The role of the community in supporting coral reef restoration in Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia

Biorock coral reef restoration in Pemuteran is shown in this paper to have strong support of all sectors of the community because restoration of the economic, environmental, and ecosystem services the reef provides have transformed their way of life from the poorest village in Bali to one of the most prosperous.

Coral reef restoration projects have been conducted worldwide to increase the viability of damaged coral reef ecosystems. Most failed to show significant results. A few have succeeded and gained international recognition for their great benefits to ecosystem services. This study evaluated reef restoration projects in North-west Bali from the perspective of the local community over the past 16 years. As community participation is a critical support system for coral reef restoration projects, the contributing factors which led to high community participation and positive perceptions are examined. Social surveys and statistical analysis were used to understand the correlations between community perception and participation. The findings showed a positive correlation between community perception and participation. The level of community participation also depended on how their work relates to coral reef ecosystems. They supported this project in many ways, from project planning to the religious ceremonies which they believe are fundamental to achieve a successful project. Several Balinese leaders became ‘the bridge’ between global science and local awareness. Without their leadership, this study argues that the project might not have achieved the significant local support that has restored both the environment and the tourism sector in North-West Bali.

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The role of the community in supporting coral reef restoration in Pemuteran, Bali, Indonesia

Coral Arks, Climate Strategy: Saving coral reefs in the short and long term


May 7 2017. The Global Coral Reef Alliance / Soil Carbon Alliance urgently seeks funding during 2017 to support leadership in Geotherapy: global ecosystem regenerative development to reverse climate change, and for the Biorock Electric Reef Coral Ark Program with Indigenous Peoples (below).


Coral reefs are the most sensitive ecosystem to global warming and will be the first to become functionally extinct due to excess atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, imminently threatening the major marine biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, and shoreline resources of over 100 countries. The threat was fully understood by 1990, but was deliberately ignored for nearly 30 years by governments unwilling to solve the global climate change problem. As the result the current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a death sentence for coral reefs. Restoration of lost reefs is a life and death matter for the Small Island Developing States, and especially the atoll nations.
Massive coral mortality from heat shock took place across the globe in 2015 and 2016, record hot years, at precisely the temperatures forecast nearly 30 years ago by the Goreau-Hayes satellite sea surface temperature HotSpot method. 2017 will probably be even hotter, and many of the few Great Barrier Reef corals that survived the severe 2016 bleaching have bleached and died unusually early in 2017. Many new more regions will bleach this year as the equatorial and northern regions warm up. Since hotter years will certainly follow, we now have only a few years left to protect the last of the most critically threatened natural resource of the ocean.
Even if all fossil fuel use stops today, we will still face millions of years of high temperature, sea level, and CO2, continuing long after IPCC’s model projection time horizons of 50 or 100 years, condemning future generations to extinction of coral reefs and flooding of low lying coasts where billions of people live, unless CO2 is urgently reduced to preindustrial levels.
Biorock Coral Arks are the only way known to save corals from high temperature stress during the interim period until regenerative development strategies can reverse CO2 increase. During 2016 almost all the corals on Biorock Coral Arks in Indonesia survived the bleaching mortality of more than 95% of corals on nearby reefs, and they grew back a severely eroded beach naturally in just months. Indonesian fishing villages with Biorock reef projects have not only restored their fisheries, they have been transformed from the poorest villages on their island to some of the most prosperous, because so many tourists come from all over the world to swim over their spectacular Biorock corals and fish.

An immediate crash program is needed NOW to restore our damaged reefs using methods that 1) greatly increase coral growth rates, and 2) greatly increase coral survival from high temperature stress, and 3) work directly with coral reef communities. Biorock technology is the only method that does so, and can be powered on any scale by developing our vast but untapped clean and sustainable wave, wind, solar, and ocean current energy. Biorock methods greatly increase coral settlement, increase coral growth rates 2-6 times, prevent coral death after bleaching from heat shock, speed up coral recovery, and result in much higher survival, up to 50 times higher (5,000%) in the worst cases.
All marine organisms and ecosystems, not only corals, benefit from Biorock electric fields because they directly stimulate natural biochemical energy production. Biorock reefs greatly increase fish populations, create new sustainable mariculture opportunities, and build growing, self-repairing reefs of any size or shape that turn severely eroding low island beaches into growing ones naturally in just months, allowing them to grow despite global sea level rise. All other methods of coral reef restoration and shore protection will eventually fail catastrophically under global warming and global sea level rise.
In order to prevent catastrophic loss of fisheries, shore protection, tourism, and biodiversity in the coming years a massive program of coral reef restoration is needed in all the coral reef countries, and especially the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Biorock Coral Arks are our last hope to maintain coral reef ecosystem services until global warming is reversed. There is no time to waste: failure means condemning around a billion people to become climate refugees.This should be under the direct control of the countries affected, using the state of the art Biorock methods, which have been developed in the SIDS, without any help at all from the rich countries or funding agencies. This is a long-term task, and only those really committed to

