|The Ocean: What's Down There?|
|Written by Robert D. Ballard|
Modern research now suggests that all humans on the face of the earth come from a common ancestry that can be traced back to the plains of eastern Africa, and that during the last 200,000 years our ancestors journeyed forth from their birth place to populate the planet. First across the large Euro-Asian land mass and finally into the new world during the waning years of the Great Ice Age just a few tens of thousands of years ago.
Many factors led to the global expansion of our forefathers, the excitement of exploration, a driving desire to escape oppression, a lust for economic gain or simply in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. For whatever the reason, the fact remains our species now dominates the planet, we have all but conquered many of the forces that held us in check for oh so many millennia. Instead of being controlled by the forces of nature, we are now beginning to control nature itself. Our activities have altered the ozone layer, led to a buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere, begun the destruction of the rain forest, and the continued premature extinction of many plants and animals we once lived in harmony with.
Some demographers now tell us that there are more people alive today than have ever died since our species began to populate the planet, and that number will double again while we struggle through the next century. Despite the rhetoric of the need for population control, we continue to multiply, entering an era where reproduction is now endangering our existence instead of ensuring our survival. During the Rio Convention on the Environment, for example, the impact of global population on the environment was not a major topic of discussion. It is still not a politically correct issue to raise. Perhaps the tombstone of our species will read, "The human race came and went because it was politically correct."
But I am not here to tell you how to control the world's population. Even repressive measures in some countries have failed to accomplish that. I am an undersea explorer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who would like to talk about man's relationship with the sea and what I think the future holds based upon our continued growth and need for more space.
Despite our globe-trotting abilities, our species has not colonized any new land masses on the planet since the colonization of the new world which began in the fifteenth century. And let us not forget that the new world was already inhabited by our species long before Columbus first arrived in the Bahamas in 1492.
Today the primary activities of our species are still confined to less than twenty percent of the planet, historically held at bay by an aquatic world that resisted our colonizing ways.
Instead of turning to the sea, we turned our eyes and our hearts to the heavens, convinced that if we only tried we could swim in the canals of Mars or grow tomatoes on the surface of Venus. Like superman's race, which, despite its intelligence, destroyed its mother planet of Crypton and escaped Earth, for many years we have been telling ourselves that we could escape our destruction of the earth and flee into space. Space was a convenient way out--a way we could avoid facing up to the destructive consequences of our unchecked behavior.
To me, however, the most important image to come out of the space program was when an astronaut on his way to the moon trained his cameras back on Earth and captured an image of a very small green-blue planet imbedded in a black velvet void of nothingness.
Ironically, we now have better topographic maps of Venus than Earth. We know more about the physiography of small volcanic cones on the far side of the moon than of similar features in our own exclusive economic zone off America. When President Reagan signed the bill creating the EEZ, the size of America doubled, yet most of this modern-day Louisiana Purchase remains unexplored. And vast expanses of ocean floor in the Southern Hemisphere have never had an oceanographic research ship pass overhead.
The largest single feature on the surface of the planet is the Mid-Ocean Ridge, which runs around earth like the seam of a baseball, covering almost one quarter of the planet's total surface area. Yet, despite its tremendous size and the critical role it plays in the origin of the earth's outer skin, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and others played golf and drove around in cars there before the first human entered the largest feature on Earth, when they dove to the Mid-Ocean Ridge's great rift valley in 1973.
There are more active volcanoes underwater than on land, great plains that dwarf those in America, canyons far grander than the Grand Canyon, and the mighty Rocky Mountains would fit into a small portion of the Mid-Ocean Ridge.
Given the emergence of advanced robotic technology, fiberoptics, micro-processors, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, telecommunications, and many other new advances, the ocean is no longer a barrier to human activity. The deep abyss is now our backyard and working at 20,000 feet, which represents 98 percent of the world's oceans, has become routine.
Given our exploding population, given our diminished interest in the promises of the space program, and given the continued development of advanced technology, I truly believe the 21st century will usher in an explosion in human activity in the sea. I am convinced the next generation will explore more of earth, that is the 71 percent that lies underwater, than all previous generations combined.
