California’s Choice of the Two Ds: Desalinization or Drought

LEANING RIGHT-President Obama arrived in California and announced he had bad news. I thought he was going to say he forgot his golf clubs in Washington. The actual bad news is that California is facing a severe drought (glad he clarified that for us). Then he departed for the golf course in Rancho Mirage, California. 

A ready solution to Southern California’s drought problem is waiting to be found. First let’s take a quick look at mankind’s approach to some of history’s recent technological challenges and how they were resolved. 

One of the first that comes to mind is the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb during WWII. It began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ 130,000 of the best and the brightest. 

The first “Fat Man” tested in New Mexico with an energy equivalent of 20 kilotons of TNT. After the bombs were detonated in Japan, the Germans were forced to confront the fact that the Allies had done what they could not. 

The second feat that comes to mind is that in 1961 President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. Kennedy felt great pressure to have the United States “catch up to and overtake” the Soviet Union in the “Space Race.” The Russian Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space on 12 April 1961. 

Neil Armstrong accomplished this task on 21 July 1969. 

 Continuing with the theme of one remarkable feat after another the next that comes to mind is that in 1976 Steve Wozniak single-handedly invented the Apple computer. After he showed it to Steve Jobs they never stopped. 

Now the world enjoys an abundance of dazzling products including iPads, iPhones, Macs, and soon to be released Apples TVs. The Apple TV is said to be the “cat’s meow” which, in addition to its resolution and clarity, will integrate all other Apple products. 

Another breath taking event on the way is string theory which is so fascinating that scientists don’t even know what its use will be. It is so fascinating that the mathematics show the world really consists of 11 dimensions as opposed to the 4 we are aware of (x, y, z, and time). 

Most recently scientists say they’ve taken a key step forward toward harnessing nuclear fusion as a new way to generate power, an idea that has been pursued for decades. The new work reached some significant milestones along the path to a cleaner and cleaner source of electricity. 

Fusion is the merging of hydrogen atoms, the process that powers the sun. The supply of hydrogen for fuel is virtually unlimited, available from seawater, for example, in contrast to the uranium used in nuclear plants. 

The reference to seawater brings us to the gist of what we are now facing - Desalinization as opposed to Drought. 

We all know there is a fixed amount of water in the world. It is constantly rotated through the cycle of rain, evaporation, cloud purification, then rain again. 

Rains into the oceans of the world is of no direct benefit to man. It indirectly benefits man in that it provides a habitat for all seafood. The obvious solution is to change the cycle of some of the seawater: rain, desalinization, evaporation, cloud purification, then rain again. 

The United States Geological Survey estimates there to be 326,000,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. 

We need a desalinization program similar in scope, though not in size, to the Manhattan Project, with the vision of Kennedy, the ingenuity of Wozniak and Jobs, and the smarts of nuclear fusion to get us there in a jiffy. 

This would not only benefit California, it would benefit the world.  


(Kay Martin is an author and a CityWatch contributor. His new book, Along for the Ride, is now available. He can be reached at





Vol 12 Issue 14

Pub: Feb 18, 2014