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Mediterranean be Dammed

Article #327 • Written by Jason Bellows

In the 1920's the people of Europe feared the future as a dark, despairing place. Despite the loss of over five million Europeans in the Great War, the region was still plagued with the social maladies which had led to the conflict. The humans were maladjusted to the Industrial Age and the changes in labor which it spawned. To make matters worse, both scholars and soothsayers of the day postulated that world's fluxing economies would congeal into two economic blobs: the Americas would unify into a wealthy super-state in the west, while the east colluded to become an enormous pan-Asian power. Europe would be left economically isolated, with a limited range of climates for farming and fewer resources at hand. Nowhere was the gloom thicker than in Germany where the terms of the Treaty of Versailles led to poverty and hunger for much of the population. It was in the midst of that dark time that an architect named Herman Sörgel devised a plan to preserve Europe through this daunting new worldscape.

Sörgel spent years promoting his scheme to save Europe: the construction of vast hydroelectric dams spanning the Mediterranean. The massive turbines would furnish a surplus of power, and the re-engineered sea would turn the life-hostile Sahara desert into a fertile wetland. In an era when it seemed technology could do no wrong, a considerable segment of the population supported Sörgel's ambitious plan.

Herman Sörgel was born 2 April 1885 in Regensburg, Germany. Just after the turn of the century Sörgel began studying architecture in Munich. He submitted his doctoral thesis in 1908, but it was rejected. Five years later he turned in a fantastically similar paper. This time it was accepted, and so well received that Sörgel successfully expanded it into a book. From such events Sörgel learned a valuable lesson of persistence--it was a lesson that served him well though the rest of his life. He was working as an architect and journalist in 1914 when World War I broke out across Europe. His country engaged in hostilities, but Sörgel professed himself a pacifist, and did not participate. In the aftermath of the First War to End All Wars, Sörgel looked around at war-ravaged Germany, and worried for the future. Not just his future, nor his country’s. Sörgel worried for all of Europe. The forecasted Super-America and Pan-Asia economies prompted more fear: since the Americas spanned all the latitudes and climates, they would always be able to farm, and would eradicate hunger. With their legendary abundance of resources, the Super-America would need import nothing from Europe. The predicted Pan-Asian union presented the same problem with a distinctly oriental lilt. Europe would be helplessly sandwiched between these two behemoths--small, underfed, and under-powered.

Sörgel's solution lay in the very thing that was leaving so many unemployed and destitute: technology. The pioneering footprints into the Industrial Age were still fresh, and the world was replete with a blind, loving trust of all things advanced. Electricity was the solution to all problems, and hydroelectric power was deemed cheap, exploitable, and renewable. As an architect of ambition, Sörgel was fed up with penny-ante dammed rivers. In 1927 Sörgel first published the plan he called Panropa. The plan he presented was meglomanically grand, but somewhat vague. Two years later a more detailed, but just as egotistical, version was unveiled was called Atlantropa.

Project Atlantropa proposed building a dam near the narrowest point of the Straight of Gibraltar, resulting in an eighteen-mile-long structure from Morocco to Spain. A second dam would halt the Bosporus river to block off the Black Sea to the east. Although some of the Mediterranean's water comes from rivers, most flows in from the Atlantic Ocean. Water pushing through turbines would create power for all of Europe and Africa, and lower the level of the Mediterranean by more than 300 feet. 90,000 square miles of new land would be exposed in the area between beach front properties and the relocated beach.

The descended sea would also dry the waterway between Sicily and Italy, and a third dam from Sicily to Tunsia would serve as a bridge to allow travelers easy access to colonize Africa. Of course, before any such colonization, Africa would need to be "improved." Yet another Atlantropa dam would be built across the Congo, swelling Lake Chad from it’s current state of "occasionally wet" to an inland sea of 135,000 square miles. The Congo lowlands would flood the "unproductive" forests, subsequently washing away uncounted villages, species, and indigenous people.

Sörgel extolled the virtues of his mega-project in four books, thousands of publications, and countless lectures. The massive supply of electricity would make nations share a single power-grid, and ease strife among countries by making them interdependent for their power. It would also, hypothetically, curb the European lust for war by providing an easy way for the dense Anglo populations to move south and displace the African natives. At the time, people in the Africkas were widely considered without culture, purpose, or productivity, and few Europeans harbored second thoughts about rearranging the natives without their consent. Sörgel and his supporters suggested that the colonization would be a boon to Africa, and provide water and work to the current population.

Map of Atlantropa (click for larger view)Project Atlantropa garnered a cult following including designers who drafted plans, and financial supporters. As the media doted upon Sörgel as an engineering pop-star, he founded the Atlantropa Institute to promote the project. But for all the popularity, he was unable to get the project off the ground. In 1933 he took a proposal to the Nazis; if anyone had a penchant for construction on a grand scale, it would be them. Upon examining Sörgel's plan, the Nazis flatly refused. Aside from the fact that the Nazis main interest lay away from Africa, the pith of Atlantropa was to benefit all of Europe, and that was something in which they had no interest.

