“Water, Water, Everywhere… ”
"But not a drop to drink.” That famous line from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner will become the tragedy of our planet soon if we
don’t start now to conserve water and develop desalination technology. In the US, the depletion of the Colorado river is a perfect example of what the rest of the world will face if more countries
become prosperous and peaceful, a goal of civilization, I presume.)
Industry needs water. Agriculture needs water. Livestock need water. People need water (both to drink and to flush wastes away). As each of these areas grow, so does water consumption. In my view, water distribution is more important than electrical power distribution. So what can we do about it? Try these (not unique) ideas:
• Build more reservoirs and flood catch basins. Then pipe the water to needful places using existing oil pipes (or carve some canals). Not enough capacity? Build more pipe lines (concrete lines will be cheaper to build anyway).We already know where the problem flood areas are on the Mississippi and other rivers. Start there.
• One third to one half of all reservoir water is lost to evaporation. So be proactive and install evaporation barriers. I like Bird Balls (90% reduction in evaporation!), but monolayers also are doable. This is especially important in areas that only have seasonal rainfall.
• Industry and agriculture often do not need potable water, so a dual supply system may be cheaper in rural areas or in highly industrialized areas.
• I heard (but cannot confirm) that if you bubble ozone through a fountain of water, you get disinfected water. If this is true, the third world desperately needs this technology… now! Are you hearing me, Dr. Hood?
• Inexpensive desalination is of comparable value to room temperature fusion, but much more likely to be achieved if we put a little intentional R&D into the federal budget. I would rather see the patent rights go to the government (or the UN) than to a private corporation, wouldn’t you?
• I think that we should return to personal cisterns and rainwater storage, and combine that with consumer level water purification systems. Don’t drain that water away. Save it! For your grass, for your garden, for washing your car, for flushing down your toilet. Purify it, and you can drink it. Rainwater is not that hard to purify. Take a good long look at your downspouts the next time it rains and ask yourself, “Wow, how many gallons is that?”
• Proper irrigation makes the deserts bloom, but even this won’t feed the planet if we double again in population. The oceans are our best hope. How can we farm the oceans without screwing up the environment? Can we farm at different depths? Can we dredge the bottom for nutrients or fertilizer? Are there any fish that are as good as chickens (1 kg of meat for every 2 kg of grain) for meat production?
• Speaking of population control, there are right now 2 tracks that are being taken: enforced birth control (China), or, affluence and education (the US and Western Europe). I say that if you start with education, the affluence will follow. So, let’s start a peaceful revolution and educate the world! Teachers of the world unite! Actually, governments unite, and work towards free universal education for all people.
(Hint: Computers and the internet will be the key.)