Planet Earth Oceans Waters Deserts and More

About the planet Earth, oceans and freshwaters, problems of supplying water in desert regions.


Ninety-seven percent of earth's waters are in the oceans. Another 2% are locked in the Greenland and Antarctic icecaps and in glaciers atop mountains all around the earth. This leaves only 1% of sweet, fresh waters for human plans and uses.

Water's many manifestations furnish some of earth's greatest sights. Earth's highest tides occur in Canada's Bay of Fundy, rising up to 53'. Earth's highest waterfall is Salto Angel, 3,212', 1st discovered by an American flyer, Jimmy Angel, who was searching in Venezuela for a supposed hidden treasure trove of gold. The longest river may be the Amazon, at 4,000 mi. Or is it the mid-U.S. Missouri-Mississippi. As with the Blue and White Upper Nile, who is to say which branch is the "true" river?

Rainbows, and rare moonbows, give the 7-colored spectrum across the sky, with a pot of gold at its end. Seen over water, sometimes a sunset produces a momentary "green flash."

Storms at sea are perhaps water's most fearsome manifestation. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes are water gone mad and dangerous.

Oceans are not teeming with life; as much as 90% are barren, totally devoid of life, a sort of "wet desert." A 7th of earth's land surface is dry desert. The Sahara, the world's largest, is expanding southward at a fearful rate from a U.S.-sized 3.5 million sq. mi. The border nations of the Sahel, the region of West Africa that separates the desert from tropical land, are rapidly drying out, and the drought is spreading eastward toward Africa's big game preserves.

German architect/engineer Herman Sorget, during the 1930s, proposed blocking off the Congo River so as to re-create massive freshwater lakes that once existed in mid-Africa, which would then empty northward via "new" rivers across the Sahel and Sahara regions. Israeli pioneers have caused the Negev desert to rebloom. And modern Iran is reopening and reactivating ancient canals that once made this the "fertile green crescent" where human agriculture perhaps began.

In the past hundred years, nobody has heard mention of the Great American Desert, because it's been made to blossom. But in July, 1974, Lieut. Gov. John D. Vanderhoff of Colorado told a gathering of western U.S. governors, "All the easy things have been done. The current challenges we face in the West are terribly complex and terribly difficult."

One fantastic answer, calling for an investment of over $100 billion, would be the NAWAPA (North American Water and Power Alliance), which would bring vast waters southward from the Yukon River basin to provide western Canada, the U.S, and Mexico with sufficient waters far into the uncertain future.

In Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, young minister of petroleum and minerals, is constructing conversion plants to turn Red Sea salt water into fresh water to transform the deserts of his country into a new agricultural paradise.

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