Written By: Jim Greenberg
Life Is Change
President John F. Kennedy said that “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” One need only consider the fall of the Soviet Union, rise of the internet, or social turmoil now sweeping the Middle East to see concrete evidence of the accuracy of the President’s words. How then does this admonition apply to our planning for the world’s future energy needs?
A respected credible figure speaking to this question has been James Schlesinger. Having served Presidents from both parties, including as the first Secretary of Energy, Schlesinger has no political axe to grind. He has also served the country’s national security interests as CIA Director, and has oil industry insider information through his role on Board’s of Directors for several oil companies. Bottom line: what he says, you can take to the bank, including the fact that
“Large conventional oil production is increasingly no longer part of the future, unless there is a technological breakthrough raising the ultimate recovery rate from existing fields, which at this moment, we cannot expect.”
Putting the future of oil more bluntly, Schlesinger said, “If something cannot be sustained, it eventually will not be sustained.”
There is no doubt that the oil industry has served as the global foundation for growth and sustenance in the past. To a large degree, it continues to do so in the present. But it cannot for our long-term future. Only renewable energies can fit that bill. Change is the law of life. We trust that the following articles will provide a glimpse into a brighter energy future in which Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) brings substantial benefits in four major areas: economic, international security, humanitarian and environmental.
We all know the truth and wisdom of the old adage, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” The compelling corollary is that when we learn the lessons of the past, we must use them for the collective good in the future. This point is driven home by Nancy Pfund (Founder & Managing Partner, DBL Investors) and Benjamin Healey (Research Affiliate, Yale Center for Business and the Environment), who undertook an extensive historical analysis of the growth of major U.S. energy industries: timber, coal, oil & gas, and nuclear. Describing their findings in the Huffington Post, Pfund and Healey write that “every great expansion in the American economy can be linked to the discovery of a new energy source.”
With 85% of the sun’s energy stored in surface waters of the world’s seas, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), which is proven to provide baseload 24/7 clean electricity, holds great promise to be that new energy source. And with one U.S. company already beginning the commercialization of OTEC globally, history teaches us that supporting OTEC is one sure way to fuel the next great American economic expansion.
National & International Security
In recognition of the fact that how we choose to spend our money may have significant moral implications, the United Nations and later, the United States, took actions to support the divestment campaign leading to the ultimate collapse of the South African system of Apartheid in the 1990s. The nexus between dollars spent and the degree to which we contribute to either social good or social evil, hasn’t changed much in the last twenty years. And according to former U.S. CIA Director James Woolsey, today’s monetary moral imperative is seen clearly in the global oil market.
Interviewed for The Daily Beast on the topic of national security and oil dependency, Woolsey emphatically stated, “The heart of the matter is oil…(which) finances institutions like the Saudi Wahhabi schools around the world that teach little boys murderous hatred of Shiite Muslims, Jews, homosexuals, apostates…Americans, and the terrible oppression of women. And it helps fund murderous dictators around the world. We need to stop using oil, not just imported oil but oil, period, in order to move away from that kind of thing.”
Anywhere Is Everywhere
Woolsey’s observations capture the plain fact that demand for oil anywhere in the world, inflates global oil prices everywhere. The end result is more money in the bank accounts of the very “educational institutions” that Woolsey describes. However, with the emerging global commercialization of the clean energy generated by Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), we now have another alternative allowing us to put our money toward a safer world.
Humanitarian: Water Needs Worldwide
When Needs Are Rights
According to Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General, “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and therefore a basic human right.” In recognition of this tenet, the UN Human Rights Council in 2010 adopted by consensus a resolution affirming that
“the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity.”
And as with all basic human rights, their fulfillment is partly dependent upon the extent to which those of us already enjoying such rights can muster the means and will to lend a hand to those in need.
A Will And A Way
By virtue of the capacity of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) to produce voluminous quantities of fresh drinking water, we now possess the means to bring potable water to many needy regions across the globe. Every OTEC plant built will boldly move local residents toward independence by their own production of clean energy and fresh water. As the ancient proverb tells us, “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” We have the means. Now is our time to generate the will.
Healthy Oceans, Thriving Economies
On October 14, 2011, Stephen M. Coen, Ph.D., president and CEO of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., the parent organization of Mystic Aquarium, told a New York City audience that “The health of our oceans and water environments is critical to our economic well-being.” Citing several examples of this fact, Coen pointed out that
“Tourism is the second largest contributor to America’s GDP, and 85% of tourism is focused on our coastal regions. Last year, the Deepwater Horizon event devastated the tourism economies of four states.”
New York Shudders
Coen further explained that this same environmental/economic connection occurs globally: “The temperature of the oceans is in severe fluctuation…this is a planetary problem. Forty percent of the world’s population lives within a coastal zone…not just farms or villages…(but) what you see here in New York, Singapore, San Francisco and Hong Kong. More severe storms are going to lead to more severe flooding of those areas, destroying homes and businesses and wreaking economic havoc…I shudder to think what would have happened if Hurricane Irene had not downgraded to a tropical storm, stayed on its predicted path and hit this city with full hurricane force.”
Ending on an optimistic note, Coen reached the ironic conclusion we can help to protect the health of the world’s oceans, by tapping into their sustainable resources: “We must focus on exploration of the deep-ocean environment…(which) has abundant natural resources that can be used for energy, food and medicine, to name a few.” Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), by producing clean energy, potable water, and sustainable aquaculture, is now poised to meet Coen’s challenge.
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