Keeping the Planet Perpetual is something that We need to start doing Right Now
Dutch and German government scientists Sjoerd Groeskamp and Joakim Kjellsson have written preparation plans for climate change mitigation failure. Their plan involves a super-structure named – Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED). Since it is “impossible to truly fathom the magnitude of the threat that global sea level rise poses”, the scientists proposed building NEED to “fence off’ and enclose the North Sea in order to defend Northern Europe from rising sea levels.
Costing £422 billion, spanning 295 miles and requiring 51 billion tons of sand to build – the world’s entire annual sand budget for infrastructure and reclamation, the pair of dams is something we truly NEED (pun intended) to protect over 25 million people and some of the most important European economic regions (we all know what happened in the wake of China’s economic vacuum the last few months); but if level headed scientists can suggest such extreme measures, perhaps its time to wake up to the fact that the battle to keep our planet perpetual truly needs to begin right this minute.
Keeping the Planet Perpetual is something that We need to start doing Right Now
According to a 2016 Forbes editorial, Rolex received $4.7 billion in sales with around 30% profit margins. Being a privately owned company held in trust by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, we will truly never be able to know just how much Rolex spends on philanthropy and corporate social responsibility but what we do know is that through their many initiatives, Rolex Testimonees like intrepid photographer David Doubilet and crusading conservationist Sylvia Earle are being funded to keep telling stories of the earth’s fight for survival and the need to keep our planet perpetual.
At a glance, the pair of Northern European Enclosure Dams keeping the North Sea at bay may seem an overwhelming and unrealistic solution but then neither are most of the initiatives that Rolex chooses to sponsor nevertheless these moonshots and out-of-box ideas are exactly what we need to save the planet.
“We’re taking plastics that are not recyclable today. That means there are currently no economical technologies to turn these plastics into a valuable product. So we take things like dirty plastic bags, single-use packaging materials, and we transform them into valuable chemicals which can then be used to make durable materials for products that we all love and use every day.” – 2019 Rolex Laureate and Canadian molecular biologist Miranda Wang
Witness 2019 Rolex Laureate and Canadian molecular biologist Miranda Wang, trying to solve earth’s problem of 340 million tonnes of plastic choking landfills, rivers and oceans and generally polluting everything under the sun. Wang’s environmental moonshot is to take the world’s largest waste headache and turn it into wealth using unique chemical recycling technology developed by her company BioCellection.
Currently, less than a tenth of the world’s used plastic is recycled. In the United States alone, plastic piles up at disposal centres and landfills at a rate of 30,000 tonnes each month since China recently banned imports of plastic in 2018. bBut now, Wang’s bio-chemical solution has great potential to solve one of the world’s most pressing petrochemical problems of our modern history. Indeed, everything sounds like a moonshot until the answer becomes a reality.
Why do humans seems so disinterested in keeping our planet perpetual?
In fact, keen to understand why the collective planet is still dragging its feet to keep Earth perpetual, LUXUO spoke with Rolex Testimonee David Doubilet to find out just why stories of our planet aren’t resonating with the people who live on it.
I was astounded that we have mapped more of Mars than our own oceans, in discussions with other Scientists and explorers, has there been a consensus on why we have a bigger fascination with space than our own oceans?
This is a very good, almost disturbing question to ponder because it makes me very anxious about the fate of our ocean. Since humans have been on our planet they have gazed upward at the stars. I will answer with partial humor that maybe there is a subliminally divine connection in our human psyche that the stars are heavenly as opposed to the “depths of hell”. In all seriousness, we have been exploring the shallow diver accessible seas since the invention of the Aqua-Lung, about 77 years ago. Very little is known about the deep water basins that are most of our planet, let alone what lives there. On one hand I am distressed that we are more intimate with the moon, Mars and space. On the other hand, I do not entirely trust humanity to conserve the deep sea once it becomes readily accessible. For a moment in time, there may be life that is beyond the negative influence of our species.
I will add here, that ironically Voyager 1, launched in 1977 is hurtling through interstellar space, carrying images of Earth. One image is a diver and a school of fish that I photographed in the Red Sea. It is meant to share the wealth and wonder that is our oceans.
