Lectures week 1.
Please read the first assignment in the course outline. We will be discussing the origins of oceanography (Chapter 1) and Earth and its oceans (Chapter 2) this week, plus the appendices. As you do your reading, keep in mind that we are concerned with the relationships between society and the sea in this class: how do oceans affect man and how does man affect the oceans. Identify a suitable term project as soon as possible, and begin to collect information about it.
Get a notebook to record your answers to the study questions, and to record the results of your term project investigation. As we discussed in class, you may pick any project that interests you in the general area of the course. You will prepare a paper and make a short oral presentation about your findings to the rest of the class. Notebooks will be inspected from time to time. You may wish to use a website for your project in addition to your paper (or instead of it!). Term projects usually require about 10 pages (including figures), but don't go much beyond this.
A wealth of information about society and the sea is now available on the web. Spend some time going through the various links I've placed in the course webpage. A good place to start for this week's assignment is the British National Maritime Museum webpage, where you can find a wealth of information about this seafaring nation that really did "rule the waves" in the eighteen century. You might be surprised to learn that pirates helped in achieving this goal. See the collection of navigational instruments. Look for the reasons behind the successes of the British Empire that relate to the ocean.
Try to relate your readings and websearching to the problems of modern man...many have not changed. People have always preferred living near the ocean to living inland. Make a list of the different ways that oceans benefit mankind. Think about how this list might have looked thousands or hundreds of years ago. What would Earth be like without its oceans?
The Stephan Birch aquarium museum has a giant squid found on La Jolla shores beach, shown here with SIO Marine Biology Professor John McGowan. A surfer brought it to shore. Part of a fin was used by a fisherman as bait before it was identified as rare. The creature is a Morotenthis Robusta, 10 feet long and weighing 32 lb (the species gets to 20 feet long or more). It is unusual to see on the beach since it is a palaigic animal; that is, coming from kilometer depths. The longer two tentacles have claws. Larger species exist, such as the Architenthis Dux which can be 60 feet long and weigh a ton: a true sea monster, and a worthy adversary to sperm whales that dive to eat them.
Some important areas where the oceans are important to society are food, water, energy, waste disposal, transportation, military, and recreation. Most people live near coastlines for these reasons, and have for centuries. Most of the fish and shellfish of the oceans are there for the taking along the coast. The coastal mountains cause rainfall for fresh water, sea breezes power sailboats for fun and profit, and seaports harbored the great gunboats of Britania while it was ruling the waves and the submarines and aircraft carriers of modern navies. Oceans moderate temperature variations. It is no accident that coastal property values are much higher than those inland.
Energy is the ultimate resource, and is very similar to money. Just as you can change money into various currencies you can change energy into various forms. The oceans affect our energy policies in important ways. Fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean by complex processes. Most of the carbon of the planet Earth is tied up in the great carbonate deposites of the deep ocean rather than forming the planet's atmosphere as it does in Mars and Venus. Rather than upsetting the climate balance by burning fossil fuels, a strong effort is underway to convert to "green power" sources such as hydroelectric and wind. Wind power is the fastest growing source of "renewable" energy. Nearly 4000 megawatts (4x10^9 watts=4e9 joules/s) of utility grade wind power was added to the electric power generating capacity of the world in 1999, and this will be 15000 in 2000 giving an increase of 36% in just one year. Denmark is a leader in this field, and already uses over 5% wind power. See some pictures of offshore wind turbines in Denmark. The installed cost is about $1/watt. In the USA, people average about a kilowatt each in their power consumption, so you can see that energy production in the US requires a huge investment: hundreds of billions of dollars.
There are 8760 hours in a year, so at ten cents a kilowatt hour this means an average electric bill of $876 each per year per person. Electricity costs in San Diego went to over $0.17/kwhr this summer, partly because hydroelectric power of the Pacific Northwest was cut back to protect salmon runs (costing about $10,000 per salmon). Cost benefit analysis is needed to make such decisions properly. The US has lots of fossil fuels compared to other countries, and only has about 3000 megawatts of wind power at present, or 20% of the total wind power for the world, even though we use about 50% of the energy. This may change. The Clinton administration proposed 5% wind power by 2020 compared to only about 0.2% today. In international conferences we have promised to keep CO_2 discharges to 1990 levels, but this will require substantial increases in all renewable energy sources (as well as conservation).
When you start to read about energy, you may become lost in the peculiar units used. For example, the total energy consumption in the US last year is given by the Department of Energy as 92 quadrillion btu. What does this mean? A quadrillion is 10^15. A btu is a British Thermal Unit, corresponding to the amount of energy required to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. It is recommended that you convert everything to metric (SI) units; that is, meters, kilograms, seconds, degrees Kelvin. Only Burma, Liberia and the US have failed to require the use of metric units, but the US is gradually coming around. The unit of energy is the joule, which is one Newton meter or one kg m^2 s^-2. If energy sells for $0.1 per kilowatt-hour, how much is a joule worth? The answer is 2.77x10^-8 $/joule. One btu is 1055 joules, so 92 quadrillion btu would cost $2.7x10^12 ($2.7 trillion) at this rate. Don't be intimidated by large numbers or conversion factors. For basic facts about the world (and some great maps) try out the CIA factbook website.