty but easy goal that we intend to carry out by 2020 as we work independently to restore America’s dying ocean pastures at a cost of about $5 million dollars per year!
The annual restoration of just a few ocean fish pastures offshore of Alaska, California, and the coast of New England will more than meet this 26% billion ton reduction of CO2 as America’s national target. Even better, by restoring and replenishing ocean pasture plankton to the condition of health and abundance of a century or more ago those revived fish pastures will produce and deliver into American fishermen’s nets and onto the plates of hungry Americans more than a billion additional fish every year, cod, salmon, all manner of ocean fish.
A fraction of a percent of the taxes collected on that bounty of fish would more than cover the cost required for America to become the world’s most caring stewards of its ocean pastures. And the best news is we don’t even need a single penny of tax payer money to accomplish the task of taking care of Mother Nature.
Here’s a real example of how it has already been proven to work!
IN 2012 my ocean pasture restoration project in the Gulf of Alaska helped restore salmon pastures in that region. But first a short history lesson is needed. My plan followed the dusty trail of a stunning observation of how Mother Nature works her miracles. In 2008 when the Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska erupted in mid-August for a few days a plume of volcanic dust from the violent eruption drifted to the south and east dusting parts of the NE Pacific in the Gulf of Alaska. The volcanos dust arrived very late in the ocean pasture growing season, rather like if you were to plant your vegetable garden in mid August you might well not expect much of a harvest from the late gardening effort.
Even late in the summer Kasatochi’s mineral rich dust had a profound effect and the ocean pasture turned from clearest blue to murky green. A rich abundance of ocean plant life, phytoplankton, flourished and bloomed right in the best place, the nursery and rearing pastures of Pacific salmon. It was by coincidence especially well-timed for the last of the Pacific salmon that go to sea each year, the sockeye of the Fraser River (the greatest sockeye salmon watershed of all). They are one of the stars of this story to be joined later by their cousins the Pink salmon.
The sockeye arrived in their ocean pasture that year in the vast numbers of baby salmon as per the usual but following Kasatochi’s dusting they swam into an ocean pasture returned to historic abundance and carrying capacity. As every farmer and rancher knows the amount of livestock that a pasture can support and sustain depends entirely on the health and abundance of the pasture. Those sockeye salmon would spend the next two years living in that rich pasture and destined to swim home in the late summer of 2012.
When 2012 arrived the salmon experts all agreed that the returning Fraser River sockeye were doomed to repeat what has become a common dismal number of 1-2 million fish swimming back from the 2 years at sea where they put on 95% of their body weight. The forecast was so dismal that the Canadian government had committed $35 million dollars to pay judges and lawyers to conduct a Royal investigation into the imminent possible extinction of the all important Sockeye Salmon. The pundits, judges, and salmon bureaucrats had not been paying attention to the ocean pasture as per normal.
While Canadian supreme court justice Cohen was holding court commanding the sworn testimony of all of the usual suspects in horrible annual fish disaster evidence telling of decades of worsening collapse something wonderful happened.
The fish came back! Not as a small number of extra salmon in the range of 10% which was within the fish punditocracy normal estimate error range but in vast numbers 30 times or 3000% more than projected, equal to the largest number of Fraser Sockeye in all of recorded history!
OK! Dust for the ocean will restore the plankton blooms… IT JUST WORKS! (Two earlier volcanic dustings of the NE Pacific in the past century delivered identical salmon miracles!)
The fact is that along with a small village of Indian people we had been planning our salmon restoration project in the NE Pacific Gulf of Alaska for many years. By the time I was ready and able to take myself and 11 Indians out to sea to carry out the work in the summer of 2012 we’d been working for 6 years with many Canadian government agencies/ministries to gather support and approvals. Funds and support were flowing in from Canada’s National Research Council to support extensive state of the art ocean science that would go along with the dusting work, federal economic guarantees were in place supporting the business plan, special access to, software, and training so we could make use of earth satellites was on our computers, and we had the blessing of the native people who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the project to try to bring back the fish.