I recall in my childhood, being amazed by James Cameron’s The Abyss, on the laser disc commentary, he mentioned that “films are supposed to take you somewhere you can’t go” and he made reference to pictorials in National Geographic about life under the sea and how “non terrestrial intelligence” is meant to reflect humanity in their eyes. Since storytelling is part of the hashtag, could it be that popular media and Hollywood fiction has told more stories about space than the seas is making us look skyward rather than sea-ward? As fellow story tellers, what do you think can be done to get Hollywood-types and audiences more interested in stories about our oceans?
I think back on Hollywood’s visions in the sea that stick with me: Moby Dick, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Old man and the Sea, Titanic, Abyss, Peter Benchley’s Jaws. What I find most ironic is that space is devoid of life while the oceans are a galaxy of life, bizarre and alien life that is beyond our imagination but it exists. The sea in reality transcends science fiction. The big question is how do we connect people to the sea.
I am a photographer who believes still and motion imagery has the power to illuminate, educate, humiliate and celebrate. Storytelling and photographs essentially saved whales from extinction. Thousands of people a day swim with southern stingrays in Grand Cayman Island today because they read about them in National Geographic. As storytellers we need to seduce but not sensationalize, be inclusive, take the audience on the journey with us. There is truth in that statement that to protect something you must love it, to love it you must know it. My goal is to invite people into the sea in reality and metaphorically, moreover to invite them to be stakeholders. They already are stakeholders but so many are just not aware that as the oceans go so do we.
Have all the stories been told? Are there more “untold stories”? Which do you feel are the most important/immediate to share?
Absolutely not, far from it – I feel like I haven’t even gotten started. The greatest story on Earth is Earth itself. And truthfully it should be called Planet Ocean. We live on a pale blue dot that is 70% ocean and most of that unexplored. Countless species are yet to be described, countless ecosystems yet to be explored, countless stories to be told. Countless. We just published on sargassum seaweed, a living canopy in the Northwest Atlantic that is a nursery in the sea. It is critical habitat for many species that few people have stopped to look at and explore. My personal list is endless: Seagrass, seamounts, sea ice… The Pantanal, ancient corners of the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords, Alpine Lakes. How productive is it beneath an arctic bird colony perched on a cliff and of course beneath our own dock in the St. Lawrence River.
“It (NEED) reveals the immensity of the problem hanging over our heads.” – Ocean Scientist Sjoerd Groeskamp
Indeed, it’s terrifying, the wealth of information at our fingertips and our reticence to act that it has forced a joint international task force of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel to propose an idea as ambitious as constructing a “fence” for the European North Sea, showcasing the extent of protection efforts required if climate change mitigation efforts fail to limit sea level rise.
295 miles long, the Northern European Enclosure Dams will be constructed in two phases – one 100 miles long in the English Channel between France and England and another, stretching 195 miles between Scotland and Norway, requiring 51 billion tons of sand (which is what the world uses in a year for infrastructure projects).
Between Scotland and Norway the sea is 127 metres deep on average, plunging 321 metres at its deepest in the Norwegian trench. Between England and France it averages at 85 metres deep, with a maximum depth of 121 metres. Though it seems daunting, a study of the dams showed that it would be more effective than individual countries taking actions such as managed retreat because piecemeal efforts “leads to intangible costs such as large social and psychological difficulties in displacing people from their homes as well as cultural-heritage loss,” and can potentially lead to “national and international social-political instability.”
The research indicates that current global mean temperature is about 1◦ C above pre-industrial levels with projected further global warming up to 2.6-3.1 ◦ C by 2100 which implies that global-mean sea level rise (SLR) will continue to accelerate, rising at least 1 metre by the end of the century and beyond 2100 suggesting an unavoidable 5−11 m rise over the next centuries to millennia.
That said, the environmental impacts to aquatic wildlife would be extremely negative, affecting not just the tides,= but also sediment, nutrient levels and small marine life – the essential foundations of the food chain – in order to save human lives, aquatic life is sacrificed. The real alternative would be to not let sea levels rise in the first place; failure to mitigate climate change that potentially, Sea-Dweller would stop being a reference to a specific Rolex model and simply refer to future humans living in a dystopian Waterworld.