This should be under the direct control of the countries affected, using the state of the art Biorock methods, which have been developed in the SIDS, without any help at all from the rich countries or funding agencies. This is a long-term task, and only those really committed to long-term restoration of their immediate environment can do so. Only local people are seriously dedicated to restoring their own fisheries, shorelines, and natural resources over the generations that will be needed until global warming can be brought under control. To be truly effective, all funding should be put directly into community- based environmental management initiatives supporting local efforts to restore and manage the resources they have lost, not to foreign or even national institutions, who will waste the money on bureaucracies, foreign consultants, and big international NGOs (BINGOs).

They should specifically NOT be under the control of those programs funded and controlled by the rich countries, which have spent 40 years systematically denying the massive declines of reefs that were already long known in the SIDS, denying their clearly proven linkages to global warming, and actively preventing any effective action to restore coral reefs with fiction about “resilience”. These groups are now attempting to control all reef funding, and if they succeed they will waste all the money by repeating their past failures.

GCRA Community-managed Coral Ark projects will be designed and built working directly with indigenous fishing communities who have already shown they want to act to restore their marine resources, and whose trust we have won through years, decades, or generations working with them on their coral reefs. These sites will be used to train other community-based environmental management groups who want to restore their coral reefs, fisheries, and beaches in their regions. Our first priorities are:

Jamaica is where coral reef diving research first began and where the decline of coral reefs, and all their causes, were first documented and understood. Jamaica is also where Biorock electric coral reef restoration was invented by GCRA researchers Wolf Hilbertz and TG 30 years ago, but unfortunately there have been no Biorock projects in Jamaica for 25 years. We have worked closely with Jamaican fishermen documenting changes on the reefs for 65 year., TG, a native speaker of Jamaican patois, wrote the integrated whole watershed and coastal zone management plans for both ends of Jamaica. We will focus on coral reef and fisheries restoration in Westmoreland, where the fishermen still remember the amazing coral growth and fish and lobster populations attracted to solar powered Biorock reefs we built with them 25 years ago. The former reef is now a barren wasteland, and the locals want to restore their collapsed reefs and fisheries.

The Guna Indians of Panama are lobster divers who live on 50 low islands, a quarter of which they are now abandoning due to erosion caused by global sea level rise. They are already global warming refugees! Our work there focuses on restoring coral reef growth to restore the lobster and fish populations, and growing Biorock shore protection reefs to save their islands from erosion and grow new islands. The Guna are a remarkable traditional culture that never lost their independence, have preserved all their cultural and political institutions, yet greatly value education and modern knowledge. Although TG is of Ngobe Indian descent (the largest and poorest indigenous community in Panama), his family have worked closely with the Gunas for generations, and he has complete authorization by the Guna Government to do environmental restoration projects there, something no other outsider has. The local will is there, but funding is nonexistent for independent Indigenous communities.

The Comca’ac (Seri) Indians of the Sea of Cortes are the smallest and most remarkable Indigenous culture of Mexico. They survived for hundreds of years in barren desert islands by diving for seafood, in particular, several unusual endemic species now on the verge of extinction. TG dived with them to understand the growth conditions of their unique biological resources and is working with them to develop their remarkable tidal energy resources to produce electricity, fresh water, Biorock building materials that consume CO2 from the atmosphere, and much more productive Biorock mariculture of their threatened native species.

Indonesia has the world’s largest, richest, and most biodiverse coral reefs, yet around 95% have been badly damaged. Our Indonesian team has built around 300 Biorock coral reef restoration projects in many islands of Indonesia, including Bali, Lombok, Flores, Sulawesi, Sumbawa, Java, and Ambon. These have created prosperous ecotourism communities, restored fisheries, preserved coral reefs from dying from global warming, grown back severely eroded beaches in months, and won many international environmental awards, including the United Nations Equator Award for Community-Based Development and the Special UN Development Programme Special Award for Oceans and Coastal Management. The Biorock Indonesia team is developing plans for large Biorock mangrove restoration projects in areas destroyed for shrimp farms that will become Orang Utan habitat in Kalimantan (Borneo) as well as major mangrove peat carbon sinks, restoring areas damaged by mining in Sulawesi and Halmahera, and restoring eroded beaches in Raja Ampat, West Papua. We have trained hundreds of Indonesian students in the new restoration methods, but there is no funding for them to help the fishing communities all across this nation of 17,000 islands and 250 million people that are asking for training to also re-grow their reefs, fisheries, and shorelines as the first communities we trained have done.