Though the Atlantropa Institute managed to survive though Europe's Second War to End All Wars, it gradually lost most if its funding, and it fell from the favor of the fickle public. Never one to give up, Sörgel passionately pushed the project for the rest of his life--a life that ended tragically on Christmas Day 1952 in a hit-and-run automobile accident. Reports indicated that Sörgel was bicycling along a road "as straight as a die" when he was struck. The car that killed him was never found.

Though the idea in itself was grand, most believe that it was utterly untenable. The construction of the Gibraltar dam would have required more concrete than the whole world's production of the time. Some critics maintained that such a change in the world's waterway would affect climate in unpredictable ways, though adherents argued that all of the changes--from redirecting the Transatlantic Flow to the alteration of the Sahara's humidity--would be for the better. Perhaps the most strongly argued point against the enormous Terra Reforming was the casual conquer of Africa and its people.

In 1960 the Atlantropa Institute was dissolved, and its legacy left to the realm of science-fiction, where it can still be seen today.

Article written by Jason Bellows, published on 25 September 2008. Jason is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Article design by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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86 Comments
Tag
Posted 25 September 2008 at 10:31 pm

Im not going to say it.... :)


techdawg667
Posted 25 September 2008 at 10:43 pm

2nd! OMG!


sourav
Posted 25 September 2008 at 10:51 pm

Third and not very proud of it


lmegabyte
Posted 25 September 2008 at 11:01 pm

"Aside from the fact that the Nazis main interest lay away from Africa, the pith of Atlantropa was to benefit all of Europe, and that was something in which they has no interest."

It should be they had no interest.

It'd be pretty cool if the Americas were more united than NAFTA...


rashoy
Posted 25 September 2008 at 11:10 pm

If you look at some of the grand constructions happening in Middle East and China, I would not say that the Atlantropa is an impossible venture. True, that the impact this will have on global climate change will be tremendous and at best imaginative with today's predictive technologies. But, the potential to supply energy to the ever growing populace of the world is tremendous. Probably, Herman Sörgel was ahead of his time, like a lot of great inventors.


jsmill
Posted 25 September 2008 at 11:56 pm

I registered just to comment on this...
and all I have to say is that this sounds like a Clive Cussler novel.


TSN
Posted 26 September 2008 at 12:11 am

For those unfamiliar with it, an article about this appeared on the site Strange Maps earlier this year, including a map of Africa, post-damming.


Lt. Dan
Posted 26 September 2008 at 12:36 am

Persistance is without a doubt valuable. I find this idea hopeful, but too bad he didn't use his brain power on something more useful. Seems like devoting your entire life to something requiring so many countries to cooperate is more like tunnel visioned.


Ordinant
Posted 26 September 2008 at 01:18 am

The word you're looking for in paragraph four is megalomaniacally. See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/megalomania

In the sixth paragraph, change it's to its.


ulzha
Posted 26 September 2008 at 02:30 am

Planes crashing into Hauptdamm, anyone?


FixitDave
Posted 26 September 2008 at 04:51 am

Another great article from the DI team


Sashadear
Posted 26 September 2008 at 05:31 am

Wow, if he got his way back in the day - I might have been born somewhere else on the African continent, Africa wouldv'e been completely different to what it is now...


drewjmore
Posted 26 September 2008 at 09:07 am

13th!!!


sefreeman
Posted 26 September 2008 at 09:23 am

Dam interesting.


Hooligan
Posted 26 September 2008 at 10:56 am

I wonder if he ever thought about the fact that dropping the sea levels by 300 ft over such a large body of water would have increased the salt concentration to a level that probably would have turned it into a dead sea.


mjunk
Posted 26 September 2008 at 11:12 am

Another DI article. I wonder if he gave any thought to the effect on shipping in the Mediterranean. I doubt that any system of locks could have kept up with the traffic, not to mention the fact that the lower sea level would have rendered existing port facilities instantly obsolete.


superbad
Posted 26 September 2008 at 11:45 am

So obviously damming the Mediterranean at Gibraltar might not be a great plan, but if there are large current flows through the straits there, they are presumably relatively fast and concentrated in a pretty narrow area (18 miles). Why not install underwater turbines to capture some of the energy? Feasible? Morocco could certainly use the revenue, although it might spark open conflict between Britain and Spain over the ownership of Gib.


Criggie
Posted 26 September 2008 at 01:03 pm

Come on - those who seriously played Sim City would have done this without a moment's thought. I would have.


scrodders
Posted 26 September 2008 at 01:44 pm

We have more concrete now, better technology and less oil. Maybe, like most wild ideas it was just before it's time. When the Panama Canal was conceived by DeLessips it met a lot of criticism. Energy=freedom. Two things that Africa woefully lacks. World politics has written off Africa except for it's diamond mines and some other ore resources. As for the global climate change associated with such projects maybe they could be loaded into the computer models and assessed. Unfortunately, right now most political systems are retreating into more isolationist postures. As usual, a great article by DI.


Paul_in_SF
Posted 26 September 2008 at 03:22 pm

sefreeman said: "Dam interesting."

Augh! Ouch!

(And bravo!)


