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U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Media Briefing at G8 Summit World Oceans Day
International Media Centre, Savannah, June 8, 2004, 14h00
MR SHERMAN : Greetings. Thank you for coming today to celebrate World Oceans Day. My name is Ben Sherman. I'm a Public Affairs Officer with the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. We're the United States ' principal ocean and weather agency.
With us today we have Jim Connaughton, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality in the White House, Rick Spinrad, Assistant Administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service, Richard Jahnke, a professor of Oceanography at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography here in Savannah, and we will be hooking up later, as you've heard us trying to do, hopefully with Bob Ballard, a member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and President of the Institute of Exploration for Mystic Aquarium and the discoverer of the Titanic wreck back in 1985.
Also speaking from the NOAA ship Ron Brown will be Captain Craig McLean of NOAA Corps* and the Director of the NOAA Ocean Exploration program, and we'll conclude our program with a few words from Alexander Sandy McDonald, the Director of the NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, and the inventor of the Science on the Sphere exhibit that you've seen in the press filing area.
At this point, I'd like to introduce Jim Connaughton, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
DR. CONNAUGHTON: Thank you, Ben. And it's very nice to be here with my colleagues from the administration and from outside in academia. I just want to say it's a pleasure to be here. Here we are in Georgia, right alongside one of the most beautiful seacoasts in the United States of America.
What we want to talk about here today is actually the meaning of that, the context of what our coasts and what our oceans mean to us. And I want to put that in the G8 context. The G8, last year at Evian, put in place a fairly large agenda of topics around science and technology for sustainable development. What we're able to carry forward at this meeting is to further that discussion, but with the G8 leadership from Evian through this year, we've made remarkable progress in bringing the world together around the topic of oceans, and in particular oceans observation.
A goal of the summit, a goal of any G8 summit, is how to build stronger economies, more stable economies, and how to foster international relations. Certainly in the environmental context, you actually need a strong and growing economy in order to make investments in the science and in the conservation and in the pollution prevention and the technologies that make that happen so that a key end point of strong economies and strong international relationships actually is a better environment.
I really want to commend the effort of the G8 Summit Planning Organization for working so hard to pull this together and also to be able to feature some of the technologies and some of the scientific inquiry that we're able to feature out in the press area here today.
A subcomponent coming out of last year's G8 action plan was the focus on global earth observation. The United States is pleased to host, following the G8 last year, the world's first Global Earth Observation Summit. There was a subsequent follow-up just this past spring in Tokyo, and our leaders will be talking about it again at this summit.
The effort is to link – it's a system of systems by which we link, literally, thousands of different technological assets and measurement capabilities around the world and build on them so that we can get real-time, on-the-ground data about what's happening in our earth system, and then a key component of that is what's happening in our ocean and coastal systems.
This will help us fill critical data gaps that are going to enable us to improve our knowledge. It's knowledge that helps us with the economic activity that surrounds our oceans and coasts. It's knowledge that helps us with the social implications of coastal development and coastal use and ocean use by people, as well as the environmental implications and the additional scientific challenges associated with coastal and oceans activity.
Here in the United States, in order – we have made a strong commitment to this process of linking together these systems, and we're doing it in the context of what is a very active national dialogue on the next generation of U.S. ocean policy. President Bush, three years ago or two and a half years ago, appointed the first U.S. National Oceans Commission, which is the first commission to convene on the subject in 30 years.
They've released a draft report. We are very excited to receive it. It contains several hundred recommendations and an extensive analysis of the opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead.
Today for you, we have convened some of our best and brightest stars, both in the Bush administration and also outside working in partnership with us, from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, from the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography here in Savannah, and you heard back and forth over the monitor, we'll be hearing from Dr. Robert Ballard as one of our nation's and actually one of the world's great ocean explorers. And he's a member of the President's U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.
I also want to give a special hello to my friend, Craig McLean, who is the Director of NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program, who is out on the boat right now, out on the ship right now, I should say. He actually happened to be my scuba instructor, so he is the one that introduced me firsthand to the deep, and a real pleasure to be connected with him at such a great distance.
