environment problem solving

When Disaster Strikes, Send The Enterprise

Whenever a disaster happens here on Planet Earth, the first responders frequently come from the Military/National Guard. They have manpower, equipment, and financial resources to respond to the unexpected.

Today humanity’s greatest challenge is dealing with Mother Earth’s curveballs… Floods, Tsunamis, and Earthquakes can all dramatically upend the lives of affected people, anywhere on the planet.

Rather than throwing together a response to the disaster-du-jour (of the day), we should have ships on standby that are prepared and ready to lend assistance to the people who need it.


Cleaning Up the Gulf of Mexico

In June I formulated a plan to help clean BP’s oil from the Gulf of Mexico. To Save the Gulf, Send The Enterprise calls for using the U.S. Navy’s portable nuclear reactors to power air pumps for oxygenating ocean waters in the Gulf. Bacteria already present in the ocean use oxygen to consume whatever oil they encounter.

A lot of people really liked the idea. One commenter suggested that instead of blowing bubbles into the depths of the ocean, warm surface water could be oxygenated and pumped instead. Pumping air below a couple hundred feet would have required much more energy than pumping water.

When the oil volcano was gushing, the bubblers would have been concentrated in rings around the wellhead. BP’s well has now been capped, but there are still plumes of oil that need attention.

Mother nature will slowly take care of this task, but it will happen faster if the Navy is put on task. The fleet’s submarines are each powered by a portable nuclear reactor, and the Navy certainly has a few spare reactors sitting around.

Once most of the oil has been consumed, the pumps can be used to treat the ‘dead zone’ that appears at the mouth of the Mississippi river every summer:

Summer rains wash nutrients, dissolved organic matter and sediment out of the mouths of rivers, into the sea, sparking large phytoplankton blooms. …

Enhanced phytoplankton blooms can create dead zones. Dead zones are areas of water so devoid of oxygen that sea life cannot live there. If phytoplankton productivity is enhanced by fertilizers or other nutrients, more organic matter is produced at the surface of the ocean. The organic matter sinks to the bottom, where bacteria break it down and release carbon dioxide. Bacteria thrive off excessive organic matter and absorb oxygen, the same oxygen that fish, crabs and other sea creatures rely on for life.

Mississippi Dead Zone (emphasis added)

So what if it’s expensive? Wealth is created when people work to solve problems, doing research, building supplies and equipment. Wealth is squandered when people sit around unemployed.

This proposal is by no means complete, and a lot of research still needs to be done on how to best clean up the gulf. But we can start building and deploying compressors and pumps to treat the water today. Scientists and engineers will figure out the best ways use the equipment.

This project is more than a cleanup – it’s an investment in our future.


Some thoughts on insomnia

There’s a story up on slashdot about heavy sleepers. At one time I had trouble with sleeping, so I  posted a comment about how I enhanced my ability to fall asleep at night:

My memories of going to sleep as a child are of tossing and turning every night in bed.

My parents bought my brother a waterbed when he outgrew his twin bed. I thought I’d fall asleep quicker in a waterbed than my old mattress, so I pestered my parents endlessly until they relented and bought me a waterbed too. It didn’t help.

I learned about self-hypnosis, lucid dreaming, and “mental imagery” when I was 17 years old. One style of self-hypnosis calls for relaxing the physical body, then relaxing the mind. I was fascinated by the prospects of “internal senses”.

environment problem solving

To Save The Gulf, Send The Enterprise

The real Planet Earth has an ongoing situation that could use a ship of superheros like those in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek soap opera.

60+ days have passed since the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion and sinking. BP company engineers have been working continuously to stop the oil, but all efforts to plug the gusher in the gulf have failed. Efforts to contain the oil are ongoing, but the best case scenario calls for the well to run until the relief wells are completed in August.

In short, people are becoming aware that BP’s Big Problem in the Gulf of Mexico is probably the most epic environmental catastrophe of the past 1000 years.

If only the Enterprise was available to help.


Welcome to

I originally purchased some 7 years ago, when I was about to lose my longstanding email address. I didn’t put up a homepage until January 2009. After a year and a half of hand-coded webpages, I finally decided to switch to WordPress, a modern Content management system [CMS].

WordPress does all the work, and I just make some content. Should have done this years ago. 🙂