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 26 September 2008 at 07:03 pm

That German had merit, he thought outside his nations interests and as many have commented; he was ahead of his time. Even now, we are baffled by ocean turbines forever spinning with each wave, adjusting to the tides and storms. His project could have been brought into scale in the North or Baltic sea where Germany had a good deal of sway. Obviously, there would have been a few more world leaders to convince. Even without this plan, Germany, for a time became an electrical powered giant of industry, their rivers serve them well. Iam amazed at how the Nazis could invest heavily in crack pot scemes and turn down others. I do agree w/ the Nazis that the plan was a little too bold... no span across the Straits of Gibraltor would have been possible without the consent of Britian and Her Navy...


Ronald
Posted 26 September 2008 at 08:59 pm

I really don't think he was ahead of his time, I think it was a crackpot idea that could never come to fruition. Maintaining a dam which spans the open sea for 18 miles seems dam near impossible.


c0uchtime
Posted 26 September 2008 at 10:07 pm

I am facinated with the concept of Utopia and the various historical efforts to conceptualize and then try to devise such an undertaking. While there are obvious egotistical elements, at the same time such contrivances are presented for 'the greater good' of all mankind (or all of Europe, in this particular case) and I believe that each version that comes along is heartfelt, sincere, and magnanimous, generally lofty and idealistic. It is therefore a shame that so many people react as naysayers and critics and try to minimize the gesture as that of a 'crackpot'. This was absolutely outside-the-envelope thinking and must have struck a nerve with a lot of people, even if they were mostly frightened of the future, as the author appears to think.


kiwi-guy
Posted 26 September 2008 at 11:29 pm

There's a group currently trying to develop underwater turbines between the main islands of New Zealand. (If anyone wants to know, the islands are called the North Island and the South Island - Damn UninterestingUnimaginative.) Anyways, it will be interesting to see what happens; the ocean is pretty unforgiving.


Watcher
Posted 27 September 2008 at 03:40 am

What is interesting is that he was not thinking about fossil fuel. Is this because it was still not so widespread at the time? My understanding is that most electricity was coal-generated in Europe around that time but this articles suggests that it was in fact hydro. Would love to be illuminated.


Ronald
Posted 27 September 2008 at 07:41 am

c0uchtime said: "I believe that each version that comes along is heartfelt, sincere, and magnanimous, generally lofty and idealistic. It is therefore a shame that so many people react as naysayers and critics and try to minimize the gesture as that of a 'crackpot'. "

He wanted to kill or relocate the inhabitants of the entire continent of Africa. Hitler wanted to create a utopia with the "aryan" race. Many Utopian ideas seem remarkably close to distopia's. We weren't talking about Walden two here, this man wanted to create a limitless power system with which he could unite Europe to stand as an economic equal to the pan-asian and pan-american threat. He wanted to use fear to unite Europe against a common enemy, namely anyone not European. I could say I want to create a paradise on the moon, it does not make me a heartfelt idealist it makes me a crackpot. There are enough idealist out there who actually bring to fruition ideas that benefit humanity I don't believe we need to idolize every person who has a grandiose idea.


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 27 September 2008 at 08:16 am

Ronald, obviously there is solid validity to what you say about people with visions and the unaviodable downsides. The concept of this man in the 30's to simply obliterate the African tribal/social structure does seem a bit narrow and harsh, but that sort of thing should not come as a huge shock or surprise when compared to some other massive historical undertakings (ie. G.W. of China, Trans Siberian corridor, Pyriamids of Egypt and possibly those of the Maya/Aztecs as well).
The "Hitler catch all" has lost alot of its shocking effect, by over use and mislabelling in our generation. I think the Hitler stamp is a bit worn out in our social sence and in the historical sence just because a German and lived between the 30's-50's doesnt mean they were a crazed Hitler stooge, the Nationalist party, in its pure terms had positive ideals to contribute as did Communism, Socialism and Democracy. But as you realize, the more power hungry hands are involved, the further a party drifts from its ideals. So I would not be so fast in stamping this guy a Hitler thug. That will be like stamping all of us Reality TV freaks 60 years from now...just isnt the case.
My opinion is that you are right when you critic the "mega" idealist, the one who wants to reshape the whole world! My view on that is there are alot of other people with plans for this place too... some wealthy, powerful, motovational/charismatic. I think success within the idealists realm is done in little steps and with small significant contributions, not in a plan that will bring us all together, unite us into one common purpose and employ all our strength and resources for an indiefinante period of time... many people just dont buy into scemes of as you put it "of a grandiose nature". Because, like the G. W. of China, the Pyriamids and the T.S. Corridor, it grows to consume both the willing and not so willing. This creates a bondage situation on many levels, none of which include the Saturday night pleasant type...
So yes, I agree this guy was a bit far fetched, well meaning as he could/may have been; but disagree with tying him in with the old catch all Hitler routine to solicit the Fascist BBQ for the sake of discreditation. All Iam saying about that is undoubtably, there were Germans who did not get on the Hitler boat, many outspoken ones paid their price and many beared lifelong hardships and scars as a testament to resisting Hitler.


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 27 September 2008 at 08:25 am

:) After Spell Check!!