So at that, I will turn it over to Rick Spinrad..
DR. SPINRAD: Thank you, Jim. It is a pleasure to be here. It really is a delight to be on the stage with Mr. Connaughton and the rest of our panelists. It's also a special pleasure to join you in this opportunity to have a media briefing on what is World Oceans Day.
In light of the G8 summit activities here in Savannah and Sea Island, I'd like to focus my brief remarks on some of the societal benefits and economic implications of coordinating and building a robust earth observation system, including ocean observance systems.
Globally, NOAA is playing a leadership role in developing what is being formally called the Global Earth Observation System of Systems that Mr. Connaughton referred to. This effort was initiated about two years ago in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. And last year, the G8 Ministers' Meeting at Evian issued a Science and Technology Action Plan calling on the nations of the G8 to strengthen cooperation on global earth observations.
In July of last year, the United States hosted 34 countries and 20 international organizations at the first-ever Earth Observation Summit in Washington, D.C. The heads of national delegations called for a commitment to develop a comprehensive and coordinated earth observation system built on existing systems.
The NOAA Administrator, Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, serves as one of four intergovernmental co-chairs of the Group on Earth Observations, or GEO. GEO has met four times, leading to the Earth Observation Summit II in Tokyo this past April. The Tokyo Summit produced the framework for the 10-year plan for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.
The third summit will be hosted by the European Commission and is slated to take place in Brussels next year, in February of next year. The goal of that meeting is to complete and finalize the 10-year implementation plan.
So what are the key benefits and improvements that can be expected in a variety of areas? They include: mitigating natural disasters, water resource management and conservation, marine resource management, air quality monitoring and forecasting, biodiversity conservation, sustainable land use management, weather and climate prediction, safer and more efficient transportation and commerce, and improved human health.
In the United States alone, coastal and marine waters support over 28 million jobs, generate over $54 billion in goods and services, and provide a tourism destination for 180 million people per year. Oceans cover about 70 percent of the planet's surface, and it's therefore not surprising that ocean observations will be a critical part of the larger earth observing system.
But ocean observations also represent the largest gap in our current global observation efforts. The data are needed to effectively manage ocean and coastal resources that are also essential to improving our understanding of weather and climate. Let me give you just a few brief examples.
Observing systems, such as NOAA's physical oceanographic real-time system, which we affectionately refer to as PORTS, can make marine transportation and commerce safe and more efficient. PORTS integrates real-time data on winds, currents, water levels, salinity, and other meteorological and oceanographic information. And delivers now-casts to mariners via phone or the Internet. This provides highly accurate and up to date information for determining draft and under-keel clearance of vessels, such as those coming into ports like Savannah.
This is critical to safety, but also has significant economic implications by helping to maximize port throughput and vessel load levels. By way of example, every inch counts. For one additional foot of under-keel clearance, that can mean, per vessel, an additional $100,000 if the vessel is carrying something like recycled paper, to as much as $1 million if that vessel is carrying, say, automobiles.
More recently, we began implementing at NOAA our first operational system to monitor and issue forecasts of harmful algal blooms along Florida 's Gulf Coast. Harmful algal blooms account for more than $50 million worth of damage in the United States per year in terms of lost tourism, in terms of health care costs, in terms of impact on fisheries.
The application of satellite data has been fundamental to our success in this area. These predictions aid resource managers, industry, and the public by giving them advanced warning to prepare for and mitigate harmful algal bloom impacts.
As a result, the public health can be protected while minimizing unnecessary beach closures that can damage the economically important tourism sector.
Many other examples of ocean observations abound, from open-ocean monitoring of El Nino, to global sea level observations. Planning and implementation of an integrated ocean observing system for the United States has been underway for several years. A key component of the national system will be the contributions of regional and local coastal systems.
A good example of a regional system is being developed here along the Southeast Atlantic Coast, and I'll turn it over to my colleague, Dr. Rick Jahnke from the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to provide some details about this. Thank you.
