Environment: No Drought of Far-Out Ideas

The idea sounded beguiling. In a letter to President Carter, California's Representative John Burton wondered whether his drought-stricken state could import snow or runoff water—perhaps by pipeline or railroad—from inundated Eastern areas like Buffalo. But empty pipelines are not available, and state officials, after some reckoning on their calculators, found that 182 million railroad carloads of water or snow would be required to make up for California's water shortage alone. Estimated cost of such an operation: $437 billion.

Other well-meaning if farfetched schemes have been suggested as instant solutions to the Great...

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