Tuesday Tinfoil: Atlantropa

The Atlantropa Project, or it’s earlier name Pantropa was the brain-child of German engineer Herman Sorgel (1885-1952). The main thrust of the project was to build a dam across the Straits of Gibraltar, generate electrical power for the citizens of Europe, lower the level of the Mediterranean Sea creating new new land area to be used for farming and city building and link Europe with Africa. Also the creation of two inland seas similar to the Great Lakes in North America, Lake Congo and Lake Chad would happen because of flooding of the Congo River. Various other projects on the African Continent would take place, a new Suez Canal Project, a newer “Second Nile River” and other dam projects could solve the ever growing demands for fossil fuels. Another added benefit would be the de-desertification of the Sahara Plains, reverting it to it’s Ice Age temporate climate. Also the more fruit bearing portions of Europe would come back:

The Canal des Deux Mers (Two Oceans Canal) comes to mind, 2 connecting Marseille and Bordeaux, the Mediterranean and the English Channel, the Panropa-Project, which wants to recover Europe’s actual fruit country, the Mediterranean Basin, by uncovering the once flooded areas with the help of the Gibraltar dam.”

That may be so, but the Mediterranean had immense salt plains during the last Ice Age:

At the Strait of Gibraltar, deep, salty Mediterranean water flows into the Atlantic and northward as it mixes up into the salty Gulf Stream surface water. Today some of that mixture flows westward into the Labrador Sea Southwest of Greenland, and much of it also flows beyond the Faeroe Islands off Scotland and eventually into the Arctic Ocean. About 160,000 years ago, an ice age was already under way, and the seas east and west of Greenland were very cold. But the salinity of the mixture reaching Labrador made the water dense enough to sink easily when cooled in winter, and the warmer salty replacement mixture kept the seas south of Greenland relatively warm.

“Storms usually track over areas where warm and cold conditions exist side by side,” said Johnson. This temperature contrast with the Greenland ice sheet and other cold areas kept eastward-moving storms to the north. This channelled large amounts of moisture over both European and Siberian areas, causing enormous growth of the ice sheets there.”

So there’s the rub, build the dam and you may gain in surface area, but you’ll cause and Ice Age because of increasing cloud cover and salinity of the Mediterranean. According to some advocates though, this is to be expected and not a big deal:

Late in the Late in the 20th century, Robert Glenn Johnson, suspecting that the increasing salinity of the seawater exiting the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar might be the near-term future cause of a new Earth ice age – the beginning of its onset predicted 30 years hence – proffered a controversial proposal to study the Macro-engineering concept of a porous barrier, a permeable rubble-mound dam, emplaced in the fluid connection between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea (Johnson, 1997). Johnson’s artificial reef-like rubble pile seawater flow throttle was only intended to slow the outflow of highly saline water, which eventually affects the essential physical characteristics of seawater in the North Atlantic Ocean, in order to prevent ice sheet formation in northeastern Canada. His anti-ice age macroproject rests entirely on the proposition that Egypt’s Aswan High Dam (closed in 1965) has caused the measured increased salinification of exiting Mediterranean Sea water; Johnson’s rubble mound dam – really a proposal for an anthropogenic submarine ridge – becomes an expensive and worthless techno-fix if the Aswan High Dam were simply breached! If the Aswan High Dam were suddenly demolished naturally – as in Michael Heim’s terrifying novel Aswan! (1972) – or simply breached by macroengineers, release of the reservoir’s entire contents would raise temporarily the Mediterranean Sea’s level by about 6.6 cm. (A new Ice Age could cause global sea level to lower! Both the elevating and the declining global sea level will form new base level’s of continental and islandic erosion and also affect national legal systems of real property ownership.) Johnson’s neo-ice age concept of past and future climate changes is fully and carefully described in Secrets of the Ice Ages: The Role of the Mediterranean Sea in Climate Change (2002). By 2006, the scientific controversy over R.G. Johnson’s theory remained scientifically unresolved (Bryden and Webb, 1998; Skliris and Lascaratos, 2004). Both Johnson’s and Sorgel’s barriers would alter (de-tune) the Mediterranean Sea’s tides, in some instances (such as in the case of the Aegean Sea) possibly doubling the amplitudes of its semidiurnal tides. Furthermore, changes of the Mediterranean Sea’s wave climate will also occur (Lionello and Sanna, 2005), forcing prudent revision of existing ship weather-routing procedures. In addition, both barriers would probably terminate the anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide gas drawdown currently performed by the Mediterranean Sea (Alvarez, 2005). It is doubtful that the Gibraltar Strait Dam could imitate China’s Great Wall as a notable impediment to gene flow (Su, 2003).