DR. JAHNKE: Let me first echo the other panelists in thanking you for attending this briefing and providing me the opportunity to describe some of the exciting observing activities that are going on locally and regionally.
It is difficult for me to convey in such a short period of time how important and exciting the introduction of real-time observing systems is to marine science. It changes everything. This technology truly alters the way the oceans are studied and expands greatly the societal beneficial uses of coastal information.
As Dr. Spinrad just described, ocean observing at the national and international scale holds great promise in supporting societal needs and providing economic opportunities. Regional and local observing systems, however, will play a key role in the success of these national and global networks.
In the same way that the larger-scale weather visualizations and maps that we're so commonly used to seeing on the Internet or on television are achieved by combining local radar images, regional observatories will feed important information to these national systems. In addition, it is at the regional level where observatories can provide local input and ensure that measurements are tuned and tailored to meet local needs.
Advances in regional observing systems have already been made in many regions. I'd like to just provide some examples now locally. In the Southeast, institutions from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have banded together and developed a pilot regional observing system called SEACOOS, the Southeast Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System.
This project combines satellite-sensed measurements, offshore in situ sensor measurements, near-shore sensor measurements, and numerical simulations and models to a common information management system which provides a seamless vision of southeastern coastal conditions.
There are many coastal challenges, and observatories can address many of them, and we've already made progress on some of them. Let me give you a few examples. Resource managers really need to understand water quality, they need to understand migratory behaviors of fishes as well as other behaviors. Presently, about 50 kilometers off of Sea Island, optical and video observations are being made in situ what provide this types of information, provide visual verification of when fish migrate into the area, when they migrate out of the area, and providing information about their spawning habits.
Another example: Public health officials are concerned about the occurrence and transport trajectories of waterborne toxins, such as those produced by harmful algal blooms. As Dr. Spinrad just indicated, today we can detect the outcome of some blooms directly from satellites in space. And as importantly, we can now predict their movement through the coastal zone, through mileage of coastal currents that are made accurate by assimilating direct observatory measurements.
Impacts of changing climate are, of course, a concern, and the impacts will vary locally. So it is only through local measurements that are sustained and calibrated that local trends can be discerned. Through permanent observations, we're already beginning to build this measurement library.
Finally, here in Southeast as well as in the Western Pacific, improving the prediction and the location, timing, strength and storm surge associated with hurricane and typhoon landfalls is of critical importance to the protection of life and property. Offshore measurements advance this cause.
Example information products relevant to the examples of the issues I've just provided are now available on the SEACOOS website, and additional products are being developed. Despite this site's infancy, it has already attracted many users, from local fishermen, ocean information management businesses, and national weather forecasters, who rely daily on this information source.
Pilot projects are in other regions and they have had similar success stories. With advancing technologies, I'm sure that these efforts will continue to expand and provide the information that we need locally as well as at the national and global level.
The technologies that lead this way are emerging as we speak, and I'll turn it back to Ben Sherman who will introduce the next speaker to show you some of those technologies.
MR. SHERMAN: At this point, hopefully we're going to go live to the NOAA research ship, the Ronald H. Brown. It's located in the North Atlantic. It's off – about two and a half miles above the wreck of the Titanic, which was discovered by our next speaker, Dr. Bob Ballard. He's a member of the United States Commission on Ocean Policy, President of the Institute for Exploration, Mystic Aquarium, and he discovered, or rediscovered for the world the wreck of the Titanic in 1985.
Bob, you're live.
DR.. BALLARD: Thank you very much. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to the members of the G8 Summit. As he just said, we are live right now in 12,000 feet of water with our exploratory technology, the Hercules and Argus vehicle system. We're operating from the NOAA's premier research vessel, the Ronald Brown.
As you can see, we're on the stern section of the Titanic. This is one of the large reciprocating engines.
Now, as you've just heard that I've been serving for the last two and a half to three years on the U.S. President's Ocean Commission. And one of the major recommendations of the Ocean Commission program has been to greatly accelerate America 's ocean exploration program.
With me right now on this expedition and a cosponsor of this particular cruise is Captain Craig McLean, who is the Director of NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration Program, and he's going to tell you a little bit about that program.
