Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A dry-eyed look at desalination

An excellent, skeptical piece in Alternet by Scott Thill about desalination. The issues here are more complex than I realized: ... As Les Blumenthal recently reported for McClatchy Newspapers, "The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, as they absorb 22 tons of carbon dioxide a day. By the end of the century, they could be 150 percent more acidic." And unlike atmospheric temperature changes, which can be modulated by decreases in carbon emissions and other methods, ocean acidification is for humanity's intents and purposes, a relatively permanent vacation to hell. Sure, acidification can be reversed or repaired, but only after thousands if not millions of years have passed. In other words, not in your lifetime, or your great-great-great grandchildren's lifetimes either.

Which begs the deeper question: Have global desalination efforts, already compromised by technological inefficiencies and overt waste, taken into account the dramatic rise in oceanic acidity? The answer is, not really...

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