In Jacques Leslie's prologue to his book Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, excerpted here at AlterNet, we learn that “between Hoover and the end of the century, more than 45,000 large dams — dams at least five stories tall — were built in 140 countries” and that “the water behind them blots out a terrain bigger than California.” Moreover, Leslie writes that “by now the planet has expended two trillion dollars on dams — the equivalent of the entire 2003 U.S. government budget.”
But here's what could possibly be the most interesting trivia:
The world's dams have shifted so much weight that geophysicists believe they have slightly altered the speed of the earth's rotation, the tilt of its axis, and the shape of its gravitational field.
To repeat: altered the speed of the earth's rotation.
Slightly, that is. But even if the alteration amounts to a mere fraction of a second per day, that dams could shorten or lengthen a year obviously offers a possible solution to a perennial nuisance: earth-bound extinction level asteroids.
In other words, would a hydrological meganetwork of dams hasten the planet's solar orbital journey such that we arrive at the impact point in space and then depart before the asteroid has even arrived?
Trillions of dollars would have to be spent constructing thousands of dams on every river basins in the world, and many trillions more integrating them into urban stormwater management systems; wetland restoration projects; concretized rivers and irrigation channels; fortified lagoons and estuaries; abandoned tunnels; flood control structures; and every faucets, sprinklers, buckets and rolling 'hippos' throughout the world.
At scheduled times during the year, a transnational governing agency chartered to oversee this Super-Versailles would initiate a carefully programmed sequence of valve openings and closings, of inflows and outflows, of discharge and storage. In soporific trickles and raging Jovian torrents, great volumes of water are shifted across the surface of the earth, against gravity, by sheer human will.
And if the calculations prove correct and the hydrochoreography is followed precisely, the earth would then spin a little faster, and we finish the day and reach year's end early.
Over the course of decades, countless miniscule fractions of seconds are saved, albeit probably amounting to a few seconds. Nevertheless, that just might be enough for us to miss our appointment with the Apocalypse.
In the meantime, before we even know if the whole thing actually works, this apocalypse-averting great flush will be treated as the grand spectacle.
Everywhere fountains will spurt with a little bit more mirth and whimsy. Fireworks will lighten up the night skies over the Three Gorges Dam and Aswan Dam, and barbecue pits will be lit beside a raging Los Angeles River. It'll be the only truly international holiday.
Meanwhile, travelers equipped with the latest edition of The Lonely Planet Guide to Super-Versailles will trek to the Aral Sea, the marshes of southern Iraq, the Everglades or and Owens Lake to witness these ancient landscapes get rehydrated with waters from Greenland's ice caps. To coincide with this event, the local tourist agency will stage a naumachia re-enacting The Deluge.
Those with Fodor's will visit picturesque Venice; those with more adventurous spirit and shun guidebooks at will rappel down behind Niagara Falls.
But most importantly, all the Great Water Wars are averted and resolved.