Just as Lewis and Clark's exploration of the Louisiana Purchase led to the settling of the west, the exploration of the sea will lead to its subsequent colonization. The gathering and hunting of the living resources of the sea, an activity characteristic of primitive societies on land, will be replaced at sea by farming and herding. High-tech barbwire in the form of acoustic, thermal, or other barrier techniques will emerge to control and manage the sea's living resources. The same debates over the destruction of the rain forest's diversity on land in favor of ranching and farming will repeat itself as the great bio-diversity of the barrier reefs of the world are threatened by large-scale farming of the sea.
Oil and gas exploration and exploitation will continue moving into deeper and deeper depths. We have already discovered and mapped oil and gas reserves down to 12,000 feet, which represents the average depth of the ocean, and each year the oil industry brings production wells on line in waters deeper than the previous year.
Underwater parks, memorials, and reserves will expand in size and scope until the Titanic, if there is anything left, is easily visited by tourists using teleoperated robots from the comfort of their home-based telecommunications center. When ships and other pieces of human history fall into the deep sea, they enter a deep freeze characterized by eternal darkness, freezing temperatures, and enormous pressures. Some estimate that there is more human history preserved in Davy Jones' locker than all of the museums in the world combined.
During the six centuries that marked the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, Imperial Rome lost more than 10,000 commercial ships in the deep waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a small sea off the west coast of Italy. Last year we discovered and explored many of the allied and Japanese ships lost in the cold deep waters of Iron Bottom Sound--ships which still have their camouflage paint clearly visible, their torpedo tubes still loaded, and depth charges resting in their racks--ships with their main guns still pointed at one another as if the battle was still going on.
The Black Sea and its anaerobic bottom water will give up some of the oldest and best-preserved wooden ships in the world, perhaps lost in similar time that Jason and his Argonauts traversed these same waters in search of the Golden Fleece.
On a far less glamorous note, landfills will give way to the placement of waste in the vast abyssal deserts of the deep. Perhaps the storage of nuclear material will follow. We cannot continue to place our waste material in our backyard only to have it pass through the drinking glasses of our children on its gravitational journey to the sea. We continue to hope for solutions to our waste problems, which are not coming fast enough to keep up with our exploding population and the creation of complex waste products.
Our present strategy goes something like this. If we force people to live in their waste, they will think of ways to clean it up. By placing it in the sea, it's out of sight, out of mind, and a solution will not be sought, even if placement in the sea is a wise choice. Present law now forbids us from even the opportunity to find out if it is dangerous to place some of our waste in the deep sea.
Dare we gamble with the lives of the next generation on a prayer and a dream by continuing to pollute our drinking water? Even when you include the heavy taxation on gasoline, high octane at the pump costs less per volume than Perrier and the price of drinking water will only rise, until wine is a cheaper alternative. People are already living in their waste and solutions still elude us.
In recent years, we have discovered major mineral deposits in the deep sea similar to those mined for centuries on the island of Cyprus. They contain high concentrations of copper, lead, and sulfur, as well as silver and gold. And their formation continues today in the vast hydrothermal vent systems of the Mid-Ocean Ridge. These mineral deposits will be processed using the very geothermal energy that drives the crustal processes that lead to their formation. Some of these magnificent vent areas will also become the Yellowstone Parks of the deep sea leading to future arguments over their commercial versus tourist value.
The unique chemosynthetic life forms that presently process the toxic material associated with the vent communities will hopefully be bio-engineered to convert a portion of our waste products into less harmful or even commercially valuable by-products. These exotic creatures will also help us understand the early origin of life on our planet as well as the potential for life on other planets we once ruled out for their lack of friendly nearby sun. Other marine forms will prove to be important players in future pharmaceuticals. We know, for example, that hydrothermal-vent animals process carcinogenic material yet have no tumors.
Whether this all occurs during the next generation's time on earth, time will only tell. But the seeds of all that I have said can already be found in programs presently underway.