In Vanuatu, TG trained a fishing community to build a dozen Biorock reefs to restore their own coral reefs, which were dynamited, dredged, turned into an airstrip by the US military in 1943, and never recovered. Fishing villages all around Vanuatu, concerned about their reefs, have tried all other methods of coral reef restoration, and found that they all failed. Now, having seen the results of the Biorock pilot projects, they all want training too to develop their own community reef fisheries mariculture projects. Their eagerness to learn methods to be more productive and less destructive is incredible, and we are delighted to help them!

TG’s family has worked with local Aboriginal communities to document the health of their corals on the Great Barrier Reef for generations, and have photos of the same reefs from 1927, 1950, 1967, and 1998. We need to repeat these photos and videos again, now that most of the corals have died from global warming in 2017, exactly as we had predicted would happen. We will work directly with the Kuku Yulanji Aboriginals of the Daintree Forest, owners of Low Isle, where we stayed and photographed each time, to restore their dead coral reefs and establish their Sea Rights to all of their territory, underwater as well as above. TG is a hereditary member the Dhuwa Yolngu Aboriginals of Arnhem Land, the oldest culture in Australia, which has preserved knowledge of all the places they lived in the last 50,000 years, including those drowned by the sea after the last Ice Age.


GCRA is helping The Commonwealth Secretariat (CS), 52 countries with 2.5 billion people, a third of the Earth’s population, develop a strategy of Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change, for presentation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December. This aims to stabilize CO2 at pre-industrial levels in decades, to prevent runaway climate change impacts. Our Geotherapy book and recent FAO papers on factors controlling rates of regenerative drawdown and long-term storage of CO2 in soils provide the scientific basis of the strategy. We have also developed superior Biorock electric restoration methods for mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes, whose peat soils are the most cost-effective carbon sinks on the planet.
There won’t be any operational funding for strategy development or implementation until after approval by the Commonwealth Secretariat in June, and UNFCCC in December, but the CS has asked TG to advise them on marine issues and present the scientific foundations of the strategy to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon in March 2017 in Rome, the Society for Ecological Restoration Conference in Brazil in August, and at UNFCCC.
It will also be very important to make other such strategically critical presentations where needed to help support the strategy development in the coming months, especially with the majority of the Commonwealth nations, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific, Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. GCRA has worked directly on coral reef issues in almost every single SIDS in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean, and has close contacts with may SIDS environmental groups and governments, starting with Jamaica, where GCRA originated. GCRA is therefore extremely familiar with the local environmental management problems and can identify the specific locations that would most benefit from regenerative development strategies in each of these countries.


GCRA, and its partner, the Soil Carbon Alliance, seek funding to complete three documentary films, and books, of critical importance to climate strategies:
DIRT RICH by Marcelina Cravat, Passelande Films, Berkeley. Shows how soil carbon is being increased by many methods around the world, and how it can reverse global climate change. Filming is already complete, and funding is needed for final editing and production phases, including soundtrack, narrators, promotion, etc. We have previously collaborated on ANGEL AZUL, about underwater art, tourism, coral reefs, dolphins, algae, and sewage in Cancun.
CORAL GHOSTS by Andrew Nisker, Take Action Films, Toronto. The history of coral reefs, the most climatically threatened ecosystem, from life to death, and hopefully to regeneration. Funding is needed for filming at critical sites around the world, in the Great Barrier Reef, Jamaica, Bahamas, Indonesia, Micronesia, Panama, the Red Sea, and others to compare with our underwater photograph collection, the world’s largest and oldest, in order to understand the causes of the changes at each reef, and show how to reverse them. We will focus on training local Indigenous fishing communities to restore their coral reefs and fisheries, especially the Kuku Yulanji Aboriginals of the Great Barrier Reef. We have previously collaborated on GROUND WARS, in production for The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, on health and environmental impacts of golf course chemicals on coral reef and human health.

