THE WATERSHED PROJECT
From THE PREPAREDNESS PROJECT GROUP March 2019
I’ve been asked many times to explain what it is we are trying to achieve with this organization. “What are you going to do?” has been the question. The fact is, since this is a project being built for the next generation, I don’t actually know for sure what they will do with it. I do know, however, that they will need this lobbying power through the difficult times from about 2030 onward.
To satisfy those trying to understand the Preparedness Project, I can tell a story of what we could do now if we had the numbers necessary to do some effective lobbying.
To start, I will refer to the map attached, which shows substantial drought areas that will develop if we stay on the course of climate change we are on. The map was created by U.N. sponsored scientists in a yearly report they create. (See video.Below or linked here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8PWkZ7FB5s) Within their information are worst-case scenario predictions.
How likely are these predictions to materialize?
The U.N. scientists that authored the attached map put it this way: first, they said, “we must change from a fossil fuel consuming culture, and that will stop climate change in its tracks.” Then they said, “there is no sign that we are about to change in time to prevent the consequences depicted on the map.” (The widespread droughts.)
Taking a lead from the U.N. scientists mentioned above, here is a probable outcome. There will be tremendous effort put forward by all the front-line climate activists to keep the climatic status quo, which is to keep warming trends from going up. However, as has been seen so far, deniers and vested interests rooted in the economy will slow the reform progress.
So, with all the effort we can apply, the global temperature is most likely to rise from its present level before the efforts to bring it down are effective. I want to insert here that the effect of eventually bringing CO2 levels down is going to take a herculean effort—one that I believe will materialize, but not by the current example of complacency by individuals, governments, and industry. The attached map displays a worst-case scenario, and if nothing changes substantially, we will have to deal with that reality. Summed up, the near worst-case scenario is, if not inevitable, then highly likely.
Considering a worst-case scenario, let’s focus on the situation of North America as pictured in the map. From the map, you can see that the main agriculture areas of the U.S. are potentially wiped out, and about one quarter or more of Canadian prairie agricultural area is threatened as well. From this information, we see the potential for a very large problem: food shortages.
With the probability of drought, and considering current attitudes and realities, it is fair to say there is a reason to plan seriously for what is predicted. With regard to preparation, we would advise that the planning stage should be initiated at this time. All research and design could be accomplished now, or soon, with the intention of shortening the time of implementation when the need arises. It may be possible to shave 2 to 3 years off the implementation of this proposed project if the groundwork is done now.
Here are some general areas that should be investigated:
1. How many desalinating plants on the east and west coasts of North America would it take to contribute to an overall water plan for the irrigation of the central part of the continent?
2. To what degree has technology progressed to provide solar and renewable power to run the desalinating plants? If solar and wind power can be used for desalination operations, the carbon footprint will be kept to a minimum. What power needs are required?
3. A major hurdle to desalination is its waste product, salt. Research, in this case, could extend to solving the waste product problem thus: why continue to mine salt when it would be produced as a by-product of vast desalination factories?
4. Remember, this is research, not real-world activity—but it would not hurt to know if salt mines could be shut down. Can the workforce in those mines be relocated to salt production from the desalination operations? Furthermore, how much salt can be digested by our personal and industrial use of the product?
5. Research could start now on how to move this manufactured fresh water on each coast to the center of the continent. This would normally be cost-prohibitive and produce a carbon footprint itself. Considering that trucks and trains would be employed to move the water—this might seem to be the stumbling block to end any serious talk about a project like this, except for one thing. The means to transport the water is already available and sits right under our noses. It is the spiders’ web of existing oil and gas pipelines.
However, we need research on what it would take to repurpose oil and gas pipelines so they could pump water instead of oil. They could move water to the center of the continent, instead of moving oil east and west. It may even be possible to accommodate both uses of the pipeline, if the water was pumped along a separate pipe piggybacked along with the existing pipeline routes.
6. Furthermore, research should be done to determine how much water can be taken safely from lakes and rivers to put toward irrigation. There is evidence right now that the aquifer beneath the vast North American agricultural areas is heading toward depletion—it is certainly unable to endure greater demand than it has now. So this research is justified for that reason alone.
7. Research should be done on utilizing recovered rainwater on a scale necessary to contribute to drought relief. Clues on rainwater retrieval could be gleaned from Bermuda: an entire country that runs solely on captured rainwater. It seems likely that catchment facilities could be built at a justifiable cost, but there is a catch. For every drop of rain you collect (and we are talking millions of gallons) you have to find a way to store it. The cost and complexity of creating storage facilities would probably knock this idea down from the start. The storage container for captured rainwater would just be too massive and costly to make practical sense. However, some good fortune once again—it turns out we have such a storage capacity right under our noses.
This possibility for storing vast quantities of water emerged simply by talking amongst group members. One member realized that we can solve two problems with one application. She pointed out that the depleted aquafers right underneath those affected lands could be recharged with the captured rainwater. The infrastructure already exists to extract and distribute water from the aquifer, so that part of storage and distribution is solved.
Transportation of the captured rainwater once again bedevils this idea. However, we will soon have to find answers to tough questions like this and shoulder costs, or face a food crisis. What is more important: water for agriculture, at whatever cost, or social chaos? The option of failing to plan is far too risky.
Costs are always thrown up as obstacles to doing projects like this and here again, is where preparedness makes its graceful entrance. In none of the above was there a hint about actually breaking ground for the massive project proposed. Instead, the entire thrust of this article was to initiate research. Why do the research? Because it could shave years off the project if it is needed. If this project is needed—and there is good evidence that it will be—if all the research is done we could hit the ground running.
Again, costs considered, where would the money come from for such a huge research project as described here? It seems a reasonable idea that when you come upon something of high priority like drought-induced food shortages, then you should reallocate financial resources from one type of research to another.
Less urgent matters, such as physics and the mysteries of dark matter, for example, may have to wait while the engineers and environmentalists carve out a plan for our survival. In this way, when the time comes there would be no extra money needed to fund this research project. In this way, a plan could be in place to offset the effects we can see are likely. In this way, panic, hunger, and strife could be mitigated—at least to some degree. To the degree, we are able to predict.