Last summer, for example, I traveled to the waters off the Irish coast where the great luxury liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat in 1917 helping to precipitate America's entrance into World War I. That expedition, which was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, is just the first step in a long-term program to not only explore this historic shipwreck in hopes of solving a long-standing controversy over its potentially lethal cargo, but also to begin the process of making the Lusitania the first in-situ museum on the floor of the ocean accessed from shore-based visitor centers using remotely controlled robots.
But if America hopes to play a leadership role in this brave new future, we must prepare the next generation to meet this challenge. For the last five years, the JASON Foundation, which I helped create, along with EDS and National Geographic, has sought to prepare that generation by taking hundreds of thousands of young students on live voyages of exploration and discovery to the far reaches of our planet. A few months ago, during our exploration of the rain forest and great barrier reef of Belize, more than 400,000 students and 10,000 teachers studied a difficult science curriculum for the opportunity to explore live the beautiful bio-diversity of these unique ecosystems, using satellite downlink sites around the world from which they were also to take control of our exploration robot and operate it from thousands of miles away.
Better understanding the oceans and the land surface beneath it is critical to our understanding of the planet as a whole. For I think of Earth as a live, breathing organism on whose back we live. Yet the collective actions of the human race now threaten Earth's very existence.
The continued growth of our global population is the single most important issue facing our survivability. And although study of the oceans is important, they will not provide the human race with a place to expand. The vast majority of our planet lives in total darkness, in freezing cold water, under tremendous pressure, and covered with featureless mud plains. No human should be sentenced to live there. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to live in the dead sea.
The more I explore the ocean, the more I appreciate that small segment of Earth that is green and sunlit, that small segment our unchecked population growth is rapidly destroying.
The rain forests of the world, which cover over five-to-eight percent of our planet's surface area, contain 80 percent of all the green vegetation of the continents. Yet we are cutting them down at a rate of 21 million acres a year. In eighty more years they are gone, and so is the tremendous diversity of life that lives there.
Preserving one acre of land in Minnesota is a wonderful act of preservation, but in no way is it equal to protecting one acre of rain forest.
Thank you very much.
Bill Moyers: And he finished on time at 11:35. Tell us when the last judgment is coming and we'll be there with you to watch it.
Robert Ballard: I made a distinction, a very important distinction, between grave-robbing and archaeology. These are fundamentally different. When you have the engineering drawings of the Titanic, when you have all the artifacts you could possibly want from her sister ship, the Olympic, this is not an archaeological site. The Olympic was meticulously disassembled. All of her finery was collected and is available in museums, and private collections.
There wasn't anything truly to be learned. When I found the Titanic, I went to the Smithsonian. I went to the British Museum. And I asked the professionals if there was any value in us recovering anything from the Titanic, and they said, No.
But ships of antiquity--pages in human history that are blank--are another story. I have no problem working with archaeologists. There were a lot of blanks to fill in. So that's the distinction I make.
Also, more importantly, when we saw the Titanic's bow sitting upright on the bottom, or the Bismarck, or Titanic's other sister, the Britannic--they are all in a high state of preservation.
Britannic is the most beautiful ship I've ever seen on the ocean floor. She is completely intact. Nothing has ever been taken from her, and, fortunately, she's in Greek waters so she's under legal jurisdiction of a contiguous state.
I'm working now with the Greek government and the Liverpool Museum--Maritime Museum to use our technology to make the Britannic the first in-situ museum. Let Mother Nature, at no cost, provide the electricity to freeze her and to keep her in a state of suspended animation, accessible electronically.
The Monitor, which was sunk off of Hatteras--and the Arizona in Pearl Harbor, are other examples of ships that have historical value but not archaeological value and should be left on the bottom.
Guadalcanal is a battlefield that could easily be visited on the information highway in the next decade. Hertz and Avis will begin renting robots on the information highway, and you will visit these places electronically. But if there's a place, if there's a piece of history that we do not understand and do not know about, archaeological excavation is certainly appropriate. In fact, I strongly encourage it.
Barto Arnold: Well, when we started the discussion session, I was sitting in awe of the potential of the deep ocean, archaeologically and historically. The distinction is to be made between fairly modern wrecks and wrecks that are historic sites or grave sites. The Titanic should be considered a tomb. And an archaeological site would have more antiquity (than the Titanic). There are still people around whose parents died on the Titanic, and that requires a different kind of treatment.