SCIENCES OF LIFE, TECHNOLOGIES OF DEATH: THE 1970 MIT STUDENT STRIKE AGAINST WEAPONS RESEARCH AND THE MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SCIENCE by Tom Goreau & Videosphere, Cambridge, MA. MIT students in 1970 went on strike specifically over the issue of weapons research on campus, at a time when all other campuses were focused on the Viet Nam War. MIT succeeded in stifling debate on the issue by expelling the student leaders, but the undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty, and administration led the formation of many organizations focused on the social responsibility of science and engineering. The moral issues raised nearly 50 years ago are just as relevant today in the era of mass bombing and global warming, but have been effectively ignored since 1970. The various points of view of the many participants from all sides are being explored by interviews with the surviving leaders of the 1970 events on all sides.

GCRA/SCA is a global non-profit network of volunteers working with essentially no funding on direct action projects with local communities to protect and manage coral reefs, and all other ecosystems, all around the globe. For more than 25 years GCRA has provided cutting edge research on community-based ecosystem restoration and management in developing countries and indigenous communities, the impacts of global climate change on ecosystems, and helped invent important new technologies to reverse them and regenerate the ecosystem services providing our planetary life support systems, founded on restoration of natural biogeochemical recycling processes.

GCRA activities in 2016 are briefly summarized in:

GCRA planned programs for 2017 are briefly outlined in:

GCRA projects with Indigenous Peoples are summarized in:

For more information contact Thomas J. Goreau, PhD, President, Global Coral Reef Alliance, at

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon, Rome, March 21-23 2017

Live Coverage of the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon #GSOC17

Soil4Climate Facebook:

Presentations by Tom Goreau, Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance

Poster: Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change: Quantity and quality of soil carbon sequestration control rates of CO2 and climate stabilization at safe levels


New diseases of soft corals

Lesioned and healthy Sarcophyton ehrenbergi
Lesioned and healthy Sarcophyton ehrenbergi. (A) S. ehrenbergi displaying areas of yellow lesioned tissue. (B) Magni- fied image of ulcerated lesion. A healthy S. ehrenbergi is not included here but looks like the coral shown in (A) minus the yellow tissue. (C,D) Examples of a healthy S. ehrenbergi

Ulcerated yellow spot syndrome: implications of aquaculture-related pathogens associated with soft coral Sarcophyton ehrenbergi tissue lesions.

Authors: James M. Cervino, Briana Hauff, Joshua A. Haslun,
Kathryn Winiarski-Cervino, Michael Cavazos, Pamela Lawther,
Andrew M. Wier, Konrad Hughen, Kevin B. Strychar

Download the paper here: NEW SARCO

Marine Electrolysis for Building Materials and Environmental Restoration

Thomas J. Goreau, 2012
p. 273-290 in Electrolysis, J. Kleperis & V. Linkov (Eds.), InTech Publishing, Rijeka, Croatia
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter

1. Introduction

Within weeks after Alessandro Volta developed the battery in 1800, William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle applied it to the electrolysis of water, producing hydrogen at the cathode and oxygen at the anode, and thereby showing that water was not an irreducible element, as had been thought, but a chemical compound made up of two elements with very different properties. It was quickly found that adding salts to the water greatly accelerated reaction rates. We now know this is caused by increased electrical conductivity and reduced resistivity, thereby increasing the electrical current flowing for a given applied battery voltage according to Ohms’’s Law. Humphrey Davy soon applied electrolysis to the practical problem of oxidative corrosion of copper plates used to sheath ships and protect the wood from boring organisms, founding the field of galvanic protection of metals from corrosion, now widely used to protect steel ships, oil rigs, bridges, and subsea pipes from failure. Seawater electrolysis for galvanic protection can use sacrificial anodes, driven by the voltage potential difference between different metals, or actively impressed currents driven by a battery or a direct current power supply. In the first case the voltage differences are small, usually only tenths of a volt, according to the difference in electromotive potentials of the various metals or alloys used. The metal acting as the cathode is completely protected from rusting and corrosion as long as the electrical current flows. The metal acting as the anode usually dissolves away as the reaction proceeds, and needs to be periodically replaced in order to continue to prevent corrosion of the cathode. Increased currents accelerate reaction rates, which can cause mineral growth or scale, something most uses of cathodic protection wish to avoid. For example, if a boiler is being cathodically protected from rusting, one does not want to precipitate a mineral scale layer on it, because that is less thermally conductive than the metal, and reduces heat transfer and boiler efficiency. Therefore most uses of cathode corrosion protection use the lowest possible voltages and currents needed to prevent rusting, in order to avoid growth of scale.

