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Peter Fend

November 3 - December 5, 2012
Opening November 3rd, 6-8pm

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In 2012, Governor Cuomo said, on the question of hydrofracking to produce methane gas, “Let the science dictate the conclusion, and thatʼs just what we propose to do.” Science already dictated… thirty years ago.

In 1982, scientists from throughout the U.S. and China, now the worldʼs two largest economies, gathered in a conference organized by NY Stateʼs Sea Grant Institute to report on harvesting of sea-plants to yield methane gas. The scientists recommended that $10 billion be invested to develop a seaweed industry. This never happened.
In oil industry terms, $10 billion is a reasonable amount. But Big Oil would not invest in a waterplant scenario, even though itʼs published by government scientists. Why? Because rigs and rafts in open waters, offshore or inland, cannot be owned like drilling rigs and oilfields. In addition, since it involves local ecosystems, the knowledge required must be local, not techno-global. Thus, giant companies like Halliburton are not attracted. They need something very proprietary, like fracking and deep sea drilling.

Now, in 2012, France, Bulgaria, Romania and South Africa all ban fracking. And they all own the water-plant resources, especially at sea, needed to build a solar-indirect methane-gas industry. South Africaʼs decision is particularly significant, because only months ago there was much talk about that country having huge potential for fracking. Clearly, people in the government and power structure there are thinking long-term. New York State can team up with those countries, as well as Vermont, the first U.S. state to ban fracking, and New Jersey, which has banned fracked water, to build a think-local, work-local renewable-resource economy.

Why begin in New York? Offshore, New York has excellent conditions for the fast-growth macroalgae that can be fermented to produce methane: a constant flow of nutrient-rich seawater from Labrador and Greenland. And inland, NY has many nutrient-rich lakes and reservoirs. This is a real prospect. But it wonʼt happen if we leave the investment choice to oil companies. It will happen with bay-by-bay, basin-by-basin organization. We show this. The bottom line is, we have lived through Peak Oil. Alternatives must be found. Why not work together with our ecosystems, rather than—through bizarre drilling schemes—against them? Where this can happen, with what tools, and what investments, appears at the gallery named after manʼs best friend and exercising Artʼs function in Society, of emergence.

Opening November 3rd, 6-8pm through November 18, because Governor Cuomo has listened to the 140-strong Artists Against Fracking and is NOW opening up to new options. We bring to the discourse decades of art-based and science-liaised work with holdfast rigs, harvesting boats, hauling nets and fermentation sequences, all tested in the UK, France, Germany, Holland and New Zealand. Fend works through the artist/architect firm Ocean Earth Development Corporation.

By Peter Fend

NY State faces two threats:
- Sea-level rise and unusually severe storms
- Fracking as a source of methane, releasing fossil fuel (which causes global warming),
and causing geological instability and the potential for irrevocable contamination of our
water supply.

Both threats come from petroleum drilling companies. It is not fair for us to pay the price.

The first threat is singled by even the China Daily, in a lead editorial of Nov 1. The second has been challenged by a 140-strong Artists against Fracking.

Science is to be consulted, Governor Cuomo says.

But 30 years ago, in 1982, prominent scientists from throughout the U.S. and China conferred in Stony Brook, New York, under sponsorship of the NY State Sea Grant Institute, on an engineering/science collaboration to effect large-scale seaweed and seagrass industry to yield methane, and from that electricity. They recommended a $10B investment. This did not happen.

Why? Because Petroleum companies saw little profit for them in such a locality, ecosystem based industry.

We in NY State are now living through the costs of fossil-fuel dependence.

If a waterplant-to-gas and -electricity industry were established, the absurdity of a Lower Manhattan without power wouldn't have happened.

Not to mention that the energy would not come from fossil fuels, which release heat into our modern atmosphere that was stored up thousands of years ago.

When you ferment algae for energy, you are harvesting this yearʼs solar energy, which has been temporarily captured by a plant. Since all the energy comes from this yearʼs solar cycle, it does not add to the heat load of the planet.

This is why algae fermentation does not contribute to global warming.

Right now, given the legacy of Katrina, Irene and Sandy, we can expect another sea-rise disaster next Fall. Shall we expect the city to be shut down for weeks once every year?

The choice is clear: act now on the recommendations of nationally prominent scientists in now the world's top two economies to have an electricity and methane for NY city, NY State and their neighbors by Summer 2013. Thus, we can also pre-empt the danger from fracking. China and the US are No. 2 and 1 in shale gas reserves. Could it be that, in following the recommendations of China and US scientists from over a generation ago, those shale gas reserves could end up not being drilled?

We have one year to get ready for the next storm


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