Robert Ballard: People who were born are still alive.
Barto Arnold: And the ships that sank in World War II are literally war graves. There are agreements between the countries that they're to be considered war graves and not messed with.
Robert Ballard: So that's a huge difference.
Bill Moyers: Bob, can you give us some measure of the cost of one of these expeditions?
Robert Ballard: Surprisingly, not terribly expensive.
Bill Moyers: You're in Texas, remember. I mean, all things are relative.
Robert Ballard: Well, thanks to the National Geographic Society, thanks to Nova, they invested less than a million dollars in various projects and recouped it all.
Bill Moyers: From?
Robert Ballard: From the video and television specials that they have made on exploration, and the home distribution of the TV specials. They actually netted a profit. But all the expeditions I've ever done with National Geographic, they've turned a profit. And there's nothing wrong with that.
This last summer's expedition in search of the Roman shipwrecks, the total cost of the expedition was about $200,000 total cost. So they're not terribly expensive.
Bill Moyers: You hear the murmur from the crowd. I mean, how can it cost so little.
Robert Ballard: First place, with the technology we have, we don't have to stay very long. The whole expedition searching the Roman trade routes lasted ten days. We were able to take advantage of the Navy going over there, using one of their ships. We paid all the costs the Navy incurred, which was mostly gasoline and expendables, and any costs they incurred.
But even our oceanographic ships, the robot Jason, costs about $5,000 a day to use. And you're working 24 hours a day. That's the important thing. You're on the bottom 24 hours a day round the clock.
It's a powerful technology. We did an expedition recently where we networked all the scientists from shore. They were in their laboratories. So we didn't have to pay to send them out there. We didn't have to pay to have them sit around and wait for their opportunity. We call them up and say, We're ready to do your experiment. We did this in the Sea of Cortez with scientists.
So the ability to network people and not cause them to have to go out to sea and sit around and wait is the real power of our emerging technology.
Barto Arnold: I would take issue just mildly in terms of cost. Working at sea in oceanography is several times--several orders of magnitude more money than most archaeologists or historians can get their hands on. So, even though the efficiencies are being multiplied tremendously, and I certainly agree with that, most archaeologists and historians don't get their hands on this kind of money.
Robert Ballard: Correct. But most of them don't have to go to 20,000 feet either.
Barto Arnold: That's right.
Robert Ballard: And so it's a question of balance. There's a huge difference between zero and something, and these were the first ships ever discovered in the deep sea. So it isn't like there's a lot of it going on. There's just a few of us.
Bill Moyers: I may have missed it. Did you say that in the cellar of the Black Sea . . .
Robert Ballard: There's no oxygen.
Bill Moyers: I heard that. But do we know yet what the effects of that are? Do you have any pictures?
Robert Ballard: Well, we know the effects of an anaerobic setting in total darkness in cold water. You couldn't ask for a better preserver. The average depth of the central portion of the Black Sea is 7,000 feet. We know that it's been traversed for millenniums. The Greeks went into the Black Sea, much like the Hudson Bay Company into Canada, around 850 B.C. and began to trade with the barbarians. And we know that they lost a good percentage of their ships traversing from the Crimea to the tip of Turkey called Sinop.
No one has ever searched those trade routes ever. It wasn't a friendly place for America until fairly recently. But now we can go in, and I'm very excited about being the first person to explore those trade routes because I think we have the potential of making some really truly fundamental discoveries.
Barto Arnold: Though I think that's right, there are a couple of wrecks from the War of 1812 in the Great Lakes that still have the masts standing and so on.
Robert Ballard: That's fresh water, right.
Barto Arnold: That's fresh water. And in the anaerobic environment, I fully expect to see the masts standing and the ships intact.
Robert Ballard: Sailors draped over their oars.
Barto Arnold: Archaeologists joke about the public having a concept of shipwrecks with the captain lashed to the wheel. Well, you may be finding that coming up pretty soon.
Robert Ballard: I think it's--well it's exciting, and that's what exploration's all about.