IN July of 2012 on a tiny fishing boat loaded with half its normal cargo weight in iron rich dust, and having weathered the worst summer storm in history with hurricane force winds while heading to the key ocean fish pasture we started to replenish rich mineral dust, 100 tons in all, over an area of 10,000 sq. km. This is a rate of application of our dust that is less than 1/millionth the amount of fertilizer dust typically added to agricultural fields or lawns, an incredibly tiny amount. For ten days we laboured 24 hours per day mixing the dust one 50 lb bag at a time in 500 gallon mixing tanks on the deck of the boat while trickling the mix into the boats wake in what was no more than volume delivered by a garden hose.
Our pair of state of the art Slocum ocean robot gliders swam silently for weeks at a time diving deep and surfacing every two hours when they would transmit some of the extensive data they were gathering to us via satellite producing the most intensive survey of an ocean pasture before and after blooming ever collected.
We simultaneously deployed 20 Argus drifting satellite buoys that we’d agreed with the US National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration agency to deploy as part of our work that would also measure and transmit a constant stream of data via their satellite uplink. Onboard the boat with us we carried state of the art oceanographic equipment allowing us to plumb the depths of the ocean and conduct many plankton collecting net tows every day. All in all no ocean pasture plankton study in the history of science could hold a candle to our work.
So what happened. IT JUST WORKED!
There is a long and ongoing story of the project worthy of a Hollywood drama with good intentions mixed with villainous and avaricious individuals, highly place politicians and their kin, heads of state, SWAT team raids, and of course the world of so-called journalism who if they cannot find a story that bleeds to lead will create the blood themselves (my blood quite literally). But the sordid details are a story for another time. This is a story of hope! (You’ll find other fishy parts of this story on by blog.)
After a long wait of about a year the first salmon that might have benefitted from my work to restore their ocean pasture were expected to be the Pink Salmon of Alaska. The timing of my pasture bloom was spot on the perfect time to nourish and sustain the Alaska Pink salmon that spend two years at sea. When we got their pasture back into shape in July of 2012 there were a lot of Pink salmon who had been nurturing nearer to shore in their first year of life and needed to go offshore to feed and mature.
Predictions based on the numbers seen in the near shore waters and consistent with the historical huge losses of those fish as they struggle to survive offshore were that the catch in Alaska in 2013 would be some 50 million Pink salmon. In fact the largest number of Pink salmon in all of history swam home from my ocean pasture that year and 226 million were caught.
The state of Alaska now declares that the additional revenue generated by that historic catch amounted to tens of billions of dollars spread amongst the fishers, processors, sellers, suppliers, everyone benefitted. IT JUST WORKED!
But how about those Sockeye salmon of the Fraser River.
Sockeye salmon spend two years out on distant ocean pastures and the Fraser River Sockeye are known to cohabit with the Alaska Pinks. So 2014 would be the year of the Fraser Sockeye if we managed a second salmon miracle. In the summer of 2014 salmon forecasters were predicting a large run of the beautiful red Sockeye perhaps numbering in the range of 3-5 million fish. To the amazement of all when the fish came back they came in numbers 30 million strong. It seems that Mother Nature’s Kasatochi volcano was better than her well-meaning upstart son, Russatochi’s hand dusted volcano, but my results were not bad for a first try at helping Mother Nature.
It is now very clear that the dearth of ocean science regarding ocean pastures has led to a thorough misunderstanding of ocean pasture ecology. This is surely largely the result of the fact that those who become “ocean scientists” want to engage in the fun and sexy and high paying ocean science doing meaningless macho things like building deep diving ocean extreme sports cars like Jim Cameron’s $40 million dollar dive the become the deepest diving human on earth a couple of years ago. Now that’s something a ‘real man’ ocean scientist can dream about not working in cold stormy seas up to their necks in plankton slime in scenes from my project that look all the world like an episode of televisions “Most Dangerous Catch.”
Climate Change & World Hunger
This world has more than a few monumental tasks before it if we humans are to prove our worth as more than conquerors and slavers of nature. One is of course the issue of fossil CO2 which has become more for marketing reasons than scientific sense “climate change.” Another is “world hunger.” Since this is a blue planet where 72% of the planet is covered in oceans and 99% of all living habitat (by volume) is in the oceans it ought to be logical that the place to look first for both problems and solutions regarding our CO2 is to the oceans. If you think this way your are absolutely correct!
