Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, June 3rd., 2008

Planetary maps
In perhaps the most important piece of news in a long time the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena has successfully landed a remotely controlled robotic explorer on the surface of our near orbit neighbor, Mars. For the first time in over 30 years we have achieved a soft landing like the one future astronauts will need to use when arriving to explore the surface of the red planet in person.

Maybe they will find useful minerals; maybe they will find it possible to terraform part of the planet for human use. They might find it basically unsuitable and then the focus should be on another planetary candidate or a moon to explore. Right now, though Mars seems to be the best candidate.

Like other advocates I dream about what the space program could have done with the hundreds of Billions we have spent on Middle East and other wars. Socialists think of the welfare checks it would have bought. Ranchers think it could have put a buffalo in every pot. Too late for all of that, the moolah has long been spent and at least we got some interesting new technologies for our money. What we can do is allocate more funds in the future and make space exploration a higher priority than we have. To do so a worthy and singular goal is needed. Finding a new place to go and inventing a way to get there is such a goal.

Finding new planets to colonize and/or mine for resources should be a high priority for a species which appears likely to breed itself into abject poverty or even extinction on this mud ball we call Earth. There are only three cures for overpopulation: Reduce the birth rate, increase the death rate or find a new place to live. All but China seems willing, even eager, to continue the population explosion, so reducing birth rate is not likely. Famine, war, disease, and euthanasia are about the only real population reducers…none are too popular. That leaves us with sooner or later finding a new place to live. The faster the species breeds the sooner it will need that liebestram, that new place to park the extra human population. If we don’t find a suitable planet or moon to move some of the excess people to, we will have to resort to one of the extremely unpleasant alternatives listed above.

Conservatives, which is what environmentalists really are, seek to save or conserve as much of the natural wealth of the planet as they can. That strategy simply cannot keep up with the ever increasing birth rate. Rapid technical advancements have helped improve farming, ranching and fishing efficiency but all have limits. The sad truth is that humans can reproduce faster than their own food supply.

We humans are a long way from reaching the goal of finding and learning to colonize other planets and it seems likely that famine or some other unsavory force will beat us to the punch and kill off a large segment of the population first. But we can try; and space seems like the place to find more resources and maybe even a new place to live.
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Redraw the PEW map
One of the sticking points of the proposed PEW monument seems to be that PEW came along and drew an arbitrary blob on a map without consulting anyone locally whether that was an appropriate area for conservation or not. Further, the PEW proposed boundaries cover 3 islands belonging to the NMI but bills itself frequently as the ‘Marianas Trench Monument’ yet the monument they envision only includes a tiny fraction of the Marianas Trench.

Maybe if PEW backed off it’s somewhat ham handed initial approach and asked for local cooperation in redrawing the boundaries of a proposed monument, all parties could be assuaged and an agreement could be reached.

Here is my idea for a possible alternative to discuss with NMI stakeholders when redrawing the boundaries. If we redraw the borders of the proposed park to include a swath of ocean that narrowly bounds the actual Marianas Trench much like the boundaries of the oft compared Grand Canyon Park do, it would not involve taking any land from the CNMI.

The deep parts of the trench (The Challenger Deep) are not near the NMI’s northern islands anyway but lie well south of Guam. A park might start at the extreme northern limit of US/CNMI controlled waters directly above the Trench. The park could be a narrow10 or 20 mile wide J shaped strip that runs north and south out in the ocean on the east side of the CNMI well offshore, that then curves back west below Guam and extends to the end of the US jurisdiction. There is not likely to be interference with fishing in that deep water and there is not likely to be any mineral extraction even possible in those ultra deep waters so potential conflict with commercial uses is avoided.

There is no need whatsoever for the park to encompass any of the CNMI islands if it is to be a ”Marianas Trench Monument”. Stick it out in the ocean where the Marianas Trench actually is. Sounds like a great idea but notice that I too did not consult the real stakeholders, I just made up something that sounded reasonable. The above is just one possibility.