Bill Moyers: Until I heard you a moment ago, I never understood the meaning of that poetic reference to old indefatigable. Time's right-hand man--the sea. And I see that the sea is an ally of time there.
Robert Ballard: Very much so. More so than I ever thought, and I think more than any of us ever thought until we began to find human history in the deep.
Bill Moyers: There's a microphone here if any of you would like to move to it and ask a question.
Question: What is the deepest point on the face of the earth? Where is that?
Robert Ballard: It's the Marianna's Trench.
Bill Moyers: Where is that?
Robert Ballard: It's off Guam. It's in Challenger Deep. The Marianna's Trench--and the spot is called Challenger Deep because it was found by the H.M.S. Challenger--is 35,800 feet.
Bill Moyers: How does that compare to the Gulf?
Robert Ballard: A bit deeper. I think the Gulf bottoms out about 15,000.
Tony Amos: 3,900 meters.
Robert Ballard: Yes, so 10,000. So it's one-third.
Steve Harrigan: I'd like to ask Robert Ballard and Mary Altalo the same question concerning potential unknown creatures. In this century, we discovered--or somebody's discovered the sea coelacanth or rediscovered this fish that was thought to be extinct off the Indian Ocean. In the last decade, the megamouth shark was discovered. As far as I know, no one had ever known about him before.
What about in the bottom of this great trench where life is being created in these thermophilic organisms. Where do you speculate that food chain ends up? Is there, you know, an abominable snowman down there in these underwater mountain ranges?
Robert Ballard: Mary? She's the biologist.
Mary Altalo: Yes, but he knows about the deep sea organisms.
Robert Ballard: Well, we'll do it together. You first.
Mary Altalo: The food-chain dynamics is a very, very interesting question. And, again, it's one of those things that we have to keep going back to try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It's very difficult to speculate, and I think what we're finding, too, is that various localities and the various regions, because they have such different populations, very often you can't totally extrapolate between the food-chain dynamics of one area and another. I really can't speculate on the top grazer, so to speak.
Robert Ballard: The fascinating thing about hydrothermal vent systems is that they occur in very primitive volcanic terrain. In fact, most of us now are recommending that when future probes go to Mars, go inside the lava tubes and look around. Don't look on the surface. What's wonderful about the ocean is, because it's fluid it has an incredible coupling capability. It does it acoustically, but it does it chemically. Lobsters are able to send out a scent when the female is ready to reproduce. And this is sent off into the water.
You could have an extremely sophisticated life-driven chemical system that we can't even think of right now that could be existing in that trench. It's certainly been around a long time. It's been around billions of years.
Wes Tunnell: Part of my training is in malacology. That's not malecology, bad ecology. It is the study of the phylum Mollusca, the shells of the sea. And one of the areas of study, the cephalopods, show us the largest invertebrates to go to this giant size we may be thinking about. The largest cephalopod that is known is the giant squid that lives in the deep sea, and the largest one of record is about 60 feet in length. The body is 12 of those feet, and the tentacles or arms are 48 feet.
The whalers have noted that the giant squid will leave scars from the suckers that they hold onto--sounds kind of Jules Verne's here, doesn't it--onto the side of the sperm whale which feeds upon the giant squid. Whalers tell us that they have found scars that are 9 inches in diameter on the sperm whale. So can we multiply it by three and assume that there are 180 foot squid, or invertebrates, out there? Jules Verne might have been right.
Robert Ballard: I also understand their growth is tied to El NiÒo, the absence of it. They're basically food-chain driven--that is, they grow to large dimensions if the food's available and don't otherwise.
Steven Weinberg: I wanted to ask Robert Ballard what happened to the guns on the Bismarck? They seem to be missing.
Robert Ballard: The guns on the Bismarck, her four main guns, Anton, Bruno, Caesar, and Dora, were gravity seated. And when she scuttled herself, she uniformly flooded all her compartments, and, as a result, she rolled over instead of pitched down like Titanic. The last time everyone saw her, she was completely upside down. At that moment, they fell free--they fell out of their gravity seats. We found them on the bottom upside down.
But then on the way down after the scuttling holes flooded out all the air and she was fully flooded, she remembered her bottom was heavy, and she rolled back and landed upright.
