Climate Change: Desperate Measures

Four Don Quixote-style climate change projects—and how likely they are to succeed.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


While politicians still debate the when and if of climate change, some governments and corporations are already bankrolling massive projects to stave off the catastrophic effects. But are they just global warming boondoggles?

Action

Good Fences? India’s proposed 10-foot-tall, 2,135-mile immigration fence along its eastern border is a top priority now that climate change is threatening poor, crowded Bangladesh. Cost: At least $1 billion

Dam Yangtze. In an effort to keep Beijing and its surrounding provinces from turning into desert, China is redirecting water over 2,000 miles from the Yellow and Yangtze rivers toward the arid north. Cost: At least $37 billion

Move ‘Em Out. In 2008, the president of the Republic of Maldives (average height above sea level: five feet) suggested starting a fund to buy a new homeland for the country’s 400,000 people. Cost: Unknown

Just Desert. A consortium of companies wants to erect huge solar installations and wind turbines in the Sahara to provide most of North Africa’s energy and 15 percent of Europe’s by 2050. Cost: $630 billion

  Divider Lines
 
   
Distraction?

Definitely. There’s no completion date for the fence, much of which runs through remote mountains; patrolling it long term would cost an estimated $149 million per year.

Probably. Diverting water from the polluted Yangtze may lead to higher concentrations of waste, and some usable water will evaporate in transit.

Probably. The plan is unpopular among Maldivians. Earlier this year the president told the New York Times that citizens “would rather die here” than leave their homes.

Probably not. Even if the project falls short, the carbon savings and technological breakthroughs it could foster would make it worthwhile.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.