There’s a paradox that’s drifting in the ocean; a guy can be surrounded by water and die of thirst, because none of its waters are drinkable unless the guy has access to some form of desalination.
What is desalination? Most people are hoping it’s a technology that will save and reinforce the earth’s dwindling water supply. Our globe is more than 9 / 10 undrinkable salt water, and from the beginning people have either marveled at the irony of that or tried to find some way to make all that water drinkable. Hence we have the creation of desalination technology.
The process of desalination isn’t foolproof, or even proven reliable, but it is a fascinating study into what might one day be a scientific winner. The technology drains salt deposits and their mineral cousins out of salt water, so that the saline eco-system is restructured chemically into a fresh - water system. By this means, people hope eventually to make the oceans drinkable.
It’s been a tough road for this brand of science, because the non - salty water produced, although technically fit for consumption (and animals less fastidious than man sometimes gulp it down if they’re thirsty enough) isn’t tasty, inspiring or sufficiently pure for human use on a regular basis.
The desalinated liquid that is produced is much better for watering crops, and a number of farms in Africa, Australia and Central America are currently running agricultural sites next to the ocean. The foodstuffs (especially the grains) produced aren’t salty in taste, contrary to what one might think, and they serve as decent fodder for most animals, aside from that picky species, man.
All of this came about because inventors in the 17th century first conceived of the idea of fresh - water - creating machinery on the seashores of the world. They probably imagined the processing places becoming spas, famous for baths and delicious waters, but only farms and some remote saltwater bathhouses were remotely successful. And of course all the spas eventually failed for lack of support or interest.
But the idea was still viable, so when hydroelectric power was invented, and the chemists of the 1900s swung into action, the process of desalination gained ground in the scientific community.
Because massive spas were impractical, 20th century researchers created portable machinery that could be moved from one section of the coast to another. These units are still in operation, and have produced both the crop irrigating hydration necessary for several farms, and some of the bottled mineral water which, despite fancy labeling and heavy advertising, hasn’t really caught on with American consumers.
Make no mistake, the water produced by desalination is viable, mineral free and safe, but not enjoyable enough (even if one could be fooled into thinking it’s a health food) to consume in enough quantities to make marketing feasible. In short, the water hydrates, but does not refresh. Another disadvantage is the fact that the process burns a lot of fossil fuel, so people may have to make a trade - off: keep the gasoline or get better water, eventually.
While we wait on the technology, we still have all the ocean’s waters. Hopefully desalination will make sure we never waste them.