William Levin: I'd like to ask Robert Ballard what is the genesis of the anaerobic environment of the Black Sea, and are there other seas that are anaerobic?
Robert Ballard: Well, the Black Sea is a very unique body of sea. Think of it in the form of a bath tub. It's very much like a bath tub. It falls off very quickly off the coast of Turkey. You're in very deep water within a few miles. Think of a bath tub with an overflow valve where the water only gets out when you fill it too high and it floods out the top. It doesn't have a main plug you can pull out. So the water can only get out of the Black Sea along the top.
The Black Sea is saline. It's a salt-water body of water. The water coming into it is fresh water from the rivers of Eurasia. So you have a fresh body of water coming onto a saline body of water. The fresh water floats in the top of it. It only drains at a 90-foot sill.
More importantly, the rate of influx of water into the Black Sea is equal to the outflow plus evaporation. So it takes 2,700 years to turn it over once. As a result, below 200 meters, 600 feet, it's oxygen free.
Question: I would like to ask Robert Ballard a question. Recently in the Gulf of Mexico, Alvin has been down and poked one of its arms on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, and they have witnessed oil coming to the surface. My question is--first, a two-part question. Have you actually been down in the Gulf of Mexico in any of your dives, and, secondly, do you believe that oil does, in fact, flow freely without any kind of a jogging action by something, like Alvin's arm?
Robert Ballard: Well, I'll give that a shot. I've been in the Gulf of Mexico. I haven't dove in areas of organic concentrations. But I have dove in the Sea of Cortez, the Gulf of California. And there you have hydrothermal vents that have been buried by a tremendous amount of organic material coming out of the Colorado River.
You have thousands of feet of very rich organic sediments that have buried these underwater hydrothermal vents. Despite the fact that they've buried them, the hot water still finds it way up through that organic mass. It's coming out at a temperature of about 400 degrees centigrade, so it's hot enough to melt lead.
And on its way up, this geothermal energy has cracked out petroleum. As Mother Nature does it over a much longer period of time. Around the hydrothermal vents in the Sea of Cortez you have natural oil seeps of organics that are just flowing out of the bottom of the ocean without us having to poke our hands into them.
So I know that it occurs there. We all know that natural oil seeps are very common phenomena, having gone to school at U.C.-Santa Barbara and walked the beaches.
Question: I wanted to ask about what happens when the magma comes up. It's being depleted, I would suppose. And is this having any impact on the volume inside and the crust of the earth?
Robert Ballard: Yes. A very good question. You would think that the earth is bleeding out its insides and might become hollow inside. Where the plates come together, one of the plates, and normally the oceanic plate when it hits a continent it goes under the continent. It recycles that ocean floor and puts it back into the earth to make up for the difference.
So it's a beautiful global balance. You have Earth being formed and a equal volume of Earth being destroyed. It's in a beautiful steady-state balance. The earth is neither expanding nor contracting as best we can determine.
Now, creation on the Mid-Ocean Ridge may be compensated by consumption of old ocean floor thousands of miles away.
Bill Moyers: I have the last question. I was thinking as I saw your photographs there on those sunken mountains how ecstatically enraptured the world was when we watched the first man walk on the moon and how woefully unaware we were when you were down there prowling the genesis of our planet. It leads to a practical question. Can you compare the amount of money being spent right now on basic research of the science into space to the basic research into the ocean?
Robert Ballard: Well, the investment in our oceans is small. In fact, the royalty that oil companies pay to drill oil is not, by our government, reinvested. The government is doing ocean work at the profit. If they just gave us what the oil companies gave them, we would be in great shape.
To me the most important thing to come out of the space program was when the astronauts looked back over their shoulder on their way to the moon and saw Earth. They saw this little green marble in this giant void of nothingness. And all of a sudden the world became very small. I think we've not totally come to grips with how finite our world is, particularly when you realize we only live on 28 percent of that which is called Earth.
We're about to enter a new millennium and I hope in the next couple of years we start thinking about our mission as a species. We're entering a new millennium. What are we going to do in it? And I'd like to see some big thinking start to take place.
