Friday, November 19, 2010

Stupid Ideas to Save the World: Water

There’s a lot of concern about what will happen in the potentially near future with regards to how much water we have; both that there will be too much and that there will be too little. I have a few thoughts to help redirect some of that disaster. Read on and I’ll explain…

water Before we begin, I should clarify the individual problems which I intend to solve with the forthcoming solution. The first problem we have to discuss is having too much water. The extreme excess of liquid water comes in the form of expected rising sea levels from the melting of the polar icecaps caused by the ever-increasing average temperature of the Earth, otherwise known as “global warming.” (If you haven’t heard of this yet, then you’re probably dead; sorry to inform you.) There is of course still some dispute about whether or not we humans are actually causing – or at least worsening – this crisis, but let’s just assume that it’s all our fault and we are destroying the world as we speak. With increasing ocean water levels, certain localities will be inundated with water, destroying cities and towns, and in some instances who ecosystems (take the Florida Everglades, for example). I’ll quote a puppet-filled movie to help explain…

From what I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.N.C.E has gathered, it would be 9/11 times 100.
9/11 times a hundred? Jesus, that's...
Yes, 91,100.
Basically, all the worst parts of the bible.

manhattan_global_warmingjpgThe next problem is that we won’t have enough water, because we use so much fresh water without replenishing, that our drinkable supply will disappear. Following will be series of wars fought over water as opposed to oil and vast amounts of the human population will cease to be. Or something like that, anyway. With no immediate signs of this problem (people in America still use that ever so precious drinkable water to wash their cars and water their golf courses every day), you might think that this end is far from near. However, to quote another, entirely different, horror movie (citing graffiti, rather)…


Are you worried yet? So now on to the proposed solution, which I admit is not without some holes (note ‘Stupid’ in the post title). The short, simple answer is to pump ocean water out to where it won’t do us any harm. There’s a lot of pumping involved, and quite a bit of construction, effort, and (most importantly) money will have to go into turning something like this from a pipe dream into a pipe reality. But there’s another question to answer before we just start pumping away: Where can we pump ocean water where it won’t so us any harm?

One such possible location for this transplantation of the deadly rising water is the icecaps themselves. Most of the lost mass comes from the fringes, but pumping that back to the center of the ice sheets would delay the overall loss. The water (if kept sufficiently cool so as not to in fact increase the melt from the center) would refreeze once left to flow at the coldest parts of the poles. That seems simple enough, right? We keep the ice up and afloat, and we don’t have to worry about losing prime tanning spots on the beach.

Unfortunately, the solution must be a bit more involved than that. Refreezing the caps would not increase our usable supply of water, but it would help keep the oceans from rising much more. To increase the usable water as well though, why not pump the ocean water into the middle of one or more of CAESARS_PALACE_FOUNTAINthe large continental land masses? Obviously, seawater is not usable for a lot of things (and actually can be harmful to ecological systems not suited to the higher salinity variety of dihydrogen monoxide), but surely we can think of a few reasonable uses. Why not use ocean salt water to cool nuclear reactors? Or why not supply fountains and other decorative hydro-chic uses with the briny stuff? Las Vegas, comes to mind for this specific fountain case. (Anyone seen the show outside Caesar’s Palace?) 

Las Vegas is in Nevada; do you know what else is in Nevada? Lots of open, dead, empty desert. And of course, this isn’t the only place in the world these deserts can be found. In fact, you can find one in almost every continent across the globe. If we were to pump ocean water to a place that is already devoid of much - if any - life, the ecological impact would be negligible.  There, the water can do either one of two things. It can seep into the ground, eventually making its way into Sahara_desertgroundwater supplies, with much of the salt stripped in the process, or it can evaporate to be dispersed around to other far reaching places as drinkable rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is virtually non-existent, yet it is a very eco-friendly thing to do. In either of the possible outcomes, we have helped decrease the strain on the planet’s supply of fresh water.

As an extra side note, deserts aren’t the only places we can throw a bunch of salt water; there are also dry/dead/salt lakes all over that would be good holding spots. The Aral Sea, the Great Salt Lake, and the Dead Sea, just to list a few…

Of course, there would be little cash return on an investment of this magnitude, and big corporations (and subsequently stockholders of such companies) are not currently interested in the bigger return of, say, the survival of the human race? As long as there’s money to be made passing the problem on to someone else, you’d better believe the problem’s not getting solved any time soon. Eh, why should I worry anyway, it’s only something my grandkids might have to worry about, right?


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