Blain’s Morning Porridge, June 8 2022: World Ocean Day – If We Look After Them, They Will Look After Us!
“We are in reach of a whole new relationship with the ocean, a wiser, more sustainable relationship. The choice lies with us.”
This morning: Its World Ocean Day – without the oceans we would not exist. We’re finally waking up to the reality of how oceans regulate and benefit the planet. We are learning to treat them better, yet there is so much more they could provide.
It’s WORLD OCEAN DAY – and to celebrate the photo today is a gang of us who went for a swim in the Hamble River this morning. Open Water Swimming is a truly excellent way to start the day! Makes me feel more alive than anything! We all share this blue planet, our one ocean and the climate – it connects us all. Go for a swim today – for without the oceans we would simply not exist.
(As an aside, She-who-is-Mrs-Blain and I looked at building a swimming pool as part of the Blain Manor rebuild – but; let’s be honest; how many times would we have used it? A few strokes end to end or a place to drink cocktails? Instead, I have the best swimming pool on the planet: a River which leads to the Ocean. And don’t worry about the bugs and “organics” in the river…. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger!)
I’ve been massively fortunate having a passion for sailing and a rewarding career as a financier. I only wish I could connect them more – maybe I can. I’ve had the luck and opportunity to sail in many of the World’s oceans, but I’ve experienced first-hand plastic pollution in the seas. (I caught a discarded fishing net on my keel late one night in a gale – unpleasant.) I’ve sailed through the shipping lanes and been disgusted by the sulphurous stench and yellow haze left by dirty fuels.
In recent years things have been getting better.
There are seals back in our river, dolphins in the Solent and the yellow haze on the horizon of the English Channel is getting less prominent. It’s all about education and understanding. Now we know just how important the oceans are. Keeping them clean, nurturing them, protecting them – it’s all part of the common-sense approach to our shared environment.
There is nothing to deny about the importance of Ocean vitality. At its simplest level I love fish – and I don’t care how you serve them! But, unless we shepherd the oceans, they just won’t be available anymore. If the ocean currents and gyres collapse because of rising temperatures, the global effects won’t just be climate and sea-level related. The ocean’s ability to regulate the planet and absorb CO2 is critical. Kill the oceans and we’re all dead. That’s a fact – not deniable speculation.
Over the past few years I’ve been looking at market driven solutions to aspects of Ocean Health.
I’ve examined systems to clean rivers – most ocean plastic is disgorged into the oceans from just a small number of rivers in Asia – to a fascinating robotic wave powered system dragging a beach around the oceans to collect plastic while leaving sea life unharmed. I wish I could have financed them, but no matter how many plastic bottles have gone into the construction of my new solid paddleboard – these things need passion, belief and philanthropy to fund. (If any philanthropists reading the Porridge have a care, then get in touch!)
The ocean plastic crisis is very real, and as it breaks down into smaller and smaller micro-meter plastic molecules it will infest every part of our ecosystem. We know its happening – we are unsure of the consequences. We can address the pollution with education about waste and management, and we can invest in solutions. I am currently financing a major petrochemicals project, (not producing any fuel), and we are putting recyclable plastics, plastic recycling and recovery at the centre of its long-term growth objectives – looking to create ocean-clean up businesses around the new plant.
I also think we’re neglecting the potential of the oceans. It seems mad to me we’re destroying swathes of littoral shoreline and sea-floor to build more and more windfarms to exploit the air, but ignoring the water! We are not even scratching the surface when it comes to the utterly reliable tides streams all around the UK that could be harnessed to create clean, truly renewable energy.
Today it costs about 5 times as much as wind to create tidal energy. That’s because the technology is unproven. Its experimental and new. The problem is putting anything into sea-water is difficult: it immediately starts to corrode, and it becomes prime real estate for every kind of ocean creature and sea life. The solution is regular maintenance and cleaning, which adds to the cost.
But, if we crack that problem by making ocean power simple from the operations and management perspective, then Tidal and Wave Energy would be a winner over Wind. It would also be far more efficient for national power grids – utterly reliable and predictable energy rather than the intermittent energy wind and solar provide. If Tidal were to cost twice as much as wind, it would be long-term cheaper and more efficient when the grid is taken into perspective.
If we build tidal energy it will quickly get cheaper, more efficient, easier to maintain and could swiftly outpower Wind.
Wave energy could be at least as reliable as wind, and far less intrusive – if we would simply take the time to develop it. Even in the UK, our island set in our sunlit sea, we fail to grasp the free energy all around us – preferring to invest billions in solar farms. Thinks about that – its basically insane a sea-girt nation where you know it’s about to rain because it’s not raining yet is investing more in Solar Power than the sea!
The allocation of capital towards renewables is seriously distorted by the concepts of ease of investment, and difficulty of delivery. The Wind lobby successfully launched windfarms. They got the breakthrough investment. As windfarms caught the environment renewable vibe they were able to provide bulk investment opportunities. As the need for institutional investors to demonstrate and prove their green and ESG investment credentials increased, wind and solar farms get all the money because they are easy.
Ocean power is difficult, but much, much better.
Sadly it reminds me of the old VHS vs Betamax debate. They were competing video recording technologies in the 1980s. Betamax was better and more compact. VHS won because it achieved mass adoption faster, but soon disappeared because better quality DVDS were innovated because VHS quality was so poor. Maybe the same thing will happen to wind?
Tomorrow, I promise a proper market analysis… but today it just kind of made sense to write about the Oceans..
One thing to read this morning:
Out of time, very late, and back to the day job..