MOTHER's Newsworthies: Harold Wilcox, Dr. Melvin Calvin and Gil Friend

Learn how Harold Wilcox works to grow ocean farms; Dr. Melvin Calvin uses milkweed as an alternative energy source; and Gil Friend educates people about the environment.

| March/April 1977

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    Harold Wilcox, an environmental scientist,  has a fascination with seaweed and is working to produce ocean farms. Wilcox believes that seaweed ocean farms could help world food shortages.
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    Dr. Melvin Calvin has discovered that gopher weed and milkweed can be used as alternative fuel sources.
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    Among many other accomplishments, Gil Friend presented a paper on the effect of air pollution on urban garden vegetables at the February 1976 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Brief: Harold Wilcox

Unlike the Japanese — who consume more than 100 million pounds of the substance each year — Americans currently eat little (if any) seaweed. That situation may change within the next decade, however, if a man by the name of Harold Wilcox has his way.

Wilcox — an environmental scientist who has taught at Berkeley and Harvard — is presently the head of the Ocean Food and Energy Farm Project at the Naval Under-sea Center in San Diego, California, where he works on the development of various types of anchored and free-floating ocean farms. His goal: to have a 1,000-acre seaweed farm in operation by 1985 ... and a 100,000-acre "spread" five years after that.

Wilcox believes not only that seaweed can help solve our present world food shortages, but that large-scale farming of the ocean may actually reduce the ocean's temperature and thus counteract the dangerous tendency of industrialization to raise the earth's temperature (and melt the polar icecaps) ... a phenomenon Harold Wilcox discusses at length in his book Hot-House Earth (Praeger, 1975). In addition, the large-scale cultivation and processing of kelp could — the scientist reasons — yield an abundance of useful algal by-products, such as waxes, lubricants, plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and (possibly) fuels.

Dr. Wilcox is particularly excited about the properties and potential of the giant brown kelp species (with which he now works exclusively). "What other vegetable can you think of," he asks, "that grows up to two feet per day, attains a final length of two hundred feet, and never needs 'watering'?"— Peter Blazi.  

Brief: Dr. Melvin Calvin

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, gopher weed and milkweed may be major U.S. crops. Only these plants won't be grown for food ... they'll be cultivated for use as fuel.  


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