Twenty-eight prominent American scientists and engineers have proposed that the US and Mexico jointly build a 1,954-mile green energy and industrial corridor along the border, instead of the wall craved by US President Donald Trump.
The idea seems too big, too aggressive, but consider the Roman aqueducts or the transcontinental railroads– Prof. Ronald Adrian
The plan envisages a trans-continental string of solar farms, wind turbines, farms, pipelines for water and natural gas, desalination plants and industrial start-ups – all bringing energy, water and jobs to the region.
It would provide border security, as well, they say, because the enormous infrastructure scheme would have to be protected.
Energy parks would be an economic driver as businesses would be attracted to the region by cheap electricity and plentiful water, desalinated at either coast and transported by pipe.
Luciano Castillo, Purdue University’s Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems, and lead of the consortium, says if enacted, the mega infrastructure project would have a historic positive effect for both nations.
"Just like the transcontinental railroad transformed the United States in the 19th century, or the Interstate system transformed the 20th century, this would be a national infrastructure project for the 21st century," he said.
"It would do for the Southwest what the Tennessee Valley Authority has done for the Southeast over the last several decades."
Ronald Adrian, Regent’s Professor at Arizona State University and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, said the proposal, although huge, was worth serious study.
"At first blush the idea seems too big, too aggressive, but consider the Roman aqueducts or the transcontinental railroads – enormous undertakings that gave enormous benefits.
"The cost of providing basic, essential infrastructure to the border lands is tiny compared to the opportunities it creates."
He added: "I view this project as a means of creating wealth by turning unused land of little value along the border into valuable land that has power, water access and ultimately agriculture, industry, jobs, workers and communities. With only a wall, you still have unused land of little value."
Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Regent’s Professor at Arizona State University, said a cooperative effort between the US and Mexico would reinforce the cultural ties that have existed for hundreds of years.
Jay Gore, another Purdue professor, said the project "must be a private-public venture driven by free-market forces".
"It would require assuring border security first, industrial-scale infrastructure second, and an educated workforce, third," he said.
"The private capital will flow to secure, infrastructure-ready and educated areas with great priority. Over the years, I have learned from some of the most distinguished experts, including Nobel laureates, that for an entrepreneurial economic boom to happen it requires the availability of secure land, energy, water and an educated workforce."
More information on the proposal can be found here.Â
Image: The plan envisages a trans-continental string of solar farms, wind turbines, farms, pipelines for water and natural gas, desalination plants and industrial start-ups (Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones)
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