CAPT. MCLEAN: Thank you, Bob, very much. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I want to particularly extend my greetings to our fellow panelists, Mr. Connaughton and Dr. Spinrad. I believe Mr. Connaughton might have been telling some anecdotes about our scuba diving experiences together, and as long as Mr. Connaughton comes back from each one safely, I'll ascribe my participation in a positive way.
We began in the year 2000 in NOAA with an ocean exploration program that was created by Congress and started with a modest budget of about $4 million. And we began in that year to recruit partnerships from organizations among the major universities in the United States, other federal agencies and international partners. Through that partnership and leveraging, we were able to build a program that gained in budget support and was able to produce different types of scientific results – not the traditional science that is very focused and applied. We have instead relied upon basic science in a model of exploration that beings with mapping, moves on to investigating the topics that are revealed by mapping, and then ultimately finds us communicating that information to the public in a manner that is appealable, understandable, and contributing to, of course, the scientific literature.
We want our results to be generated to the public so that we have a more literate society, more ocean-literate, and better understanding of the issues in the ocean so that we can make better public choices.
We have four key components to our program in NOAA, and these are recommended to us by a national commission that was established to determine an ocean exploration pathway back in the year 2000. The first key component is to map the oceans in an interdisciplinary manner, to map the physical, the biological, geological and archaeological components of the ocean.
The project that we're engaged in now – and you will hear more about shortly from Dr. Ballard – is on the site of the RMS Titanic, but is part of our science and archaeological component. We have geologists, microbiologists, archaeologists, maritime historians, and all different disciplines involved in this expedition.
We also are engaged in science at new scales. That's the second key objective – science at new scales. We can look at areas of the ocean that we have visited previously, but bring new tools to those areas so we can understand them at a greater level of understanding and definition.
Our third area is technology development. We're building on technologies as they may exist today and trying to recruit them to the arsenal of tools that we have in the U.S. ocean science inventory, and also develop new tools – among them autonomous undersea vehicles, such that we can save or economize in the cost of going to sea and acquiring data.
And as we talk about ocean observing, we realize that many of the components that will make an observing system valid and valuable is knowing what the heart of the ocean looks like, what the basic definition of the ocean might be as is revealed by mapping.
The last area, the last key component, is education and outreach – again, to achieve a more ocean-literate society in the United States and globally. We believe that there would be tremendous economic return by this effort because the more that our public understands the values of protecting, preserving and wisely managing a sustainable ocean, we can then have a better standard of living worldwide. We can also be advancing our technical population by recruiting youngsters through exciting projects and exciting activities that are understandable and recruit the next generation of technologists, scientists and experts.
One of the education outreach components that we're very excited about is the partnership that we have with the Institute for Exploration, which is Dr. Ballard's organization that also ties into the University of Rhode Island and brings us to this project. Before I make that final transition, I do want to recognize how we have been very successful in recruiting international partners in all parts of the world, working from pole to pole around the oceans. We've been in, with Dr. Ballard, by the way, the Black Sea, we've been working with Japanese colleagues, Canadian colleagues, French. We've been all over the map and all over the oceans.
Our international component is something that we're very proud of and would like to build on, and I now bring up Dr. Ballard's contributions to this particular mission and the very valuable partnership that we have with the Institute for Exploration and a very visible public figure who can help communicate the value of what we're trying to achieve.
DR. BALLARD: Thank you, Captain. And one of the critical components of ocean exploration, and particularly the showcasing of this technology that we've been doing across America over the last few days, in fact the live broadcast that we did, was an international live broadcast from the deck of the Titanic that took place last night and was transmitted throughout the United States as well as throughout the world.
One of the things that we're trying to do is to perfect the technology of tele-presence, the ability to network people ashore. In a program like ocean exploration, it's very common that when you make a discovery, the expert is not there. And as a result, we have to have the ability to immediately reach out across the planet and find an expert when a ship is in a remote area of the world and makes a discovery.
