Earth Foundation

Stewards of the Land, Sea and Native Cultures

Ed Laws’ letter to Earth Foundation

Dr. Ed Laws, Ph. D.
Former Chairman
Department of Oceanography

University of Hawaii

In April 2003 the President of the University of Hawaii referred Earth Foundation’s Mr. Ryder to Dr. Ed Laws then serving as Chairman of the UH Department of Oceanography. It was a great pleasure for EF’s Mr. Ryder to meet and form a relationship with the great gentleman Dr. Laws over a 1 ½ year period. During that time, UH Oceanography Chairman Dr. Laws spent considerable time sharing substantial information with EF about Hawaii’s and the world’s oceans, other scientific information, public health, and the scientific method of research.

Interestingly, UH Oceanography during Chairman Laws’ tenure and continuing today excitedly works extensively with Native Hawaiians to help preserve Hawaii’s ocean and inland waters. Dr. Laws had substantial involvement in this. And, he significantly respected Earth Foundation’s work with Native Hawaiians.

On the next page is a very interesting letter that Ed Laws, while serving as UH Oceanography Chairman, wrote Earth Foundation on April 7, 2004. This letter was the beginning of an alliance with EF and UH Oceanography to help projects that the two organizations could work on together.

Starting in February and March of 2004 Ed Laws referred and introduced EF’s Mr. C.T. Ryder to world class experts who are key professors and researchers at UH associated with UH Oceanography. Through Dr. Laws’ referrals, EF was able to begin forming relationships with UH Oceanography expert researchers specializing in:

  • Coral Reefs
  • Space Station: Designing, building, and operating original, highly innovative hardware & software systems on the Space Station that view and measure the level of health of every coral reef on Earth
  • Rainforests
  • Global Environmental Sustainability
  • Global Environmental Models
  • Dolphin Communications
  • Agriculture & Energy Sustainability for the Hawaiian Islands
  • Climate for the Pacific
  • Global Climate Change including Global Warming and Ozone Layer depletion

In January 2005 after many years serving the University of Hawaii and three distinguished periods in which he served as Chairman of UH Oceanography, Dr. Laws moved to the esteemed Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to serve as Dean of LSU’s School of the Coast and Environment.

Dr. Laws is an amazingly fine gentleman of compassion and community service, and he is missed.

Now EF and its President Mr. Ryder are in the process of getting to know the new Chairman of UH Oceanography. He is the distinguished Dr. Lorenz Magaard who in his long UH career is now serving a third time as Chairman of UH Oceanography. Dr. Magaard is guiding UH Oceanography to enter exciting new realms, projects, and relationships in the Pacific and Asia.

University of Hawaii
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
Department of Oceanography
Honolulu, HI 96822
April 7, 2004

Mr. Corey T. Ryder
President, Earth Foundation
P.O. Box 1239
Kula, Hawaii 96790

Dear Corey:

It is no exaggeration to say that the 21st century will be a critical time for the human race. Some of the news has been very good. Through an aggressive program of immunization, the World Health Organization is very close to eliminating polio from the Earth. The last confirmed case of polio in the Americas from the wild virus occurred in 1991, and in 2001 there were fewer then 500 cases worldwide. The target date for complete eradication is 2005. World production of mercury, a highly toxic metal, declined by about 70% during the last 30 years, largely as a result of public awareness of the problem and deliberate steps taken to reduce or eliminate human use of mercury. At the present time virtually all use of mercury is the United States is accounted for by recycling. Sequencing of the human genome was completed in the first half of 2003, several years ahead of schedule. The implications of this accomplishment for public health are enormous, although the pathway from genomic information to improved public health is by no means short.

These have been some of the success stories. There are some serious problems. The size of the human population, now numbering about 6.4 billion, is projected to level out at about 11 billion toward the end of the century. Steady state will eventually occur when birth rates and death rates are equal. How will this steady state be achieved? Ideally the steady state will be characterized by low birth and death rates. A much less desirable state could be characterized by high birth and death rates, with the high death rates a consequence of one or a combination of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding over the Earth. It is easy to imagine how the latter scenario might come to pass. Fossil fuel burning and deforestation continue to drive up the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. By the year 2100 it is likely that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be roughly double present values. The associated increase in global temperatures is likely to be about 2ºC and the rise in sea level about 50 cm. Even if atmospheric CO2 concentrations are stabilized by 2100, the thermal inertia of the oceans will cause sea level to continue to rise for many centuries, with potentially devastating impacts in coastal populations. Changes in climatic regimes caused by global warming are likely to be associated with significant changes in precipitation patterns, with major implications for world food production. CO2 emissions from motor vehicles ay very well decline during the latter half of the 21st century as oil reserves become seriously depleted. This seemingly good news is counterbalanced by the fact that oil provides about 40% of the energy in industrial countries, and the production, price, and availability of food are strongly dependent on oil. The nuclear power industry in the United States has been declining for several decades, but this picture may change dramatically as pressure mounts to reduce CO2 emissions from coal-burning power plants. In the short term at least, the most likely alternative to these plants will be nuclear power. Since 9/11 the federal government has been aggressively moving ahead with plans to open a repository for high-level radioactive wastes at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Disposal of these wastes is the last step in the uranium fuel cycle, and failure to identify an acceptable repository has been a major obstacle to reviving the nuclear power industry in this country.

Clearly the young people of this generation will be faced with some major scientific and political challenges. Their ability to respond to those challenges will depend very much on their understanding of scientific issues and their ability to think critically. The projects outlined in the Earth Foundation’s concept paper that you shared with me could be one mechanism for enlightening people of all ages, but especially young people, about the critical issues facing planet Earth and the sometimes difficult decisions that must be made to resolve those issues. I would look forward to working with you to provide scientific input to these projects, and I believe many other faculty within the department would be pleased to provide similar input. There is no doubt that the University of Hawaii Oceanography Department is one of the best collections of oceanographers and Earth scientists anywhere, and I believe the collective input of our faculty could be very helpful in defining problems, suggesting solutions, and ensuring scientific rigor in these projects. I look forward to working with you.


Edward Laws
Professor and chairperson