William Crook: We're going to break now for lunch. We have a rather light lunch for you, which helps us at a certain age to stay awake in the afternoon.
I want to mention tonight and some of the problems we're going to have with traffic. This is a big day for Corpus Christi with the lighting of the harbor lights tonight, which you'll see. They have parades all day long. So those of you who are going to drive out, please talk to Colleen. She has a map for you. If you can possibly go by the bus, we suggest that you do so. But it's going to require a little detour rather than straight down Ocean Drive.
Please be prompt. You were this morning. We appreciate it. We've deliberately planned a short afternoon. The business meeting today will be brief but very, very important. We're entering that new century Bob was talking about. We've got a lot of decisions as a society to make. Elspeth Rostow was saying yesterday about her committee--we're planning what this society should be in the state of Texas for the next hundred years.
We want you to participate. I especially invite the new members because it will give you a glimpse of the inner workings of the society. Enjoy your lunch.
William Crook: Sorry if I sound a bit pushy, but I'll never have this chance to influence such a crowd again, so I'm going to enjoy it. Come right on in.
I introduced Judith Moyers this morning and said she was the 60 percent asset in their partnership because she has shared in every accomplishment that Bill has made. I want to introduce my 60 percent partner, Eleanor, if she will stand please.
I should have known you wouldn't let me get by with what I told you this morning about Bill Moyers's question on the airplane--on Air Force One when he asked the President, "What are you thinking?" The President replied, "I'm wondering, Are the missiles flying?" Those four words, I think, describe the burdens that our presidents in the past fifty years have had to carry, burdens that we've been very much unaware of. But they also tell us that they aren't flying.
This would be a wonderful time to catch up with the research, move ahead with world hunger, move ahead with the other problems of disease confronting the earth. The money spent and wasted on the Bismarck alone would go a long way toward that. If we don't tear this republic to shreds by the shrillness that we're hearing now, by the alienation that seems to be taking place, this country has nothing but a great, great future.
We started with the oceans in the broadest sense. I did not know the interconnectedness of the sky and the sea and the earth. Mary Altalo has put it in terms that even I can understand. We moved on to be more specific as to what's down there. Now, this afternoon we come to study something very special to every Texan's heart--that's the Gulf of Mexico.
Corpus Christi now has the sixth largest port in the United States. We know what the Gulf means to us in terms of commerce and resources, and we need to hear as much about the future of that Gulf, and what we may be doing to her, as we possibly can. I turn the program back to Bill Moyers.
Bill Moyers: Thank you, Bill. Bill and I retreated upstairs during lunch to evaluate the morning's event and to collect our thoughts for the afternoon and the finale tomorrow. And at a moment while he was on the phone, I stood at the window of the room looking at an angle through which I could only see the Gulf. I couldn't see the room to the left or to the right. I couldn't see the beach below me. For a moment the only world that existed for me was the world of the Gulf, which so many of you know so intimately and so fondly on a daily basis.
And I suddenly realized what it was like to be the fish I talked about earlier, to live so uniquely affiliated to this body of water. It was the only view I had of the world at that particular moment.
On any one of the last 2,420 mornings, if you had gone for a walk on the beaches of Port Aransas some twenty miles from here, you would have come upon the solitary figure of Tony Amos. Regardless of the elements, wind, rain, temperature, he walks the shore to collect the telltale evidence that nature presents to the vigilant eye concerned for even the most microscopic change in the health of our environment.
I should think it boring duty for a man who has cruised all the world's oceans and most of its seas, the veteran of thirty-two expeditions to the Antarctic and five to the Arctic, including several months floating on the polar pack ice. But for eighteen years now, out of love and not duty, he has been making a long-term study of Mustang Island gulf beach. He is widely known in the scientific community for having introduced scientific rigor to the study of beach litter along the Gulf.
He's the only man I know who actually holds a permit to handle sea turtles, dolphins, and migratory birds. And given what we now know about the ecology of our planet, he must sometimes think that when holding one of these creatures, he indeed has the whole world in his hand.An Englishman by birth, he is now the official United States weather observer for Port Aransas, Texas, and he always gets it right. Tony Amos.