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A vaguely similar idea here is called "Mid-sea Rehab
Conservatory," but is too limited and begins with the false
assumption that oceanic dead zones are mostly human
caused. Actually, many parts of the ocean have low
biomass because they lack many of the major nutrients
needed to sustain the
growth and primary production (i.e.,
photosynthesis) of phytoplankton, on which most other life
ultimately feeds. Ironically, while life began in the oceans,
nutrients have a tendency to sink down to the bottom via
gravity, away from the surface where photosynthesis can
occur, so bottom life consists of scavengers and
carnivores, not primary producers. Ocean primary
production is high only in areas with shallow water--
continental shelves and coral reefs. It was only after life
moved onto land, where the nutrients of dead organisms
remain on the surface, that primary production, and hence
biomass, could take on high values per unit area.
Rather than a specific proposal, this is an invitation for
suggestions. If money was no object, how could we
increase global primary production and hence biomass?
(Of course, if the methods for this are not too expensive,
it could partly be paid for by our ability to harvest for food
some of the new life that otherwise wouldn't exist). This
would be useful to counteract some of the human-caused
loss of species diversity and habitat elsewhere in the
world. Obviously irrigating desert areas on land is one
possibility, and to some extent we've been doing this for
years in limited areas. But can non-productive ocean
areas be salvaged? Can we simply fertilize them with ships
scattering the needed nutrients as a powder? Use pumps
to bring deep-sea nutrients back to the surface? Some
kind of inexpensive but semi-rigid structures floating on
the water surface, or just under it, which marine
organisms can attach themselves to or feed off off,
catching the nutrients that would otherwise sink and be
lost to the photic zone? Are there other possibilities I'm
not thinking of here? Unleash your imaginations.
||//Are there other possibilities I'm not thinking of
||Are there potential annotations I could be making
||// Rather than a specific proposal, this is an invitation for
||Since you follow this clause with several tentatively
couched suggestions of your own, why not remove this
sentence, replace the question marks with periods, and
elaborate a little upon your own ideas? Doing this would
eliminate the inevitable 'm-f-d: call for list' that is sure to
come, and it will also legitimize the ensuing mockery, both
of which are good things.
||<rant>It's nice that someone besides me understands that the world's biomass is basically relatively constant, and humanity is playing a Zero Sum Game with it, such that the more we use to make more humans (and things humans need, like crops), the less biomass is available for all the other species out there. So, that's why we are currently in the biggest Mass Extinction of species since the large dinosaurs were wiped out.
||While this Idea has some niceness to it, it is really only temporary. The amount of biomass that the world can support is related to the amount of sunlight that arrives. I would venture to guess that, after more than 3 billion years of organisms making biomass out of inorganic matter, the Earth has about as much as can be supported. Yes, there is the fact that the oceans represent a vast "desert" area where much sunlight goes wasted due to certain resources like iron, and so SOME increase in total biomass seems possible.
||However, so long as the human population explosion continues, any extra biomass will eventually be converted into humans and human food sources, STILL leaving nothing for all those other species.
||Which means the REAL solution, to stop the current Mass Extinction, is for humanity to stop breeding like a bunch of stupid animals.</rant>
||Perhaps a couple of really good wars will help the
||Actually, I would disagree with the statement that
the biomass of the Earth is constant, let alone
that it is determined solely by the amount of
sunlight it receives.
||If the Earth's land area were populated densely
with giant redwoods, the biomass would be huge.
If it were populated solely with lichen, it would be
||The rate of energy turnover is pretty much tied to
solar radiation in the long run, but that is a very
bicker of eels.
||If biomass is considered to be carbon-based, then there IS an upper limit - convert all carbon on earth into organic molecules of one sort or another. I don't thnk we're quite there yet, what with the living and dying and CO2 and rocks that contain carbon and...
But on the other hand, I tend to agree with part of [Vernon]s rant - the way we're going, the only living things will be humans or for human consumption (and eventually only humans, which will also be for human consumption...).
||[Alterother]: Feel free to consider it both a list of
proposals I think *might* work, and a call for more;
I've seen proposals on here where the annotations
do offer better solutions to the same problem, I'm
just asking for this more explicitly. And feel
equally free to mock the proposals I've already
||Specifically, consider the idea of some kind of low-
cost membrane or floats at or just below the
ocean surface that life could grow on, which I
think is my most novel suggestion. Perhaps the
waves would inevitably break this up; but what if
it was made of newer nanomaterials with great
strength? Or floated 30m below the surface, but
spread out across many square miles as a kind of
artificial submerged island? Would this still not
work, or would it just look too silly?
||[neutrinos shadow]: there's actually far more
carbon in rocks, and for that matter readily
available in atmospheric CO2, than is used by living
organisms, so I think usable surface area, rather
than carbon mass, is the limiting factor.
||The driving tendency of land use is doubtless to
convert it to human consumption; OTOH, when
farming practices got more efficient, we were
sometimes able to restore some wetlands, prairie,
or forest we no longer needed to grow crops on,
so I hold some hope that our appreciation of
diversity and nature might justify some increase in
the non-humanly-used biomass.
||//Specifically, consider the idea of some kind of low- cost membrane or floats at or just below the ocean surface that life could grow on//
||There's always the Gyres...
||I believe dipping the seawater in vinegar first helps enormously.