22 Mar’15 ~QofDay~ World Water Day 2015

World Water Day March 22 – Tell about some wonderful experiences you’ve had involving water.

I’ve spent most of my life on, around or under water.

So many great times that it is hard to choose one.

Water skiing was one of my favourite things to do in my twenties and thirties. We used to ski about 100 days a year – for a couple of hours most days.

For many years I would go out to the Miranda Hot Springs most days, and spend a couple of hours swimming in the evenings. The pool was the old Olympic standard (50 yards), and I would practice doing two lengths underwater on a single breath.
Sometimes I would just sit on the bottom of the pool, and bring my heart rate right down – to around 20 beats a minute, and stay there for up to seven and a half minutes.
So peaceful in warm water, totally relaxed on the bottom of the pool. The peace I got from such deep meditative control was great.
I miss having hot pools, there are none in Kaikoura. Unfortunately Ailsa doesn’t really like water much – so now I just get to look at the ocean.

[followed by]

Thanks FOS

Mentioning swimming with dolphins set off a lot of great memories. I have swum with dolphins many times, and even with a Brydes whale, and a pod of Orca (about 7 miles from land – as much scary as exhilarating).

Being underwater with dolphins is magic. It seems that they can “see” us in 3D – our hard and soft tissue clearly “visible” to their “sonar”.

We have large pods of dolphins here in Kaikoura at times. I have been in the water with a pod of about 2,000, diving down to a depth of about 30 ft and being surrounded with about a dozen of dolphins within a few inches of me, and hundreds more within a few feet, such that it seemed to me that there was more dolphin than water near me, quite “magic”.

So yeah – great experiences.

And like Paul I’ve had more than my share of close calls (very close to death) around water, pushing limits a bit too hard in most cases. I was SCUBA diving off Great Mercury Island one day (diving alone – breaking No1 rule of always diving with a buddy – did that a lot – couldn’t always find anyone who wanted to go out when I was free – a problem of being self employed and working strange hours) and thought I was just swimming along a ledge at about 30 ft, looking at the little bryozoans and corals. After about half an hour I noticed myself having the thought “what a cute little bubble” – I instantly became alert – bubbles are not cute – I must be narced (suffering nitrogen narcosis). I grabbed my gauges and checked and I was at 190 ft – the ledge had not been level, but angled slightly down, and I had been going steadily deeper and not noticed.

I immediately headed for the surface, picked a small bubble and kept it just in front of my face on the way up.

When I got to 30 ft I stopped, and breathed as slowly and calmly as I could, until the tank pressure was down to 200psi. Then I went up to 10ft and stayed there until I sucked the tank empty.

I got back in the boat, worried I might get bent, but didn’t. What I had done had been enough on the day (well short of recommended decompression times from such a deep dive and all I could possibly do). I’m here to tell the tale, so it worked.

[followed by]


Killing plankton is one of the least of our worries right now. At current use rates the atmosphere and oceans hold over a thousand years reserve of oxygen (even if we did kill all the plants – to keep the partial pressure at sea level above that needed to keep a human fully conscious). Certainly those communities living at high altitude would find it impossible to survive there long before those of us living at sea level noticed any perceptible change.

And yes – we need to treat the ocean much better than we are, and we have some time to learn that lesson.

We have much less time to learn the lesson about treating all other humans well (without exception) – the idea of nations doesn’t help a lot with that lesson.

[followed by]


To lock carbon away as limestone (CaCO3) takes a lot of oxygen (where most of that oxygen from the ancient atmosphere went).

We are releasing carbon from fossil fuels, but that is basically some multiple of CH2, and so takes a lot of oxygen to convert it to CaCO3 and H2O. There is a lot of oxygen – about 400lb per square ft, and it is finite.
So we do have to start considering basic chemistry on a global scale – and we have a lot of options. We just need to choose some set of options that actually works.

[followed by]

Limestone is where a lot of the old oxygen ends up. It is little planktonic plants that create it (their fossilised skeletons). So in a sense the limestone is formed by living things, at least what survives of them after they die. (Most of the very early oxygen ended up as rust – in the banded iron formations. Most of that oxygen came from CO2 {some from water}, as the plants took the carbon and turned it into hydrocarbons and released the oxygen.)

There is about 400lb of oxygen in the atmosphere above every square foot of ground. That adds up to a lot of oxygen. (There’s only about 2lb per square ft dissolved in the ocean – not a lot compared to what is in the air above it – of course there is a lot more chemically in the water – about 400T per square foot of ocean surface, but that takes a lot of energy to turn into gas.)

We, as a society, need to start to determine some of the fundamental parameters of our political system.
We do actually make a difference, with every conversation we have.

[followed by]


We need to set our focus on the life support systems; and the way we do that is through our actions, and the incentive structures that are the major determinants of actions for most people are for the most part the outcome of the political system.

So it is a yes to both.
Yes to getting the life support systems working sustainably, and in a manner that will see us through all foreseeable extreme events (not just the near term or probable in the next 50 year type events, but the whole spectrum).
And the mechanism for doing that involves changes in the political and social structures within which we exist – so we need to work on those both as themselves and as a means to an end.

Everywhere I look I see systems – cause and effect – and choice is right in there – along with the other leading causes (like physics, chemistry, biology, habit, culture). And at a sufficiently high level, choice can bring change to any of those – create new patterns that have not previously existed, but exist as possibility within infinities framed in probability functions.
Amazing thing, these things called being, awareness, possibility – infinitely extensible and recursively applicable.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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