18 May 2010

Trans Atlantic Pipeline

Abstract of this paper:
This paper offers a technical and geopolitical reappraisal of a macroengineering proposal to plumb Earth’s freshwater, siphoning some of it from a region of surplus (Amazon River Basin) to a region of shortage (arid northern Africa) via ...(a) Transatlantic Freshwater Aqueduct. Two different routes for the pipeline, of length 4,317 and 3,745 km, respectively, have been considered. Pipe diameters larger than 60 m are necessary for “reasonable” low pumping power (i.e., less than 20 GW). ... To keep the number of pumping stations reasonably small (i.e. fewer than 20) a single pipe of diameter higher than 30 m (or bundles of smaller diameter pipes) is required. The Atlantic Ocean currents may be used to provide the necessary power for pumps. ... A rough cost estimate of the project is about 20,600 GUSD and 18,400 GUSD, respectively, for two pipeline routes.
Their cost estimates are based on the now-defunct Alaska-California proposal. I do not know what a GUSD is but I suspect it's a lot of money.

Bottom Line: Build it soon while it's still cheap.


  1. Not sure if this is an April Fools paper, but it sure points out a lack of reality for this journal...

    I think that GUSD is giga-dollars, aka, $ billions. So that's $20.6 trillion? Bloody engineers and their metric dollars...

  2. Great to see some vision ......our world has great shortages of potable water where we need it.

    Before the Atlantic is piped for a cool $20 Trillion, lets run a trial pipe from New Zealand's Westcoast to South Australia.The cost will only be about $3 Billion.Already the Noth Sea has gas pipe lines - however gas has a higher value than water.

  3. one of the authors emailed: "1 GUSD = 10^9 USD." In human tongue that means $1 billion. So, yes, it's $20 trillion or so...

  4. did the authors impart any more wisdom that is not evident to us as economists on the merits of this project?
    20 trillion? I mean are we talking about spending the equivalent of our entire GDP for two years just so we can irrigate a few hundred thousand acres of Sahara desert?

    I can only assume this was a fantasy paper interested in non-economic feasibility

  5. @Damian -- that was the whole reply. They sent an additional paper that's barely more realistic (speed blogging in 2 wks...). Typical engineering, back of envelope, fantasy. You called that, of course :)


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