Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The rise of Captain NIMO--Not In My Ocean

NIMBY has a new cousin, he's called NIMO (Not In My Ocean).

NIMO is showing up wherever someone plans to save the world by doing something in the ocean. And just like Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, our Captain NIMO wears a nice costume, green and glorious, and he has plans to save the world. But NIMO can be just as difficult as his cousin NIMBY.

NIMO's not all bad. Just like NIMBY, he can help prevent some bad things from happening. But NIMO and NIMBY have a blind spot; to them, everything is bad if it's happening in their neighborhoods.

As an ocean lover, I hate to say it, but we can't afford to listen to Captian NIMO. As we move into a world of unknowns, caused by the massive global experiment of increasing CO2, we have to consider ocean solutions. We've already engineered our world by accident, and we can't rule out engineering if we want to fix the problem. If someone comes up with a good ocean idea for getting rid of CO2 in the ocean, we can't afford to reject it just by saying NIMO (not in my ocean).

Things are not looking good. Centuries of burning fossil fuels have us behind the 8-ball. Climate science is grim and getting grimmer. We're producing CO2 FASTER than the worst-case scenario contemplated by the last IPCC report. We can't afford to say the ocean is off limits. Nothing is truly off limits if we want to try to stop the CO2 increase. But, how can we tell a good idea from a bad one? They're all unknown and scary. I don't think simple principles like NIMO are the answer here.

So what is on the table that's scaring NIMO?

Maybe we should pour iron into our oceans in hopes of capturing CO2 into plankton that sinks and saves the world from global warming. Or perhaps we should dump carbon directly into our oceans, to keep it out of the atmosphere? Maybe we should develop our oceans for green energy, using wind, waves and currents to make electricity.

Is there something worth considering here? Maybe. They would all be big experiments, but one or more of them might be a partial answer. Are they any worse that letting the current CO2 increase continue? We won't know unless we consider them.

Yeah, Planktos seems to have a half-baked plan. And Cape Wind isn't good enough for the man from Nantucket. But we are going to do SOMETHING about CO2, right?

NIMO says "hell no, Not In My Ocean" and that seems irresponsible to this ocean advocate. If our answer to solving the CO2 problem is NIMO and NIMBY and NOMH and NOPE and even BANANA (see below), then we better get used to loving CO2.

So I think NIMO needs to join his cousin NIMBY in the closet, where they belong. Next to their other cousins NOTE (Not Over There Either), NOPE (Not On Planet Earth), NOMH "gnome" (Not On My Horizon), and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody). (Thanks Steven Connors of MIT, see slide 5).


Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark, for helping us paint your colleagues as unreasonable. That'll come in handy as we continue to externalize costs, and inflate profits by pumping our waste CO2 into your environment, while ignoring renewable alternatives and conservation.

For-profit Utilitites and other Carbon-sources in favor of Keeping Inefficient Technology ALLways

Mark Powell said...

Do you think the ocean should be off limits to engineering schemes like carbon sequestration, anonymous? If so, why?

Our oceans are being engineered right now by CO2 increase, so "don't touch the ocean" is already out of date. The problem is already in your ocean, anonymous, and building a fence with NIMO won't save the ocean.

Anonymous said...

The oceans affected by naval and merchant ships operating and sailing the seas back and forth should have been the hottest topic in the debate on climate change since meteorology was established as a science in the late 19th century. Instead of that, oceans were ignored up to the late 20th century and not even today do they enjoy the significant position they deserve. Oceans are a decisive climatic force, the second after the sun.
I emphasize with the idea that Naval War had a great impact in the climate change. I suggest visiting this thesis

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