Don’t like that one? Here is another possibility. Make that monument a no take zone within 50 feet of that big red Hawaiian mango tree in my backyard. Only 3 mango jam specialists and myself are to be allowed in there to munch those juicy mangos. Damit we owe it to our posterity to ensure those mangos will be there in a thousand years. See that sounds reasonable. What would not sound reasonable is if I designated the mango tree in my neighbors yard then told him he couldn’t get those mangos anymore, only I and a few select mango specialists could access the now “saved” mango tree area in his backyard. I might be happy, but the neighbor probably would not. If the neighbor and I both sat down and jointly decided which mango tree to save, if any, the controversy would probably end. Either way, I like my neighbor and I like those mangos too.
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I will resign
Just in case you were wondering. Yep, I’m willing to resign from whatever it is I should resign from in order to run for the Non-Voting Delegate slot. It’s a bit easier for me since I don’t have a government job to begin with nor am I an elected official. But hey, I’ll resign from something if necessary.

It seems that some potential candidates would rather not resign from their current government jobs as the Constitution dictates before declaring themselves a candidate for the NVD job. Others, with just as much to lose have already done the right thing and resigned their posts in order to run as the law stipulates. The saying goes: You can’t have your cake and eat it too. (Although the author of that tidbit may not have been so well connected as some). Resign already if you want to run, it’s the ethical thing to do. Besides, it’s the law.

So here is my promise: I will resign, but I will not vote. You can pinch me or punch me, I still won’t vote.
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Quote of the week:
An act has no ethical quality whatsoever unless it be chosen out of several, all equally possible. William James (1842 – 1910)


The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Bruce, I drew the lines. Last time I checked my father's name was on our Constitution. I think that qualifies this as a local proposal with local input.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

You are too modest, Angelo. I didn't know you drew the lines and I don't think many others do either.

Was there a meeting of concerned folks who came to an agreement about that proposed site...or was it an individual effort?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

It was Cinta Kaipat and me. When presented with the concept, we figured the area was already protected, the gap between those three islands and the other eleven is very large, and people rarely go there, so it would be a "no-brainer."

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Hmmmmmmmm, well you've certainly picked the right President for a "no brainer" monument.

As an aside, what does Cinta think about the US militay designs on her 'home island' of Pagan? They want it for training, and have a fair amount of leverage. Will she cave on that in order to get a MTMonument?

What do you think of my "J" shaped monument idea that includes the majority of the actual Marianas Trench?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Make the Monument bigger? Why not.

The naming thing is a moot point. A culturally appropriate name will be chosen after designation.

The area encompasses about 1/3 of the Mariana Trench, a globally recognized icon, so I like that name.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Maybe that would be bigger, maybe smaller. 700 miles long and 20 miles wide = 14,000 sq mi. and it takes in most of the Trench. That is about 12% the size of the one you drew and it contains no land or seamounts.

Why not draw it, name it, negotiate the big items and the small details, get everyone's approval, THEN designate. Not before. To do otherwise just begs to get us the short side of the stick.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Do you remember the part of the presentation about two techtonic plates, with the Pacific plate slipping underneath the Philippine plate? That's what makes the area spectacular. A 20 miles strip doesn't include all that "stuff."

Aren't we doing what you're suggesting? We've drawn it and named it (although the name will come later), now we're working on that other stuff. Right?

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Yes, Angelo, I understand plate tectonics. The three islands proposed are on the uplift plate, however, and not part of the trench.

Yes, you are doing those things, although without much input, simply a review of work already accomplished. Even that is okay as long as the most important issue, formal designation, is done in the proper order. Map, redraw, propose rules, restructure same, negotiate the large and small details, get concurrence from all affected parties, THEN designate, not before.

Are we still on the same page? Is this what you are trying to do? Or is the game plan to designate and then hope for the best we can make out of a done deal? I am on board for the former; I am solidly opposed to the latter.