By Karl Arnold Belser
11 November 2013

There is one game-changer technology, power from nuclear fusion, that might become practical in the next 100 years. See the article The Nuclear Fusion Arms Race Is Underway from Motherboard.

I think a small reactor that can be used by local communities would be best because it would not require gigantic expenditures and control by a central government. The lack of centralization might result in a more resilient, adaptable, and innovative world civilization.

However, if numerous, small generators are not possible, then the task might fall to a central government. Consider the way irrigation resulted from the pharaohs and Sultans of early human civilization. These dictators commanded enough human resources to build the agricultural water systems of antiquity.

The urgent need today is that of water purification.  A new, abundant source of power would make it possible to use the reverse osmosis process to purify waste water and desalinate ocean water. 

The book Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth Power and Civilization by Steven Solomon summarizes the world history of water from the origins of civilization to the current times. In short, much of the world is in dire need of potable water, and even the north American continent will have to transform itself into a much more water-conserving society if it is to continue with the standard of living it now enjoys.

Economic purification technology could not only provide the potable water for a growing US population, but it might allow the replacement of the diminishing water supply from the Ogawalla Aquifer in the great planes as well as the irrigation of the southwestern deserts of  the United States. In short, fusion power might make the United States self sufficient in both food and water.

Only Africa and South America have large amounts of unused water. They could become self sufficient with good governmental management and population control.

The countries of the East that rely on rivers whose source is in the Himalayas will undoubtedly see a diminishing of this river water supply as the glaciers thaw. China and India are currently trying to redistribute their river water from the locations where it is abundant to where there is little water.  The ecological ramifications of these untested efforts remain to be seen. But given China's bad management of pollution to date, it is doubtful if any serious consideration has been made of future consequences.

Many countries like the Middle East and Australia have only enough water for human needs and little to grow crops. Hence they import "virtual water", that is crops that can be traded for raw materials such as oil or minerals. These countries might become desperate as their virtual water buying resources are depleted.

Given these facts that I have summarized from the book on water above, one might expect great world wide conflicts over water in the future. So power from nuclear fusion could be the Black Swan breakthrough for a future  of world peace.

Last updated April 9, 2014
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