Let me demonstrate to you how the technology we've developed is bringing this signal to you, because it's also the same way in which we can then network scientists in.
We start with our animation. And we can show you that our vehicle is the Underwater Hercules system. And as that signal comes through the cameras, up a fiber-optic cable, to the command control center to where we are now. EDS then beams that to an international satellite and then down to a network of sites all over the United States. This is the research vessel with our satellite system aboard, and that way we can network all sorts of different sites to an expedition.
On this particular expedition at my host university, the University of Rhode Island 's Graduate School of Oceanography, we had built what we had called the Inner Space Center. The Inner Space Center is to the oceans is what Houston is to outer space. And in that inner space center we've had all day and all during this expedition scientists who are participating in the expedition, and those scientists have the same imagery and the same consoles that I have in front of me right now.
We can replicate this command control center anywhere in the United States on an Internet 2connection. We distribute our entire database on Internet2. Internet2, as you know, is the new high bandwidth, broad bandwidth backbone Internet system that's now in all of the universities of the United States. The cost, just to give you a sense of the costs, the costs of cloning this command control center where the Captain and I are seated, is $25,000. So it is not a huge cost. And we have now begun to build these similar command control centers all over the United States at various participating universities that are involved in NOAA's exploration program.
We are able to talk with them in two-way communications, just as we're talking with you, and they are able to play an active role in an expedition. So that is the new design paradigm that we see that we're going to implement in NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program so that we can explore the uncharted regions of the world and live up to the mandate of the President's Commission to greatly expand NOAA's program in ocean exploration.
What I would like to do now is give you some of the highlights of our expedition that are just concluding of the RMS Titanic. We begin with the bow section. This is the bow of the Titanic. We're on the port side. You can see the port anchor down there. The ship is very deep into the bow, about 60 feet into the bottom. So it's a very short hop from the sediments up to the rail.
You can see the auxiliary anchor right there on the deck, and we are now going to cross over the railing and head onto the deck itself. It's very hard to understand the size of the Titanic. It is a gigantic, or, literally, titanic ship. Those links in the chain, each of those links are two feet in length and they are very difficult to lift one link.
We're now going to run down the center axis. Now, what we've been doing over the last two weeks is to completely re-map the Titanic. As you know, 18 years ago we made a composite mosaic, it's one that's been guiding us on our expeditions. We have now replicated that mosaic, and what we're doing is to see what's happened to the Titanic.
And what we're finding is very little has happened naturally. The ship is very much similar to the ship we investigated 18 years ago, except where submarines have been landing. Over the last several years, submarines have been coming for both salvage operations, filming, tourism, and they have been landing on the deck of the Titanic. And you'll see right here in the upper right-hand corner where it's bright and orange, that is where the submarines have been landing, and they're doing a tremendous amount of damage.
And we'll pivot around and you will see one big oval-shaped footprint. That is a submarine footprint. And so what we need to do, and we're working with the State Department, to create an international treaty to protect the Titanic.
You might want to talk a little bit about that treaty, Captain.
CAPT. MCLEAN: We've been working for the past several years in the international community to develop a protective regime for the Titanic and the instruction of Congress. Congress passed the Memorial Act in 1986, shortly after the original discovery by Dr. Ballard, and the international community shares the sense that the Titanic should be treated as a memorial, among many other subjects.
It is a site of science; that is what we're doing out here. But it is also a maritime memorial to the 1,522 souls that were lost here.
DR. BALLARD: And so what we've done is we've been working with various countries and England, if I'm not mistaken –
CAPT. MCLEAN: Great Britain has signed the treaty.
DR. BALLARD: has signed that treaty. Hopefully, the United States will do that very soon. Critical other nations we would love to have sign it is France and Russia, because they have the submersibles that have been coming here. What we want to do is to encourage people to visit the site, but we want them to come like we have and have no physical contact with the ship.
Just to give you a sense of the specialness of this place, we'd like to take you down into the debris field and show you what we've found in the debris field. And the debris field is, when the ship sank, it went bow-down and broken in half. And a tremendous amount of material in the central portion of the ship fell out.
