Monday, October 22, 2007
Desalination and My Grandchildren
I am sitting here at my desk this morning after having read two of the most thought-provoking and disturbing stories in a long time. The topic in both articles was water. According to one story the water level in the Great Lakes is near an all-time low causing such problems as requiring freighters to reduce the size of the cargoes so that they won't run aground. A five year $17 million dollar study to be completed in 2012 will apparently tell us whether this problem is due to nature's cyclical effect or global warming. (A combination of both I would surmise. Where do I send the bill?) The second story was about the looming catastrophe for those (nine states) who are dependent on the Colorado River for their water supply. Farmers, cities, manufacturers and others have apportioned (after much legal wrangling) the current supply among themselves to the last drop. The supply is dwindling, but the need as a result of continued population growth will increase greatly over the next twenty to thirty years. I tried a case in Salt Lake City about ten years back and the federal judge on the case told me during a break that fifty percent of all the litigation heard by federal courts in the western United States involved battles over rights to Colorado River water. That was before the subject of global warming became a topic of dinner table discussion. Common sense and my basic, but inconsiderable math skills, tell me that if the water source that is available now is all there is ever going to be, something must be done to meet the demand. The rest of this diatribe is a message for my grandchildren akin to the advice offered in The Graduate; one word career advice- "Plastics". My career advice is "Desalination". With nearly 70% of the earth's surface taken up by salt water, there has to be a way to economically remove the salt and make the water available to meet the rising demand. Without delving into the topic, I suspect that a method, or methods, have already been devised to do so. I would imagine that a combination of scientific background coupled with the ability to manage people, ideas and negotiate at the national level with an altruistic eye on the ultimate goal to be achieved would be sufficient background for one, or all, of my eight grandchildren to receive the Nobel Prize in 2034.