There is a ““natural”” analog of cathode protection that is crucial for marine archaeology. A shipwreck invariably contains objects of several different metals, such as various steel alloys, copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, and others. The metal that acts as the strongest anode, according to its electromotive potential, proceeds to dissolve, releasing electrons that flow to the cathode metals, protecting them from oxidation. When the anode has completely dissolved, the next metal in the electromotive series then plays that role until there are no more anodic metals left, and at that point corrosion can take place on the last cathode metal. The process causes growth of limestone scale on the cathode, which protects and conceals it. Metal artifacts preserved in marine shipwrecks have been protected because they acted as cathodes. Despite the popular image of treasure hunters finding shiny golden coins, in fact the treasure is completely encrusted in limestone, appearing as irregular white crystalline lumps with the metal surface completely concealed. The first thing marine archaeologists do with these lumps is to throw them into an acid bath to dissolve away the limestone, in some cases speeding the process up by wiring them up as an anode of a battery, although that risks destroying the artifact if it proceeds too far. Only once the limestone has dissolved can the archaeologist see the metal artifact.

Later applications of aquatic electrolysis included making chlorine and bleach (sodium hypochlorite) from seawater and chloride brines, and purification of metals, but largely under highly controlled conditions in limited volumes, often from fused salts or acid solutions rather than from seawater. Following the First World War, the Nobel Prize winning German Jewish chemist, Fritz Haber, whose work on industrial nitrogen fixation via the Haber-Bosch process is the basis for almost all fertilizer nitrogen production, and hence for our global food supplies, sought to use electrolysis of sea water to extract traces of gold from the ocean to pay back war reparations imposed by the victors. He found that concentrations were too low to be economic, and was then hounded to death by the Nazis.

2. Physical properties of mineral production from sea water

Michael Faraday was the first to precipitate solid minerals by electrolysis of seawater. It was not until 1976 that Wolf Hilbertz recognized that these minerals, under the right conditions, could be a resource rather than a problem to be avoided. Hilbertz, an innovative architect working on self-growing construction materials, experimented with electrolysis of sea water and discovered that by varying the voltage and current applied he could grow different minerals on the cathode, ranging from soft to hard (Hilbertz, 1979). His inspiration was biological: if marine organisms could grow shells and skeletons of precisely controlled architecture from minerals dissolved in seawater, we should be able to figure out how to do so as well. Limestone does not precipitate naturally from seawater, so marine organisms must use their metabolic energy resources in order to create special internal chemical conditions that cause shell growth.

Hilbertz found that under low electrical current conditions he could grow extremely hard calcium carbonate limestone deposits, made up of crystals of the mineral aragonite, the same compound that makes up coral skeletons and the bulk of tropical white sand beaches.

Higher currents caused the growth of the mineral brucite, or magnesium hydroxide, which is soft and tends to easily break off. Through experimentation it proved possible to grow rock-hard limestone coatings of any desired thickness on steel frames of any desired shape or size, at up to 1-2 cm per year, with compressive (load-bearing) strength up to 80 Newtons per square millimeter (MegaPascals), or about three times the strength of concrete made from ordinary Portland Cement.

This material, which Hilbertz first called ““Seacrete”” or ““Seament””, is now called ““Biorock®”” in order to emphasize that this is the only GROWING marine construction material that gets larger and stronger with age, and is self-repairing, like biological materials, but unlike any other marine construction material. This unique property causes any damaged or broken portion to grow back preferentially overgrowth of undamaged sections.

Biorock materials Ihuru, North Male Atoll, Maldives
Figure 1. Biorock materials grown at Ihuru, North Male Atoll, Maldives, around a 6mm diameter steel bar in approximately one year. The darker surface color is a thin film of dried algae that migrates on the surface as it grows outward, leaving the interior bright white. The piece was hacksawed out of a growing structure. There is no corrosion at all on the steel. Photograph by Wolf H. HIlbertz.
Biorock materials from various locations
Biorock materials from various locations. The piece at mid-left is the one shown in the previous photo. The one at top-left, completely overgrown with oysters, is from Louisiana, and all the rest were grown in a two and a half year period at Ihuru Island, North Male Atoll, Maldives. Samples tested from that set of samples in the Materials Testing Laboratory of the University of Graz, Austria, had the compressive strength of 60-80 Mega Pascals, around three times the load-bearingg strength of ordinary Portland Cement concrete. Photograph Wolf W. Hilbertz.
Biorock material piece was cut near where two steel bars crossed
Figure 3. This piece was cut near where two steel bars crossed. We had wedged a coral between the bars after a few months of growth. The coral skeleton is the slightly darker vertically oriented area in the center. After 2.5 years it was completely overgrown and encased by electrochemically produced minerals. Photograph Wolf H. Hilbertz.
Pemuteran, Bali Biorock self-repair
Pemuteran, Bali Biorock self-repair
Pemuteran, Bali Biorock self-repair
Pemuteran, Bali Biorock self-repair
Pemuteran, Bali Biorock self-repair
Pemuteran, Bali Biorock self-repair
Pemuteran, Bali, Biorock self-repairing material

Figure 4. Self repair of Biorock damaged by big boat impact. Time series photographs by Rani Morrow-Wuigk. This structure was installed in June 2000. Note there is no rust on the steel after nearly 11 years
in seawater.