Ronald, obviously there is solid validity to what you say about people with visions and the unavoidable downsides. The concept of this man in the 30's to simply obliterate the African tribal/social structure does seem a bit narrow and harsh, but that sort of thing should not come as a huge shock or surprise when compared to some other massive historical undertakings (ie. G.W. of China, Trans Siberian corridor, Pyramids of Egypt and possibly those of the Maya/Aztecs as well).
The "Hitler catch all" has lost a lot of its shocking effect, by over use and mislabeling in our generation. I think the Hitler stamp is a bit worn out in our social sense and in the historical sense just because a German and lived between the 30's-50's doesn’t mean they were a crazed Hitler stooge, the Nationalist party, in its pure terms had positive ideals to contribute as did Communism, Socialism and Democracy. But as you realize, the more power hungry hands are involved, the further a party drifts from its ideals. So I would not be so fast in stamping this guy a Hitler thug. That will be like stamping all of us Reality TV freaks 60 years from now…just isn’t the case.
My opinion is that you are right when you critic the "mega" idealist, the one who wants to reshape the whole world! My view on that is there are a lot of other people with plans for this place too… some wealthy, powerful, motivational/charismatic. I think success within the idealists realm is done in little steps and with small significant contributions, not in a plan that will bring us all together, unite us into one common purpose and employ all our strength and resources for an indefinite period of time… many people just don’t buy into schemes of as you put it "of a grandiose nature". Because, like the G. W. of China, the Pyramids and the T.S. Corridor, it grows to consume both the willing and not so willing, this creates a bondage situation on many levels, none of which include the Saturday night pleasant type…
So yes, I agree this guy was a bit far fetched, well meaning as he could/may have been; but disagree with tying him in with the old catch all Hitler routine to solicit the Fascist BBQ for the sake of discreditation. All I am saying about that is undoubtedly, there were Germans who did not get on the Hitler boat, many outspoken ones paid their price and many beared lifelong hardships and scars as a testament to resisting Hitler.


cinndave
Posted 27 September 2008 at 09:03 pm

First Globus Cassus, now this. What is it with architects and nutty grandiose schemes? Well, at least this isn't as bad as turning the whole planet inside out. Still pretty silly. Most of that land is just going to be stinky mud flats anyway. The concrete caveat isn't really an issue; perhaps they could just make it an earthen dam instead.

The problem with this is that it was based on a worldview forecast that never came true. He thought it was goint to be a 3-way rivalry. He should have realized that a self-sufficient America that doesn't trade with Europe is undesirable. International free trade promotes world peace. the more countries do business with each other, the more they stand to lose if they go to war. Interdependence is good and economically efficient. Regional economic rivalry is what led to WW1 in the first place.


Ronald
Posted 27 September 2008 at 09:39 pm

Girth, real quick response here so as not to side track the topic. I did not mean to use the "Hitler catch all". There are similarities between the two men which I tried to point out. Feel free to remove the sentence with Hitler in it from my original statement and it still conveys my point.


haveacupoftea
Posted 28 September 2008 at 02:59 am

Looking at the map, that guy was a romantic : he would have kept the Venice laguna and built a 500 km / 300 miles canal to keep it connected to the Mediterranean...
Which at that point would have been not 300 ft but 650 ft lower!
The third dam between Sicily and Tunisia was much more than a bridge : between Gibraltar and Sicily the sea level would be 100 m lower, but further East to Sicily it's 200 m (650 ft)!
And the Suez canal would need a few locks (doesn't have any currently).


Nonesuch
Posted 28 September 2008 at 04:48 pm

"From such events Sörgel learned a valuable lesson of persistence-it was a lesson that served him well though the rest of his life. " Perhaps an r could be of use there? Unless you meant though the rest of his life he persisted in riding a bicycle badly or something else not there?
All correction aside, thank you for the interesting dam info.


Joshua
Posted 28 September 2008 at 09:14 pm

Jason Bellows said: "Aside from the fact that the Nazis main interest lay away from Africa, the pith of Atlantropa was to benefit all of Europe, and that was something in which they just didn't give a dam."

Fixed that line for ya, Jason. ;)


klaue
Posted 28 September 2008 at 09:55 pm

Funny coincidence: Yesterday, my mother told me of a theater they watched some days ago where an old lady speaks about her brother and his plans to make a giant dam and lower the sea level for 200 meters.. Yep, she played the sister of Sörgel.


Dr. Bivoc
Posted 28 September 2008 at 10:00 pm

My thought is, thank God the Nazi's did not hold Africa and the Middle East at the end of WWII. This is the kind of crazy idea they might have tried had they not lost. My understanding is they did not think it was possible to do it until they had all of Europe and Africa under their control. And they were not interested in a solution that brought Europe together peaceably. Then, I have a shaded view of that mad man who usurped my family name in the interest of world domination and killed all of my European family, leaving only the few who lived in the USA alive. Few who invoke his name really understand the grand scale he meant to dominate the world. Stalin is the only one who comes close in near history. The Roman generals and Alexander the Great are the closest in history, but they had the idea that the people they conquered were valuable, not disposable.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 29 September 2008 at 02:15 am

Ronald said: "He wanted to kill or relocate the inhabitants of the entire continent of Africa. Many Utopian ideas seem remarkably close to distopia's."