When Sorgel first proposed the Atlantropa idea, not once did he consider the Africans in the equation. He was a product of his racist times, which considered the white male the pinnacle of God’s Creation. Thus Africa was; ” turned into a territory actually useful to Europe“. I wonder what present day Africans would say about that?

In fact, present day Africans might actually have a lot of say if an Atlantropa ever gets off the grawing board. According to Richard B. Cathcart, founder of GEOGRAPHOS Consultancy and a geographer who specializes in macroengineering projects, the changing demographics of Europe might launch Atlantropa:

Currently, a demographic shift in Europe seems to presage an epoch – occurring, perhaps, sometime around 2010-2050 – that will forever alter Europe’s still distinctive culture: post-World War II Europe has been colonized by Muslims mainly from North Africa. By 2010-2050, Muslims in southern Europe (Spain, France, and Italy) may form ~25% of the total population and working Muslim adults may total ~40% of the available labor force. This means that an almost forgotten macroproject such as the Gibraltar Strait Dam and its associated infrastructure developments may find future acceptance amongst voting citizens of southern Europe and northern Africa. Forecast future climate regimes in the Mediterranean Sea Basin are likely to be the initial stimulation for a re-thinking of the old macroproject proposal (Kepner, 2005). “By…[2050]…North Africa’s population should exceed Southern Europe’s by close to 100 million people” (Sandell (2004). The Netherlands owns infrastructure worth approximately $2.5 trillion – put into perspective, that is equivalent to the annual USA-European Union commercial relationship – that has been emplaced to protect the people of that country from unwanted seawater incursions. There appears to be a 1% chance that a 1 m rise in global sea level will come to pass during the 21st century. [A 2 m rise is the current threshold defining “dangerous anthropogenic” alteration of the world’s ocean level (Hansen, 2005).] Assuming a cost of $1 million/linear kilometer, a total safeguard for the Mediterranean Sea Basin’s coast from incursive future sea level rise might cost almost $13 trillion! Of course, that is an excessive cost, quite unlikely to ever be considered anything other than ultimate limitation (Valiela, 2006). Such a completed macroproject would resemble David Ely’s imagined East Coast USA “dyke-wall” of AD 2064 postulated in his science-fiction novel A Journal of the Flood Year (1992)! Since “miscalculation or sheer ignorance of cost and difficulties was the key to launching a number of great and successful enterprises, from canals and railroads to mining and manufacturing” (Sawyer, 1952), it might seem best, even wise, to glibly gloss over the Gibraltar Strait Dam’s dangers and difficulties in public media so that modern-day macroengineers can be inspiring and calm, reassured by displayable positive cost/benefit analyses, attractive detailed construction blueprints and privately adjustable building timetables! As the 37th CIESM – The Mediterranean Science Commission Congress (7-11 June 2004) collectively generalized, the activities of humans tends to “globalize” the Mediterranean Sea, both biologically and otherwise. Nevertheless, some of the details of this possible macroproject proposal are revealed below. The optimal style of dam building is specific to the particular macroproject, the nature of the geophysical worksite (Anon., 2005) as well as social uncertainty, the undertaking management organization’s experience, the operational complexities of many kinds of construction machinery and worker nationalities, the macroproject’s situational geography and the logistics of its required compositional materials.

The Atlantropa Project is compared quite a bit with the Netherlands North Sea Reclaimation Project with its dam, dike and canal construction. While the engineering end of it isn’t as large in scope as Atlantropa, the tools and know-how utilized are similar because changing coastlines, fresh-water and land reclaimation play a vital role on evironmental impact studies. So the Netherland Project is closely monitored.

Professor Michio Kaku of the City University of New York stated that our present civilization is only a “Type Zero” on the Kardashev Scale of Technical Civilizations (I, II, III and even a IV). Type I indicates the planetary culture has full command of all planetary resources, i.e., can control the weather, use all energy resources (hydro, geothermal, nuclear, wind, solar, etc.) and live under under peaceful, or as close to peaceful conditions as possible. The Atlantropa Project is a terraforming endeavor that could determine whether mankind has what it takes to bring itself to the Type I level without destroying ourselves and the planet.

Is this tinfoil or not? You decide gentle readers.


Gibraltar Strait Dam Macroprojects 





Herman Sorgel

12 responses

  1. My more environmentally aware colleagues probably wouldn’t like the idea of of an “Atlantropa” very much, just for the reasons I stated about altering Earth’s environment. Sorgel didn’t give it much credence, but I think it was more out of ignorance and the belief that technology can solve any problem.

    I find that kind of thinking prevalent in our culture today just by looking at all of our pretty gadgets we carry around. I believe that is false security because any machine can fail and break down, especially with our computers constantly being hacked and viruses (biological and virtual) can be spread around the world in an instant.