Well, here, if you could go backwards a little on that one, Tina, and let me – there we go. All right, if you look underwater, you will see these are shoes, and this is where the bodies land. One of the interesting things about the deep sea is that they're removed by organisms. Here is a case of wine. The woodborers eat the wood but leave the bottles behind. But all throughout the debris field we are finding signatures of humans, reflective of the nature of the people aboard.
So, our expedition is concluding. In just the next few minutes, we'll be recovering and going back to the United States to analyze the results of this data, but this telepresent technology is extremely powerful, and we believe that it can have a tremendous impact upon ocean exploration as well as oceanography.
What I'd like to do is let you wrap it up and
CAPT. MCLEAN: Very good. Thank you, Bob. Well, I want to thank our hosts very much. I understand that there are great many people who made this broadcast feasible, particularly at the eleventh hour. I do want to mention the EDS Corporation, V Brick, Host TV, who allowed us to connect and cobble together a number of cables shore-side, and Chameleon Communications, who have been very helpful to us. We also have crews aboard the Ronald H. Brown – we have to thank the NOAA ship Ron Brown and their fine crew. The folks from National Geographic Television published the pictures. There were a number of folks who have jumped into our situation here and really helped make this a lot better.
DR. BALLARD: and they were the ones that hosted the live broadcast the other night.
CAPT. MCLEAN: It shows how many hands make a technical achievement like this feasible, but I share Dr. Ballard's enthusiasm for our ability to bring science to the shore to experts ashore at universities and laboratories, and also to the public, by using technologies such as this.
DR. BALLARD: Thank you very much and we're going to get back to sea and we appreciate the opportunity to have brought you our expedition live from the deck of the Titanic.
MR. SHERMAN: Don't go away too fast because we'll be back to you for some questions and answers in a few moments. But before we do, we have one last speaker here in the auditorium. It's Dr. Alexander Sandy MacDonald, he's the Director of the NOAA Forecast System, and as I indicated, the inventor of the Science on A Sphere exhibit that's down in the filing room. Dr. MacDonald.
DR. MACDONALD: Thank you, Ben. The oceans dominate our planet and the oceans control our lives in many ways. We in NOAA know how important it is for people to understand what our planet is, and that is why we created Science on A Sphere. As the ocean and atmosphere agency, our ability to show people – the public – and the next generation what's happening, the currents, the weather, the El Nino - La Nina cycle – they're all there presented in a very exciting way. So we'd like to invite everybody over the remainder of the conference to come see us and film it and show the people what our plant really looks viewed in many different ways.
MR. SHERMAN: Thank you, Sandy. And now we'll open it up to questions. We have a young lady over here with a microphone. And if you would have a question, please raise your hand and she'll come to you. And we ask that you state your name and affiliation.
Q I was at the – in Johannesburg – and I've covered a lot of conferences with regard to the environment. I'm sorry, gentlemen, I didn't think the ocean was this exciting until today. I think this is fabulous. And congratulations on what you are doing.
My question is, in light of the Law of the Sea Treaty, and the idea that the ocean seabeds and mining needs to be protected, can you address that? And can you tell me if the new enterprise that will be established – or may be established, depending on whether or not Congress ratifies this treaty – if, how that will affect what is happening right now in the oceans. Being a novice, I would imagine that anybody can go out in the ocean and do anything they want. But it seems to me from what I'm hearing, I am assuming that there needs to be more policing and protection of what is happening and I would assume that would be costly not only to enforce, but also the fees to collect.
MR. SHERMAN: We'll let Dr. Connaughton answer that.
DR. CONNAUGHTON: The Law of Sea Treaty is an important component, and the frameworks that are set out there that we've been now working with for nearly 30 years. Our key components as we reach further and further beyond our coastlines the U.S. Government has actually been implementing nearly every chapter of the Law of the Sea Treaty since it was first adopted. We are now looking for Senate ratification in order to we had to make some improvements to sections regarding the very economic enterprises we talked about, especially the deep-sea mining components of the that. That sets in place the initial framework. We are still as an international community working our way through those issues and it begins with items what you just saw here this common international excitement and interest in these archaeological fascinating and archaeological treasures such as the Titanic, it, you know, calls for this kind of international coordination and common cause and common agreement. I think with the Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea it will draw new found attention to both its ability to delivery security benefits for the nation, and economic benefits, as well as some very important enhancements to our ability to do oceans conservation.