Yes the project would have required a massive relocation of people in africa, but from what I read about the guy, I don't think he meant them ill.
I guess it was more a case of benign condecension, like "Well, they're onky living in huts anyway, and they'll get power and work, and they should be glad for all the stuff we do for them."
Of course that's not the right way to think, but it is not so uncommon: "If I like it, why shouldn't they like it as well? After all I thought it through, and it's the best way to do it."


Reaper
Posted 29 September 2008 at 05:07 am

If nothing else, these ideas could at least spurn people to try to think of mega projects that might actually work. Were it not for people thinking big, the Hoover Dam and Panama Canal wouldn't be. Stonehenge, the pyramids, the Great Wall, all of them would be dreams. Heck, even I'm starting to wonder what kinds earth-changing projects would be feasible.


sleepy39
Posted 29 September 2008 at 11:27 am

DI. Keep 'em coming!


Brombachian
Posted 29 September 2008 at 02:34 pm

It would have been funny to watch all of the Europeans scramble to raise their dam higher and higher as Global Warming (whether man-made or natural) causes the oceans to keep rising.


Lisette
Posted 29 September 2008 at 11:30 pm

DI as usual... :)


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 30 September 2008 at 09:04 pm

Comment #35,
This was a big pet peeve while in College, the Hitler label... The 20 something generation and some of the Academics have completely overused the Hitler label in their psycobabble routine.
You know as well as I do that the name Hitler has been abused, misrepresented and employeed for individual gain in the social/political setting in the last few years...
In the misuse and perversion of Hitlers name, his mention has become a cheesy catch phrase or a label used to try to gain the upper hand in a conversation or to be used to discredit the point of view of an individual, please spare me the sanctity of Hitlers mystic/aura; good or bad, his name has been dragged in the mud and become a mere label that some people have fabricated due to a lack of any other historical figure head to refer, usually because of a lack of formal education. It is just easier for them to call someone a Hitler and convince themselves they have somehow gained an advantage; them having a few friends to act shocked usually adds to the synthetic drama...it is really a treat to observe mass stupidity.
However, Hitler was a monster and historically, fiding redeeming traits and values with in accounts proves difficult. The fact your family and at least 40 million others, including mine, were directly infected by the darkness he promoted stands as a testament to mans stupidity and ambivolence. Using his name in political/social situations for gain is a continuation of that same sort of stupity, like hosting a party in a graveyard...no cooth, no respect. That is what gets me about that label, the lack of respect on a historical level...
If one of the punks who use the Hitler label was actually correct in their assessment, that person would kill every man, woman and child the punk ever knew, take all of their wealth, displace the punk into a work camp letting him slowly eat his own body as his daily labors consumed him. After six or so months his wish for death would come true and his bones would be strewn with his breathren and his ashes scattered to the wind, landing in the nearby fields and woods already coated with the grey of those gone before, never seen or mourned again. Those kids and irresponsible adults need a clue when they refer to Hitler... this is another example of what is wrong with our society, no accountability and no reponsibility for what is said or done. We have the Freedom of speach, yes, but we should consider our words carefully as that Freedom is in fact sacred; then treat it as such would be my advice.
I dont think your view of Hitler is shaded at all, he knowing became the Scurge of Europe.


Ronald
Posted 01 October 2008 at 04:29 pm

That was a very Hitler esque rant


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 01 October 2008 at 05:22 pm

Again Ronald, my points are proved...both historically and socially.
Thank you


MrMarbles
Posted 02 October 2008 at 06:20 am

This is a ridiculous idea. What if something went wrong with one of the dams, and it failed for some reason (earthquake, for example)? The resulting flood would make Hurricane Katrina look like fat kid doing a belly flop in a pool.

Just registered to post this.


smokefoot
Posted 02 October 2008 at 12:59 pm

The guy thought that locating all power production in 3 super-dams would "ease strife among countries by making them interdependent "? No! This would make all the rest of the countries dependent on the 3 or so countries that are adjacent to the dams. These countries could then dictate terms to the rest of Europe.

This is the same reason that Europe can't do anything serious about Russia invading Georgia - Russia supplies too much of the oil to Europe.


another viewpoint
Posted 02 October 2008 at 02:05 pm

...ya gotta crawl before you can walk...ya gotta walk before you can run.

Even mega projects like the Three Rivers Dam in China pale in comparison to building a dam across The Med. We didn't get to the moon on the first space shot and if it weren't for the likes of Alan Shepard and the Wright Bros, we might still be jumping off cliffs with fixed wing add-ons.

There's nothing wrong with dreaming big...but somewhere along the way, ya gotta get your head out of the clouds (and other places) and come back down to join the rest of us in reality-land.


Inti
Posted 05 October 2008 at 04:32 pm

Anyone has an idea of the economic cost of such a project today? There are relatively important quests and endeavors for the benefit of human kind these days that represent a comparatively small cost. For example, Nasa budget for the year 2007 was 17.318.000 U.S.D, this is a minuscule figure compared to the 700.000.000 given by the U. S. congress to bankers in order to solve the financial crisis they alone contributed to bear upon everyone else.

Our world is one of contradiction and nonsense.


