In this monograph, he noted that one of California's big problems - echoed in many countries around the world - is the availability of water for agricultural irrigation. Water from the Colorado River is coveted by all and is a constant source of political turmoil. But what if we built nuclear desalination plants, he asks, strategically located along the coast? They could be pollution free - with guppy rights properly observed.
One might wonder how this could dovetail into Dr. Cohen's extraction of uranium from the sea - surely there is a synergistic connection here as part of the desalination process could well be the initial step in obtaining the metal. How much more habitable - for people like you and me - would the Earth become if our deserts could be irrigated... at no cost except the premature use of the nuclear energy in uranium and thorium. They are going to lose their energy over time anyway - we're just appropriating it for our short-term use. Besides, a quarter of the uranium and two-thirds of the thorium would still have its energy when the sun flakes out on us in eight or ten billion years.
Editor Taylor also touches on another touchy subject: toxic wastes. Noting that most of us remember "disintegrators" from our sci-fi days, he observes that it takes only sufficient energy - which can be provided readily by clean nuclear sources - to reduce the most horrible kinds of toxic waste into its constituent atoms, which would totally lose their identity and could be recombined as the purest substances possible.
Let your mind roam free for a moment. What scourge of mankind might not be alleviated by sufficient energy availability?
- Floods and hurricanes? Better materials requiring more energy, high dikes - both a function of available energy.
- Starvation? Hydroponics from desalinated water.
- Locusts? Airplanes, chemicals, huge nuclear flyswatters (just kidding).
If man is to advance to another higher plateau - past the industrial and information revolutions - it can be done only in conjunction with an unencumbered access to energy. Otherwise, we are dooming generations to untold misery and suffering.