The sea, our planet’s future
In 1960, one year before Youri Gagarine opened the way to space exploration by man, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh were the first explorers to reach the bottom of the ocean on board their bathyscaphe Trieste. 9,000 metres down, the pressure cracked an 18 cm thick perspex pane on their boat. This did not discourage them from pursuing their odyssey down to nearly 11,000 metres. 52 years later, James Cameron is only the third man to reach those depths. It is fitting to pay homage to those pioneers in the field of ocean depths exploration.
The fascinating adventure of the Canadian film director down in the Mariana trench reminds us that we know little about ocean depths. The sense of proximity that we harbour towards the sea is misleading. The ocean depths are so little known that James Cameron, back from his dive at the deepest place on earth, said he had had the impression of visiting another planet. One of the greatest creators of original virtual worlds in the history of film production became aware that at those extreme depths reality goes further than the wildest of fictions. Life takes the form of surprising living organisms which are able to withstand an extremely hostile environment.
And yet, from Athens to Shanghai via Venice and New York, the sea always seems to have been a source of power. To confirm this postulate scientifically, DCNS has launched the Océanides project whose purpose is to study, on the five continents and over a period of 5 millenniums, the relationship there is between maritime power and geopolitical and economic power. More than 300 research workers from all parts of the world will make their contribution to a project which has had no equivalent since the encyclopaedia venture which dates back to the eighteenth century.
Today, a number of the answers that our planet will have to provide to meet the human, economic and environmental stakes of the next few decades are hoarded in the world’s oceans:
- The oceans play a major part in climatic regulation and represent 97% of the earth’s water, two major parameters to meet the environmental challenges in the offing.
- The marine ecosystems are rich in raw materials, minerals and biodiversity, a potential – still largely unexplored – which could help us cope with the depletion of land resources.
- The sea feeds several billion people and plays a leading role in all international exchanges (freight, telecommunications…), two critical factors for the economic development of an ever increasing world population.
- The oceans are an inexhaustible source of renewable energy (generated by sea winds, waves, marine currents, tides or the temperature differential between sea bottom and surface waters, seafloor hydrothermal springs), a major asset to meet the exponential need for clean energy.
- Lastly the sea is, for many of us, one of the last remaining areas for freedom and dreams.
That is why, at DCNS, we strongly believe that the twenty first century will be sea centred. Naturally, this belief of ours is firmly based on our shipbuilding experience in the defence sector which started in 1631. Today, we dedicate ourselves to the sea in all its dimensions by inventing high-tech solutions to sustainably secure and develop its potential. The era of the sea has come. That era will also be ours.
We want this ambition to give direction to all activities conducted by DCNS’ stakeholders. Indeed, our business growth is the driving force behind the economic development of an industrial sector which encompasses large and medium sized companies as well as hundreds of small ones.
More generally, we wish to share our outlook on the major role to be played by the sea in the future of mankind with all those who are interested in the marine universe. That is why we recently launched the social network of the sea, BlooPlanet (www.blooplanet.com). This is an information and exchange medium that we make available to professionals and the general public alike.
Maurice Blondel once told us “Don’t make predictions about the future, make preparations instead”. The blue planet is today faced with unprecedented challenges. I am convinced that that the most promising solutions will come from the sea.
Chairman & CEO of DCNS