Ronald
Posted 06 October 2008 at 07:15 am

Nasa is 17,318,000,000 and the bailout is 700,000,000,000. You were missing a couple zeros there.


sir.xerces
Posted 06 October 2008 at 11:50 am

When I first started reading DI over a year ago, I was so impressed at the rate at which new, interesting stories were published. Recently, however, I have begun to doubt my initial assessment of publishing consistency, laying my hopes instead upon the claim of: "New articles appear twice(ish) a week, though we're aiming to increase that a bit."
I hope the book is worth it.


drewski_brewski
Posted 06 October 2008 at 05:23 pm

I, too, await the next article with bated breath. I still don't know why I ate the bait.


Chewy G.
Posted 06 October 2008 at 07:38 pm

ohhhh yeah..i own. #50!!! But yeah umm pretty fascinating article.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 07 October 2008 at 01:20 am

@Two Cents:
Uhm... Just in case this wasn't as clear as I thought:
In my previous comment (#35) I was not talking about Hitler but about Sörgel.
The bits I quoted from Ronald and couchtime referrred to Sörgel as well.
I'm have no idea how you connected the term "benign condescension" with Hitler ;-)


Two Cents from Girth
Posted 07 October 2008 at 06:53 am

This wierd Mirage... your last post shows as being #52. A comment I wrote earlier and posted was not put on the billboard, it was just a comment I had already written and applied spellcheck. This threw off the count. The comment of mine had nothing to do with "benign condescension", as you correctly pointed out; but with, Bivoc, Comment #34 on your numerical records?


Mirage_GSM
Posted 07 October 2008 at 08:16 am

Ah, that makes a bit more sense, and yes, Bivoc's comment has the number 34 here.
Then again, I didn' completely understand that post in the first place... While he was certainly guilty of most of the crimes he was accused of in the post, in what way has Hitler ursurped any family names?


screwballl
Posted 08 October 2008 at 07:30 am

One point not mentioned here, this was also a way to undermine the southeastern US and Mexico (which may or may not have been part of his plan). With a wet and humid Sahara, the tropical waves coming off the coast would have much more power and potentially produce much stronger hurricanes to blast the Caribbean, Mexico, and southeastern US. Think Category 6 or 7 storms.


steve.fleming
Posted 08 October 2008 at 09:12 am

.02

-- I just wanted to add my two cents, even though I didn't have anything interesting to say.

Just as a side note, I think there are too many fearful people in the world to ever let a plan as grandiose as this one be approved and implemented. Even if you could convince enough of the fearful people (or intimidate them into silence) there would then the the pessimists to try to deal with, and if you managed to get past them, then you would need to deal with the parasites... um, I mean politicians who would be intent on "protecting their own interests" (and making sure they get their slice of the pie) (A nice big slice... with ice cream... MMMmmmm -- Doh, Where was I? Oh yeah) then *If* you managed to get past them, then you would have to deal with the military (again making sure their interests are protected... which would likely include another round with politicians and lawyers) then with all of the people who will be impacted negatively by the changes... even if they are only inconvenienced by them... IF you managed to get past all of those hurdles, then it is very likely you are old and ready to die, or you are out of money, or both. *sigh* Geez... I wonder when I became one of the pessimists I mentioned above...? I think I'm gonna go take a nap.


steve.fleming
Posted 08 October 2008 at 09:13 am

Perhaps I'll go have some Pie with Ice Cream instead of that nap...

heh heh


Dr. Baron von Evilsatan
Posted 09 October 2008 at 06:42 am

Regional economic rivalry is what led to WW1 in the first place."

Actually, a combination of rivalries and alliances were the most direct cause of WW1. A guy from one minor country shoots the ruler of another tiny country, war threatens, each calls in their allies, their allies see the enemies and call on their allies, other countries are now surounded by enemies and call allies, and before you know it the entirety of Europe is embroiled in war because nobody thought to say 'hey, hang on, what are we fighting over again?'


brixton
Posted 09 October 2008 at 07:45 am

So are we ever getting a new article or what?


Dr. Bivoc
Posted 09 October 2008 at 07:14 pm

Two Cents from Girth (#40 on my list), you are more eloquent in your wording. He is a monster, truly, however, too many today do not realize his true nature. He has become, to way too many, a name on a page. Mentioning Hitler as a political monster, has become trite.

Mirage GSM (#53), He used my family name for propaganda, turning it into a curse word. Sadly, even 60+ years later, I still run into discrimination and hatred over that. Most are as small minded as those who try to win an argument by comparing someone to Hitler.

steve.fleming, (#55-56) pie with ice cream and a nap, now that sounds good! It will not solve many world problems, but it will make me feel better until I have to exercise the calories off. lol

brixton (#58), I would like to see a new article soon also, but good writing takes time. And, as I do not have to pay for this site, nor endure large numbers of ads, I will put up with the wait. Alan, keep doing quality work, even if you over-promised on speed early on.


adastra
Posted 12 October 2008 at 11:51 am

I guess DI is gone. Toe well... It was good while it lasted. And now I can be NOT disappointed when I DON"T check the website anymore.

Toe well.

