Monday, March 24, 2008

The pipe dream of solving environmental problems

Try to imagine solving some of our serious environmental problems like CO2 emissions. Is it hard? Do the solutions seem impossible? Often it's a failure of imagination that limits us.

Do you believe me? Here's an example of an impractical pipe dream solution made real.

Suppose you're working on a serious human health crisis, caused by environmental contamination. And suppose further that a solution exists, but it requires creating a buried network of pipes that goes to everyone's home, and delivers an antidote to the disease. And the antidote has to be available 24/7, on demand. You propose this solution, and everyone laughs, and says move on to the next idea since your dream of pipes is just that, a pipe dream. Who could ever imagine getting all those pipes in place?

Well, you get the last laugh since the disease is diarrhea and dysentery and the pipe dream solution is our public water supply system, currently in place in much of the developed world. Impractical? Hardly.

So next time you're imagining a pipe dream solution to a big problem like, say, CO2 production and climate change, remember the dream of pipes that is now real in most of the developed world. If our forefathers can make that dream real, we can make our dreams real.

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