    A more harmonious approach is needed. UH would say God is needed to intervene because we screwed things up so bad, Geezer-dude would say Zen and Mother Nature, opit would say WTF! I personally would say that technology can help, but used carefully and judiciously. A project like Atlantropa would be great, but projects along the scale of the Chunnel (English Channel Tunnel) that has a reduced environmental impact is the way to go. At least you don’t have to worry about Englishpeople and the French travelling back and forth to work causing an Ice Age.

  2. Uber Highwayman | Reply

    My thinking hasn’t changed on that either, Marine! 😉

    However, I’m never against any temporary improvements that may benefit society, and it would be a better use for explosives than their current one… dismembering and vaporizing humans!

    At the risk of being labeled a “fundie” again, I’ll just add that I take a literal view of Bible prophecy concerning the eventual fate of the Earth, and it does not show man as the destructive agent in the Earth’s demise, but God… AFTER He’s saved us!

    So, if you want to play with your RDX or your Semtex, or your Composite-4 and TNT, all the power to you! It’s certainly better suited to CONSTRUCTION work and not DESTRUCTION work!

  3. Sorgel never said what kind of explosives were going to be used. I couldn’t find how exactly he thought all of this material was going to be moved. He never gave any indication about any knowledge of nuclear energy being used or any other “esoteric” energy source. All I could find that he advocated dam building and hydroelectric power from them.

    Maybe he thought about using African slave labor since he nary gave the Africans a passing “by your leave” or “f*ck you” or any acknowledgement of any sort. To Sorgel, they were non-people.

  4. Dad,

    Check it out. We got HomeDepot to drop BilloReilly!

    I have the email up on my blog. This follows Lowe’s dropping Falafelboy last week!

    Next stop, JetBlue. Woooooooooohoooooooooooo! 🙂

  5. Any kind of “terraforming project” has to be well thought out to minimize the impact on nature because we share the Earth with other life forms. Because humans are gifted with “intelligence” (some will debate that, I’m one) and self awareness, it falls upon us to be good stewerds. So far we have a big, fat “F” in that regards, but I think it isn’t too late yet. Sorgel’s Atlantropa Project was a purely Eurocentric idea and embraced the Aryan ideal to the maximum.

    Could the project have been carried out using the technology of the day? Most geologists, architects, geographers and engineers say no, the building materials that would have been required just didn’t exist. Steel and ceramics were the strongest materials then and they weren’t up to the task. It wasn’t until after WWII that stronger synthetic construction materials were invented.

    A project of that magnitude couldn’t be attempted until we have a full understanding of Earth’s climate and what affects it. And as you see, there’s a very wide opinion on how that occurs, with no answer in sight either way.

    And while your’re at it, put in a good word for Earth if you want to God. It’s unlikely I’ll stop being an evil back-sliding Baptist, I’m too contrary too change, but if I have to go to Hell with Gandhi, at least I won’t be in bad company. 😉

  6. Uber Highwayman | Reply

    Dad… if that’s what it takes, I’ll reach right into hell and grab you by your jar-head to pull you out!

    Accept it, my friend… I’m on your ass like ugly on an ape! (Or a Rothschild!)


  7. Well Dad, this Sorgel dude was a mighty heavy thinker. Too bad he wasn’t a little more like Darwin or Lao Tzu; then maybe he would have devoted his energies to observation and meditation, where upon he could do something like replanting the “Ceders of Lebanon”. I gotta admit this is some good early tinfoil, but this dude has an ego that won’t quit. I have to say that his proposals, if carried out, would have created disharmonies in mother nature that would have spelled our demise, or in short, we might not even be here…wtf

    “terraforming project” G:? I don’t even advocate curb and gutter, with all it’s storm drains and draining off the Earth’s natural water. In the words of Lao Tzu

    Do not lead for i will not follow

    Do not follow for i will not lead


  8. Uber Highwayman | Reply


    My philosophy?

    “Go ahead and lead… I’ll follow… until you get lost, then I”LL lead!”


  9. UH: Okay bro, you’re on! I’ll hold you to that! 😉

    And our boy Bu$hco gave apes a bad name just by looking like them! It was a dark day for primates when G.W. appeared on the Earth!

    G: Yeah, Sorgel was a WASP ego-maniac, but you have to give the devil his due sometimes. The Germans and other Eastern Europeans during the first part of the 1900s were f*cking geniuses! Tesla, Einstein, Heisenberg, Oppenheimer to name a few.

    Unfortunately, their moral compass, with the exception of Einstein and possibly Tesla, did not match their scientific acumen.

    As for leading or following, I walk my own path. I neither lead or follow.

  10. You guys are a frickin’ riot, ya know that? 😉

    Interesting and I agree about Tesla and Einstein.. pure geniuses!

  11. Ain’t it kewl Suzie? 🙂

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