And I ain't gonna buy that !@#$% book, either:-(


Inti
Posted 12 October 2008 at 06:16 pm

Adastra, DI is still alive, it depends on all of us! I have developed a special feeling for this site. This is the only place I have found in which I can exercise my mind among so many fine thinkers, all in a casual and uncompromising manner. What I like most of this place are the debates, especially those that involve the false discourse of pseudoscience against true science.

My deepest honors to all who contribute to DI.


Silverhill
Posted 12 October 2008 at 08:01 pm

Inti, if you have time to spare from reading and contributing here -- and if The Esteemed Authors don't mind my mentioning it -- there's still another, well-respected debate-oriented forum that I think you'd enjoy. (And I don't describe it that way just because I'm one of its moderators.)
So as not to risk implications of spamming, I'll not give the name or link here, but I'll tell anyone who asks me at ps {underscore} silverhill {at symbol} yahoo {dot} com. Please put "Damn Interesting" as part of the Subject line, so I can find it easily.


Richard Solensky
Posted 14 October 2008 at 05:43 pm

We are not dead.

Give Alan a break; running this site is not his day job. And he just finished a demanding period where he was racing a deadline to get the book in order. Now he's dealing with all the promotional matters involved in such a project.

Rest assured, there are a number of DI articles in the pipeline once Alan gets the time to edit them. Keep in mind, no article gets posted until he has had the chance to work with the author to get it into an appropriate style and format.


Swift Loris
Posted 15 October 2008 at 06:01 pm

It doesn't take more than a couple of minutes to put up a quick post saying what's going on and when, approximately, we might expect something new.

When you have a devoted reader base, it's just rude and thoughtless to make them waste their time checking in regularly to see if posting has resumed when you know it won't be for a while yet. We're only going to do that for so long without hearing a word; then we're going to give up and find better things to do.

We're all behind his book and whatever he has to do to make it a success. Heck, there probably wouldn't *be* any book if it weren't for his readers here. We're fine with waiting until things have calmed down--but we need to know he hasn't forgotten all about us as he moves into the big time.


allduerespect88
Posted 16 October 2008 at 04:01 am

I think we should all just shut up and bribe them using the TipIt button below...

Nothing like a few dollars to grease the works.


Ahuva
Posted 16 October 2008 at 08:52 am

I hear a few people angry about not finding the expected new DI article. Well, I'm not angry. I'm worried. Is everything okay? Can we do anything to help?


sachse
Posted 16 October 2008 at 09:58 am

I heard he's working with Radiatidon on a movie deal...I think on the Lifetime Network...Tom Selleck is going to play Don


Richard Solensky
Posted 16 October 2008 at 05:40 pm

One option is that you can join us and write your own DI articles.

We're always looking for more writers (more writers = more articles). Check out the "Submit a Story" and "Join Us" items under the "About" tab at the top of the page.

(We get suggestions every day, some of which aren't even spam. Personally, I appreciate it more when I see at least a few sentences about the suggested topic instead of a bare Wikipedia link.)


uncle frogy
Posted 18 October 2008 at 11:09 am

I do not check out the sight often but I do enjoy the articles on some what obscure historical subjects and facts and such. It would take a lot of time to find all this stuff very stimulating.
The subject of this one is another one. The idea while well intended and "utopian" would be even if possible an unmitigated disaster. Just about the only positive thing would be the electricity. If it would be just the sea level change effects (cost ?) on shipping and ports that would be bad enough, nothing is considered of the effects of the salinity change on life in the Mediterranean Sea and the replacement cost of the food that is produced and depended upon by the people already living there. There is also the negative effects on the disruption to fish migration that involve the Atlantic and Mediterranean tuna for one that would likely become extinct. It is my opinion that if all the costs the direct and the indirect initial and long term costs were taken into consideration honestly and objectively of many major projects they would not be undertaken at least as originally conceived. Things like big dams, strip mining, river channelizing all have negative costs that may out way or at the least equal any of the benefits . The point is that they are never really considered in the first place but are only struggled with as endless mitigation projects. I know of no such project that works with the world as it is and does not involve so much man against the world, man changing the world and not harmonizing with the processes as they are and not trying to alter things, all are very short sighted and narrowly focused.
These kinds of dream projects I would have to call "Terra Forming" so what is lacking is an empty planet to work on say Mars.


Vivid1
Posted 01 November 2008 at 06:56 am

Typo: "the Super-America would need [to] import nothing from Europe". Thanks and great read as always.


dini95
Posted 08 November 2008 at 01:16 am

71!!!!!!!! WooHoo!!!! I bet the book will be awesome!!!


MortallyWounded
Posted 09 November 2008 at 09:46 am

In the technological sense, nothing is impossible. The construction and maintenance of such a dam would only require time, money, and labor, of which Europe has in abundance. But money and labor break down without cooperation, and given the amount of time required to fulfill such a project, the possibility completing such a project is diminished greatly.

It was Sörgel's desire to compete with the Americas that brought this plan to light, but it is that competition which would destroy the dam project in the first place. It's a Catch-22. You can't build Utopia without world peace, and you can't reach world peace without Utopia. The whole world itself is a system of checks and balances. Mann gegan mann.