And, again, we have a treaty going on right now, discussions going on with respect to the Titanic. In Johannesburg, I think you were right – I was there as well – there were a lot of moving pieces and there were a lot of polity wonks and scientists. And I love the scientists, but it's – when you see it for real and the ability to visualize what you just saw here today – it's those powerful tools that bring it to the people and bring them closer. It's also things as simple as movies like “Finding Nemo” have a profound effect on connecting people with this rich natural resource that actually plays an integral part in their day-to-day life.
MR. SHERMAN: Again, please state your name and affiliation and who you would like the question directed to.
Q Can we still talk to Dr. Ballard or only to people in the auditorium?
MR. SHERMAN: No, we can speak to Dr. Ballard, I believe.
Q This question is for Dr. Ballard. Dr. Ballard, you have mentioned that it is an ongoing thing, the archaeological mapping of the oceans. So after the Titanic, what kind of major ocean archeological sites you would name?
DR. BALLARD: Well, since finding the Titanic, as you know, we've gone to various other historical sites. We discovered the remains of the British – German battleship Bismarck, the aircraft carrier Yorktown from the Battle of the Midway. We've made a number of discoveries of maritime ships of fairly recent – World War I and World War II – but most of our work, and I'm associated with the graduate school of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, and there we have created the new instituted called The Institute for Archaeological Oceanography.
We've been working a great deal over the last several years in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. We have found Roman ships Phoenician ships, Carthaginian ships, Greek ships – and what we're beginning to realize – and this is why it's very important, particularly for this assembled group, is that the deep sea is a museum. It contains more history than all of the museums of the world combined and yet there's no laws covering a vast majority of it. A great deal of it is a risk. And we need to have international cooperation to preserve the history, the cultural history of our cultures through time.
What I'm concerned about is the technology that we have developed is now entering the private sector and is now being used by salvage operations and other operations to go out to sites and recover things before they have been properly documented. So I have tremendous concern that the pyramids of the deep, the museums of the deep, are going to be plundered and that we really need international cooperation. We need it now because we are finding more and more and more ships of antiquity. And quite honestly, the time to do it is now, because the commercial interests have not yet to develop. And it's now time to create international laws to protect cultural sites.
MR. SHERMAN: Thank you. Is there any other questions out here? Please identify yourself and whom you'd like it directed to.
Q One of you touched briefly on security concerns with regard to this technology, and it does occur to me that a lot of this technology might indeed have military uses. And I was curious: How much of your mandate in developing this technology specifically reference security concerns and/or military uses?
MR. SHERMAN: Dr. Spinrad will answer that.
DR. SPINRAD: The first critical point is that in all of these discussions we have coordinated very closely with those international entities associated with security – the United States, the U.S. Navy has been a key player in many of the discussions associated with observations. Clearly, there are benefits associated with homeland security and national security in obtaining these observations. I would point out, for example, that the United States Navy has over a 150-year history of collecting these kinds of data. But there's also a sensitivity to the global availability, the open access to the data, and that has been a fundamental principle of most all of these discussions and, in fact, the Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission has been a key player in trying to address the availability of those data. And finally, that principle – the availability of those data, the open availability of the data – is a principal tenet of this Global Earth Observation System of Systems.
MR. SHERMAN: Thank you. Is there other questions out there?
Okay, we would like to thank you for coming. Thank you, Dr. Ballard and Captain. McLean, for joining us. Today's briefing is concluded. Dr. Spinrad and Dr. Connaughton will be available right now, as well as Dr. Jahnke, for any one-on-one interviews. And Dr. MacDonald and his staff will be available at the Science on A Sphere in the filing room area.
Source: Official G8 Sea Island site
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