The remarkable property of self-healing structures results from the distribution of the electrical field. Initially the electrical gradient between the anode and the cathode results in growth of mineral layers all over the cathode, starting at the closest points, or at sharp extremities that focus electrical field gradients, or at sites where water currents preferentially transport electrons.

Unlike the steel, the minerals are poor electrical conductors, and act as partial insulators. Nevertheless, electrons continue to flow because of the imposed electrical gradient. Although the electrolytic reactions generate hydroxyl ions and alkalinity in the water that are neutralized by mineral deposition taking place at the surface of the metal (see next section), production of hydrogen gas at the cathode surface causes creation of tiny pores and channels from the metal surface to the seawater, out of which hydrogen bubbles emerge (such bubbling provides visible proof that the reaction is working properly). Even Biorock material with three times the load-bearing strength of ordinary concrete has around 20% porosity. While it might be thought that minerals might insulate the cathode and prevent further growth, the imposed electrical gradient ensures that growth continues, in part because electrons flow through the hydrogen escape pores. We observe no long-term decrease in the rate of bubbling or the growth of minerals, even in cases where more than 30 cm of hard minerals have grown over the cathode.

When the mineral growth is broken off, whether by severe storm wave damage, boat impacts, or deliberately by pliers, hammers, or hacksaws, and the bare metal is exposed, there is greatly increased growth at that point, until the newly deposited minerals are as thick as adjacent unbroken material. The metal is all at the same voltage potential, but reduced or absent mineral coatings cause the increased electrical current and mass transfer to flow through the water at that point. When the newly grown material is as resistive as the old coating the increased growth rate is self-limiting. In some cases new material is more porous due intense hydrogen bubbling, and the repaired area may grow thicker than adjacent harder and less porous material. We first recognized this focusing of current to freshly exposed surfaces in an experiment using multiple lengths of rebar as cathodes. We would periodically remove one rebar in order to measure the thickness of the material growth, replacing it with a fresh rebar, in an attempt to measure long-term growth rates and changes in chemical composition. The bare steel surface focused the current on the new rebar, which grew at the expense of all the others, stopping their growth. While the experiment did not work as intended, it provided valuable insight into the process.

3. Chemical mechanisms of mineral deposition Read More: Marine Electrolysis for Building Materials and Environmental Restoration

Blue Planet Laureates Speak Out

This paper is a synthesis of the key messages from the individual papers written by the Blue Planet Laureates (Annex I describes the Blue Planet Prize), and discusses the current and projected state of the global and regional environment, and the implications for environmental, social and economic sustainability. It addresses the drivers for change, the implications for inaction, and what is needed to achieve economic development and growth among the poor, coupled with environmental and social sustainability, and the imperative of action now. The paper does not claim to comprehensively address all environment and development issues, but a sub-set that are deemed to be of particular importance.

To read the whole paper:

Key Messages

  • We have a dream – a world without poverty – a world that is equitable – a world that respects human rights – a world with increased and improved ethical behavior regarding poverty and natural resources – a world that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, where the challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and social inequity have been successfully addressed. This is an achievable dream, but the current system is deeply flawed and our current pathway will not realise it.
  • Population size and growth and related consumption patterns are critical elements in the many environmental degradation and social problems we currently face. The population issue should be urgently addressed by education and empowerment of women, including in the work-force and in rights, ownership and inheritance; health care of children and the elderly; and making modern contraception accessible to all.
  • There is an urgent need to break the link between production and consumption on the one hand and environmental destruction on the other. This can allow risking material living standards for a period that would allow us to overcome world poverty. Indefinite material growth on a planet with finite and often fragile natural resources will however, eventually be unsustainable. Unsustainable growth is promoted by environmentally-damaging subsidies in areas such as energy, transportation and agriculture and should be eliminated; external environmental and social costs should be internalized; and the market and non-market values of ecosystem goods and services should be taken into account in decision-making.
  • The immense environmental, social and economic risks we face as a world from our current path will be much harder to manage if we are unable to measure key aspects of the problem. For example, governments should recognise the serious limitations of GDP as a measure of economic activity and complement it with measures of the five forms of capital, built, financial, natural, human and social capital, i.e., a measure of wealth that integrates economic, environmental and social dimensions. Green taxes and the elimination of subsidies should ensure that the natural resources needed to directly protect poor people are available rather than via subsidies that often only benefit the better off.
  • The present energy system, which is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, underlies many of the problems we face today: exhaustion of easily accessible physical resources, security of access to fuels, and degradation of health and environmental conditions. Universal access to clean energy services is vital for the poor, and a transition to a low carbon economy will require rapid technological evolution in the efficiency of energy use, environmentally sound low-carbon renewable energy sources and carbon capture and storage. The longer we wait to transition to a low carbon economy the more we are locked into a high carbon energy system with consequent environmental damage to ecological and socio-economic systems, including infrastructure.
  • Emissions of GHG emissions are one of the greatest threats to our future prosperity. World emissions (flows) are currently around 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) per annum and are growing rapidly. As the terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems are unable to absorb all of the world’s annual emissions, concentrations (stocks) of GHG emissions in the atmosphere have increased, to around 445ppm of CO2e today and increasing at a rate of around 2.5ppm per year. Thus we have a flow-stock problem. Without strong action to reduce emissions, over the course of this century we would likely add at least 300 ppm CO2e, taking concentrations to around 750 ppm CO2e or higher at the end of the century or early in the next. The world’s current commitments to reduce emissions are consistent with at least a 3oC rise (50-50 chance) in temperature: a temperature not seen on the planet for around 3 million years, with serious risks of 5oC rise: a temperature not seen on the planet for around 30 million years. Given there are some uncertainties present in all steps of the scientific chain (flows to stocks to temperatures to climate change and impacts), this is a problem of risk management and public action on a great scale.
  • Biodiversity has essential social, economic, cultural, spiritual and scientific values and it’s protection is hugely important for human survival. The rapid loss of biodiversity, unprecedented in the last 65 million years, is jeopardising the provision of ecosystem services that underpin human well-being. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concluded that 15 of the 24 ecosystem services evaluated were in decline, 4 were improving, and 5 were improving in some regions of the world and in decline in other regions. Measures to conserve biodiversity and make a sustainable society possible need to be greatly enhanced and integrated with social, political and economic concerns. There is a need to value biodiversity and ecosystem services and create markets that can appropriate the value for these services as a basis for a ‘green’ economy.
  • There are serious short-comings in the decision making systems at local, national and global levels on which we rely in government, business and society. The rules and institutions for decision making are influenced by vested interests, with each interest having very different access over how decisions are made. Effective change in governance demands action at many levels to establish transparent means for holding those in power to account. At the local level public hearings and social audits can bring the voices of marginalized groups into the forefront. At national level, parliamentary and press oversight are key. Globally, we must find better means to agree and implement measures to achieve collective goals. Governance failures also occur because decisions are being made in sectoral compartments, with environmental, social and economic dimensions addressed by separate, competing structures.
  • Decision makers should learn from ongoing grass-root actions and knowledge in areas such as energy, food, water, natural resources, finance and governance. This is key, not the least in rural communities with a view to their management, control and ownership of these resources. There is a need to scale-up the grass roots actions by bringing together a complementary top-down and bottom-up approach to addressing these issues. Global cooperation can be improved by building on on-going regional cooperation to deal with common sustainable development issues.
  • Effective training programs should be implemented to multiply the number of competent decision makers in business and government. They must learn how to integrate programmes and policies within sustainability constraints, to understand the business case thereof, and acquire the skills to strategically move towards such sustainability goals.
  • All of the problems mentioned above demand we increase investments in education, research and assessments of knowledge.
  • If we are to achieve our dream, the time to act is now, given the inertia in the socio-economic system, and that the adverse effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity cannot be reversed for centuries or are irreversible (for example, species loss). We know enough to act, but the current scientific uncertainties, means that we are facing a problem of risk management on an immense scale. Failure to act will impoverish current and future generations.

Mexican tidal project to tackle fresh water, electricity and marine life sustainability

The Tiburón Agua y Electricidad project in Mexico aims to provide thousands of megawatts of power along with enough fresh water to supply large parts of North Western Mexico and the Southwest US. It also claims it will be home to a reef-growing infrastructure that will keep sea life and fishermen happy.