The oceans have demonstrated, albeit diminished, capacity to adapt to CO2 and manage it very well. They do this by using plant life and photosynthesis to convert CO2 from its dangerous concentrations into more ocean life. I know from my success in restoring my ocean pasture in 2012 in the Gulf of Alaska that many hundreds of millions of additional fish were nourished and sustained, most likely the total counting all species was more than a billion additional fish thrived and survived. Historic records for many species in the are confirm this. To grow this many additional fish we can do the math (and have the hard data to back that math up) and calculate that more than a billion tonnes of CO2 was captured and converted into life in my replenished ocean fish pasture.
Living and Learning
I’ve learned an incredible amount from the experience of working to help Mother Natures ocean pastures and having the luxury of access to the best state of the art scientific resources along the way. While I have been digesting and considering what I have learned I have identified perhaps 20 perfect ocean pasture restoration locations around the world where ocean fish pastures are in a terrible but restorable state. All of these ocean pastures in need are far out to sea 300 miles or more from the nearest land, far into the world of the high seas neither owned, claimed, nor cared for by any nation on this blue planet. These pastures will come back to life and to productivity levels equal to the most ideal condition in human history with what amounts to the expenditure of less than a million dollars per pasture. The iron ore rock dust they require will cost under $50,000 per year! Boat still burn fuel and shipmates need to be fed so most of the cost is in the boat and taking care of the people who might be willing hard working shipmates.
As for President Obama’s pledge that the USA will meet his goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 1 billion tons per year by 2025 I can and will do far better both in terms of time and money and of course fish, that is my intention. In the NW Atlantic ocean no crisis there is more obvious than the dramatic loss of the once prolific Atlantic Codfish. In spite of draconian reductions in commercial fishing for the Atlantic Cod that began in the late 1980’s the COD have continue their cataclysmic decline. It’s clear that 25 years of rigours prevention of overfishing has worked. This is because the Atlantic Cod pastures have become dying blue deserts.
We in the ocean science community know very well where the most critical and vital COD nursery and growing pastures are. For a trivial cost one or more of the key Atlantic Cod pastures can be sustainably cared for, restored and replenished. And it’s not just cod stocks that will be replenished other key fish like menhaden and swordfish along with countless birds and mammals with share in the bounty of ocean life. In doing this billions of additional Atlantic Cod that we will nourish and sustain, as I have demonstrated in Alaska, will deliver and sustain an economic bonanza of tens of billions of dollars a year for the economies of the coastal states within a matter of just a few years. In the bargain more than the billion tonnes of CO2 that is required to diminish the USA CO2 emission burden by 25% will become ocean life!
Off the West Coast of America ocean fish populations are in similar state of collapse as in the Atlantic. Small pelagic fish like anchovy, herring, mackerel are all but gone. Larger species like tuna are in big trouble. Critical ocean pastures needing our help today have sustainable restoration plans in the works. Naturally a return to the Gulf of Alaska and neighboring regions of the North Pacific are in the restoration ships charted course. Those along with additional dying ocean pasture to the south that are in our plans to restore and replenish will together return the Eastern Pacific to a historic condition of health and abundance.
Naturally Pacific states can expect to see their fishing and related industries rejuvenated as they earn their share of tens of billions of dollars generated by bringing the fish back. Restoration of ocean pastures in all of the World’s Seven Seas will likely generate a trillion dollars in economic development every year. What could be better a trillion dollar carbon tax or a trillion dollars in new income for the world’s coastal nations.
About ending world hunger.
As evidence of the potency of bringing the fish back to helping to end hunger one only need look to the concrete evidence that has resulted from the miracle of our restored 2012 salmon pasture. The US Department of Agriculture has now made many purchases of nearly $100 million dollars of the “surplus salmon” from the bountiful catch of 2013. Those USDA purchases amount to hundreds of millions of meals of nutritious salmon they have been sending to children in American who would otherwise go hungry. As the 20 or so ocean fish pastures I have identified as most in need and most likely to respond immediately to our loving restoration within a very few years we can provide all the fish the world can eat, not ending world hunger with fish but surely helping in a very big way.
Further reading with extensive references are to be found on my blog, (hint see the search box).