Then, you've got the man vs. nature aspect. While maintaining the dam would be no easy task under normal conditions, it would be doable, provided the whole dam thing wasn't wiped out by an earthquake or other natural disaster. The climatic changes alone would probably spawn weather patterns destructive to the dam. Nothing mankind has ever created will ever last for eternity. Nature has a way of reducing things back to their elements.


damo
Posted 28 November 2008 at 10:44 am

I'm reading "The Man in in the High Castle" by Philip K Dick at the moment (published 1962). In this story the Nazis have won World War Two and have done exactly this - ie. dammed the Med for farming. That and carried out genocide on Africa.

It gives some context to the last sentence of the article.


sulkykid
Posted 01 December 2008 at 09:25 am

(Sorry for the lateness of this post.)

Does no one see that this could not work? The Med. is at sea level, there is no where for the water to flow to once this dam is built. That's why the Suez Canal has no locks. Sea level is the base level for all water flow on this planet. Or is there a hole in the bottom of the sea? Huge pumping stations could theoretically lower the level, but they would use all of the hydroelectric power and more. (Or was this supposed to be something like a grand scale perpetual motion machine?)


Radiatidon
Posted 01 December 2008 at 01:35 pm

sulkykid said: "(Sorry for the lateness of this post.)

Does no one see that this could not work? The Med. is at sea level, there is no where for the water to flow to once this dam is built. That's why the Suez Canal has no locks. Sea level is the base level for all water flow on this planet.

By blocking all the outflows from the Mediterranean you would create a basin which would continue to fill from all the various rivers and such flowing into it. This would increase the water volume in the Med raising it above sea level. The same principal used to create dams on rivers applies here. The only difference is the scale and multiple dams for the Med vs a single dam for a river.

Remember that the reason for the dam(s) is to restrict the flow of water and creating a reservoir that can be controlled and used at will. Thus the controlled outflow of the Med's water at the dams would turn the turbines for power generation.

On a side-note: One system under review for sea generated power uses two floats, one positioned over the other, with a piston situated between. The natural wave motion moves the floats causing the piston to pump water up a pipe. This water is stored in a reservoir situated on a hill, where it is released to turn a generator. Basically a natural, no emissions power generation plant.

The other system, which is in use now, uses excess grid power, wind power, or solar to pump water up a hill to a reservoir which is then released turning turbines for power generation.

The Don.


sulkykid
Posted 05 December 2008 at 08:45 pm

But that was not the plan! The plan was to lower the level of the Mediterranean. Create new land from the sea floor, etc.


Suchros
Posted 04 January 2009 at 11:43 am

I missed too how much evaporation would occur. I'll dig into sources later I guess :)

I did not check the calculations etc - how much water would actually pass the dams as waterpower. I guess even the "making sahara green"-part would come in this lowering of waterlevel. Nor did I check if the desalination would be done at the dam (a little bit lower saline concentration to the sea).

Taking water off, desalinating and making large hydroponic farms (or irrigation) to sahara along with organic waste transferred to "sandier parts of sahara" to make farmland. Of course these would turn more sahara greener, add rainfall etc but as stated, none can be calculated (yet, at least).

Of course I might have misinterpreted the glance I saw about green sahara below Tunisia and thought the plan was like 6-year-old's daydream. I didn't think... so.

On a more urgent note: anyhow please please do not freeze me (don't use those gulf-currents for energy, we need them here in the north!).


Silverhill
Posted 05 January 2009 at 04:36 pm

sulkykid said: "But that was not the plan! The plan was to lower the level of the Mediterranean. Create new land from the sea floor, etc."
Either way, there would still be a level differential between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. That differential could be used to drive turbines.


yellowdingo
Posted 06 February 2009 at 01:25 am

Raising the MED behind dams would have kept the USA out. It would have provided consistent growth in jobs and required the development of a strong Euro-Russian-Arab Commonwealth.

The problem was the NAZI propensity to Nationalism.


AbuDhabi
Posted 27 July 2009 at 04:19 am

This project is totally something a Dwarf Fortress overseer would do.


Dan Willis
Posted 21 August 2009 at 03:53 pm

What a fascinating bit of historical information. It's good to see men of vision again. Our collective society has become such a group of small thinkers of late, afraid of our own shadows. The very people who would scoff at this project for its scale are the same ones who believe people exhaling is killing the planet.

Whether or not this project was feasible, it's ambition is inspiring. We need more visionaries who aren't afraid to dream big.


donga100
Posted 04 May 2010 at 05:14 am

"lower the level of the Mediterranean by more than 300 feet. 90,000 square miles of new land would be exposed in the area"

So when an earthquake/tsunami/terror attack/accident/other breaks the dam 90,000 square miles of coastal land (usually the most populated) would now be under 300 feet of water. You thought Katrina/New Orleans was bad? Imagine this scenario!

And another thing; if I owned a waterfront property I wouldn't be too keen on it suddenly being 500 miles inland.


SlipperyPete
Posted 17 June 2013 at 03:38 pm

techdawg667 said: "2nd! OMG!"

I hate you, and so should you.


Last
Posted 05 January 2014 at 10:32 am

Can't believe that people comment first on this site, amazingly juvenile for what I thought would have been a slightly more mature audience than that of Youtube videos.


Michael
Posted 28 February 2015 at 06:38 am

you're not last....


END OF COMMENTS
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