THE SOLAR STEAM PROJECT: ENERGY AND IRRIGATION FROM THE SEA

arid earth

How about using simple technology to bring life-sustaining water, created from sea water, to arid regions? Water that has the same mineral content as rain.  How about this water being the byproduct of generating electricity using the energy of the sun?   All of this on a massive scale to help save the planet. Turning arid land  into new forest and vegetation that would gobble up carbon dioxide.   Imagine the picture above (Australian Arid Earth) with water available all year.  And not just in Australia but all over the world where there is arid land.

Why couldn’t we pump millions of gallons of sea water to areas that are in danger of becoming desert and use thousands of  small convex lenses (or small Fresnel lenses) focused by thousands of small computers to concentrate sunlight  onto thousands of small containers of sea water to produce steam?  We know that a small fire can be started with a hand-held magnifying glass and a few dry leaves. So why not use this simple technology of small scale on a large scale project? Very large. Semi-nano to ultra heroic.  Why couldn’t the steam produced by these thousands of lenses be used to power thousands of small turbines which would produce electricity for The Grid? Why couldn’t the steam be captured, after it has powered the turbines, and condensed into water? Distilled water, to be sure, but why couldn’t minerals be added to the distilled water to create water that would be beneficial to animal and plant life?  Simplification of technology for amplification of sustainable habitat.  Wouldn’t Thoreau be pleased?

Why couldn’t the millions of gallons of water produced be used to create new forests and vegetation which we so badly need to combat the polluting emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels?   To say nothing, or everything, about providing jobs and economic viability to areas that  now produce neither and are in danger of being transformed from arid land into true desert.     

Why couldn’t agriculture be introduced to provide for the communities of workers that would surely be needed to install and maintain these thousands of solar and steam powered apparatus?

With global temperature and sea level both rising, why hasn’t this been done on the scale needed to  slow down these enemies of the planet?  

There must be something holding the effort back.  Surely we already have pumps of the size that would be needed to pump the water from the oceans.  Surely we already have pipes large enough to move the water to the areas where the water and electricity would be produced. Surely the number of lenses needed could be worked out.  Surely the optimum size and shape of the containers could be worked out.  Surely the number of containers it would take to make the project worthwhile could be worked out.  Surely we have a metal or other super conductive material that could be used to make the containers.     

So what could be the reason that is holding back the effort?

Too expensive?  What does that mean?  Does it mean that it is more expensive than you would want it to be?  Or does it mean that the expense is greater than the worth of the planet being saved? Hard to imagine a project that would be deemed more expensive that the value of the planet. 

This is a fairly simple project, just massive in its implementation and management. The components of the operation could  be created relatively quickly;  think of the production lines that created the materiel for fighting the Second World War.  What is needed is the will to save the planet.   

Think of the mitigating effects on sea levels of so much sea water being pumped out of the oceans on a scale large enough to provide continuous water for the millions of containers. Think of the land that will be saved from being inundated by the rising oceans.   Think of the Marshall Islands and  Manhattan.  Think of Bangladesh and  Barbados.  Think of the Netherlands and New Orleans.  Think of  Lagos and ocean littoral everywhere  in the world and the effects sea-level rise will have on all if we do nothing.

This suggestion, if adopted, would not relieve the world’s citizens of the obligation to reduce emissions from fossil fuels.  It is a suggestion for averting worldwide catastrophe while continuing the worldwide effort to reduce emissions from, and dependency on, fossil fuels.  It is not a plan to allow fossil fuels to continue to be burned at the current profligate and planet-destroying rate..

             

 

 

  

 

 

EDEN PROJECT WITH A DIFFERENT RIVER

Is all this, a pipeline across the Atlantic to carry water from the Amazon River to a man-made riverbed across the African Sahel (Installments 1 and 2), a little too ambitious for you?

Then how about this:  Transporting river water from the mouth of the Mississippi overland to the American South West, an American Sahel of sorts.

