A tap on the sea can save the world

Published on:

article issued by Ignace Schops, EUROPARC President

This may have escaped your attention.

Last week it was decided to build the largest renewable energy-run desalination plant designed for drinking water and irrigation. The new installation will be located in Agadir, Morocco. The conversion of seawater into worldwide drinking water by desalination – and put a tap on the seas – is probably the best climate adaptation measure ever. The idea of installing a tap on the seas is a multi-win solution: it tackles climate change, climate migration, … it brings back healthy ecosystems and peace!

The Paris Climate Agreement was the beginning of change. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) underline the importance of saving our million stars hotel we call home. So, let’s save our planet and put a tap on our seas! A tap on the sea can be the SDG 18!

Climate Change: the biggest challenge of the human race

Recently, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke away from Antarctica. A chunk of floating ice that weighs more than a trillion metric tons, produce one of the largest icebergs ever recorded and provide a glimpse of how the Antarctic ice sheet might ultimately start to fall apart. Scientists predict that without immediate action, the sea level will rise up to 10 meters by the end of the century.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN states that “every second” since 2008 one person is leaving his home because of climate or nature disasters. Until now, over 140 million people were forced to move because of climate and weather related disasters in the last six years, displaced by droughts, harvest failures, and devastating storms. The UN believes that 300 million climate refugees could be displaced from their homes by the middle of this century.

And even with the Climate Agreement of Paris, the current pledges lead to a global warming pathway of 4°C by the end of this century. An increasing amount of scientists and scientifical institutes believe we lost the 2°C threshold.

 I could go on for hours … But there is no need to. The evidence of climate change clear. It is staring us in the face and without immediate concrete action, we are doomed to fail. Yes, there is a real threat that self-strengthening processes will occur that cannot be stopped and we will evolve in an unlivable planet.

That’s why Climate Change is existential and the biggest challenge of human race ever!


A tap on the sea: an immediate multi-win-solution

 Among many, Climate change causes two major problems that alarm the world and its civilizations: sea-level rise and drought. Complete cities will disappear due to the rising oceans. Unique places like the Solomon Islands in the Pacific and cities like Bangladesh and Miami will drown and vanish.

On top, drought and desertification lead to a complete system collapse. With the lacking water, we lose the crucial element for life. Failing agricultural systems push people to the brink of survival. Ecosystems degrade and societies are under severe threat.

 Due to global warming, millions of people suffer from an increasing pressure and the survival for life becomes more and more obvious. The result: war, climate refugees, biodiversity loss. In the end, nobody is excluded from a collapsing system. The rhythm and the appearance that gave stability to our planet is changing rapidly.


We are losing our comfort zone

Are we capable to find multi-win-solutions that tackle climate change and can avoid mass migration? War? Collapsing economic systems? …? Yes, we can! It is time for big ambitious solutions. 

A tap on the sea is such an idea. And it works!

So let’s bring the threatening and fast rising water of the oceans to the fast drying regions. We have done it many times before. We brought oil, gas, electricity, water to the most remote places on earth. We build roads, houses, … we even were able to put a man on the moon! So why can’t we distribute the desalinated water of the oceans in the same way?

The water will not only restore the drying ecosystems, it solves many other interconnected problems. Biodiversity loss can be stopped. Agriculture will be restored. And due to the regained food and water, mass migration can be stopped. Disrupted societies will have a renewed perspective for the future.

To solve the problem of mass climate migration – climate refugees –  the world leaders are seeking for rapid interventions and sustainable solutions in the regions of origin. Due to the tap on the sea, it is possible to invest in sustainable agricultural systems where people have food and water available.

We need to act urgently and find multi solutions – mitigation and adaptation – of the dangerous consequences of Climate Change. Converting seawater into freshwater is possible and proved many times due to reverse osmoses and other systems, of which some are in development.

The Agadir project shows again that it is possible to “fuel” the desalination process with renewable energy systems, which is an enormous advantage of course.