Tiburón Agua y Electricidad project in Mexico
Tiburón Agua y Electricidad project in Mexico

By Jason Deign

Grab a map of the world and see if you can spot what is arguably the best location on the planet for tidal power. Found the Gulf of California yet? That is where Kenneth D Lampner hopes to build one of the biggest and most self-sustaining tidal projects he thinks the world has ever seen.

Specifically, Lampner, who cut his teeth in the renewable energy industry 30 years ago with Solar Integrations, a PV company he still runs, is looking at a site called Infiernillo Strait, near the Mexican town of Bahia Kino, in Sonora.

The shallow Strait runs between the mainland and Tiburón Island, which partially blocks the Gulf and creates a choke point for incoming and outgoing tides. “What’s different about my project is the location,” Lampner says. “It’s a river in the ocean.”

Under a project being permitted by the Mexican Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Lampner aims to tap the three-metre tidal surge at both ends of the Strait to create an estimated 1,500 to 5,000 MW of power an hour.

This output is expected to be fairly constant as it takes the tide about seven hours to fill the Tiburón basin on the far side of the island, and about five hours to drain from it, besides there being a time lapse between the southern and northern ends of the Strait.

Most of the power will be used to drive the world’s largest desalination plant, a reverse-osmosis facility with a capacity of 350,000 cubic metres per day, to provide water for nearby Hermosillo and the surrounding area, and potentially for export to parched North Western Mexico, Arizona and Southern California.

This would take advantage of a 2003 Mexican self-supply law that allows private projects to generate electricity for their own use. Any leftover energy could potentially be fed into the grid, Lampner says.

Ecosystem protection
And he hopes to achieve all this without damaging the already frail ecosystem of the Gulf, a UNESCO World Heritage Site sometimes referred to as ‘the world’s largest fish trap’ which has nevertheless suffered significantly from overfishing in recent times.

The secret is a novel energy generation method that eschews the use of barriers or ‘spinners’ in favour of a vertical-axis Francis turbine design that exploits the variation in water level caused by the tides.

Lampner’s plan is to have these turbines anchored to the 12-metre seabed in the Strait but located close to the surface, so that marine life beneath them is not affected by their presence, and with channels so that fishermen and seagoing mammals can navigate between them.

The anchoring method he has chosen is as novel as his turbine design. His company, Tiburón Agua y Electricidad, has co-opted Dr Thomas Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, to create an infrastructure using a reef growth technique called Biorock.

With Biorock, a very low voltage current is passed through a wire frame so that minerals precipitate onto it, forming a limestone skeleton that can serve as a home to corals and other marine life.

“These are solid structures that gain strength in time and are self-repairing,” says Goreau. “The purpose is to tap surface tidal currents. We’re not trying to build a barrage, but it’s going to require support structures.”

Goreau says that if Biorock deposition happens at an optimal rate of 1-2 cm per year then “you get a structure that’s two or three times stronger than Portland cement.”

That might not be possible in the Tiburón development, he adds, because of the need to have structures that are strong from the outset.

Long-term benefits
Even if there has to be some compromise on this point, though, the continuously strengthening properties of Biorock should provide long-term benefits, and not just from an infrastructure point of view.

Organisms grow two to six times faster on Biorock than on traditional undersea substrates, Goreau says, “so we should be able to create much lusher fishing grounds.”

Besides Goreau, the Tiburón team counts Dr Chi Lin of Tianhuangping Pump Storage, which worked on the Three Gorges Dam development in China, and a number of engineering and renewable energy specialists. Lin will be responsible for sourcing the turbines from China.

Lampner, who describes himself as “being in real estate”, expects to foot most of the US$1.55bn cost of the project from investments in old goldmines, from which he hopes to extract other valuable minerals, such as silver.

Currently he is hoping to complete a detailed tidal site assessment of the Infiernillo Strait at the time of the spring high tides. But he accepts his grand design is taking time to come to fruition. “Three and a half years ago I thought I’d have it done in two years”, he says.

“I’m trying to push it as fast as I can because I’d like to see it done before I die.”

With a capital cost recovery estimate of five years for electrical generation and desalination, the project could become a viable, long-term and sustainable clean-energy franchise capable of satisfying the rapidly growing demand for water in the State of Sonora.

Fast facts

  • Total estimated project construction cost: US$1.550 billion (tidal electric generators: $750 million; power station: $250m; desalination plant: $350m; aqueduct: $150m; pumping stations: $50m).
  • Proposed electric project capacity: 1,500 to 5,000 MW
  • Proposed desalination plant capacity: 350,000 m3/day

Source: MLA citation: “Tiburon Agua y Electricidad”. Anti Essays. 6 Feb. 2012 <