How about creating several interconnected, man-made lakes throughout the South West  that could be used for an ever-flowing source of irrigation?  The usual drawbacks would not obtain.  No dams to be built that would affect the flow of the Mississippi.  By taking water only from just above the salinity line, the river’s use would not be compromised.

Imagine those man-made lakes as oases providing water for reforestation, agriculture, human consumption.

Imagine water from the mouths of rivers all over the world feeding man-made lakes in areas where vegetation could be sustained with the addition of that flowing-lake water.  Think of the carbon dioxide that would be consumed by the trees and vegetation planted along their banks and in the fields nearby.

Think of the millions of gallons of water that would not be adding to the sea-level rise that is going on due to the melting of the Arctic and the Antarctic glaciers.  And wouldn’t the problem of the ocean salinity changing due to inflowing fresh water from Arctic and Antarctic glacier melting be mitigated, and a balance neared, due to the lessening of the river flow into the oceans?

Surely the transport of water by pipeline, whether under water, underground (as in the Great Man Made River Project in Libya which has the negative of drawing from an aquifer that has no recharge)  or over land, could be worked out.  If oil pipelines can be laid to transport the fossil fuels responsible for the global warming, surely water pipelines can be laid to save us from the effects of the former.  Imagine a chain of lakes on the order of Lake Amistad, the man-made lake in the picture at bottom left, but which would not require the damming of any river.

Not convinced of the connection between human actions and global warming even though the scientific evidence is over whelming?  Well, the seas are rising.  Desertification is happening at an alarming rate.  How about taking action to save the planet even if you don’t believe that humans are the culprits?  What is the best result?  If global warming is happening and the planet will suffer, regardless of the causes, what can be wrong with saving the planet and thereby saving selves?   Rather like an environmental Pascalian wager.  Of sorts.

Top photo by Mark Dimmitt.  Bottom photo by Billy Hathorn.

 

 

Slow-moving Rivers

THE EDEN PROJECT CONTINUED:

Apropos of the Eden Project suggested in Installment 1 (Creation of a man-made riverbed across the Sahel of North Central Africa which would be fed by water from the Amazon River through deep-water pipelines across the Atlantic.): Imagine the number of jobs associated  with  such a huge project.  Think of the jobs that would be created in manufacturing, installing, and maintaining the deep water pipes which would be necessary for the twenty-seven-hundred mile pipe line across the Atlantic Ocean.  Think of the number of jobs that would be created to:  dredge the river bed; line the riverbed where necessary; house the workers;  provision the workers.  Think of the armies of workers, many of whom would stay on after the completion of the river to become citizens and found communities.  Think of the villages that would arise and attract services and the workers needed to provide the services.

Yes, the river project would probably take on some of the aspects of any boom economy.   But, for starters, the project would not have the more egregious negatives associated with boom economies engaged in the extraction of minerals.  No arsenic as is used in mining gold; no chemicals as used in “fracking” for oil in shale; no strip mining for coal.

Think of the new river as a permanent, flowing oasis.  As long as the Amazon keeps flowing, the new river would keep flowing, being the conduit for sustenance across a vast arid plane; providing environmental benefits for the African continent and for the entire global community; fighting desertification; combating global warming.

This huge project could be the start of renewal and growth for the entire world.   It could be a chance for peaceful international commitment to sustained growth and economic security for millions of the earth’s citizens.  Plus.  Think of the lessening of sea level rise by diverting water that would have gone into the Atlantic Ocean.

Imagine the water from one 6’ diameter pipe floated at half capacity, approximately 19,800 gallons per minute.  Imagine six tubes bound together in twos.  Approximately 118,800 gpm.    Imagine six bundles of six tubes.  Since the Amazon is as wide as it is (1 mile – 6.2 miles), and since the Amazon is as deep as it is (66 feet – 160 feet) ,  we could add many bundled tubes and provide for a man-made river the size of  the Pascagoula River in Mississippi, with a flow of 1000 cubic feet per second.  Or larger.

Worried that we might damage the integrity of the Amazon by siphoning off that much water?  The average flow of the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean is   4,200,000 cubic feet per second, an estimated seven times the discharge of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.