Ever since the beginning of Trump's election into office, one concern has been at the forefront of his administration: Border control. His adamant opinion of our country's border safety has been the headline of news for months on end, with The Wall leading his ideas towards reality. But Trump's Wall is a divisive concept for the citizens of our country. Some people claim it to be inhumane and an irresponsible use of funds, while others praise it for its promised effectiveness at reducing illegal immigration into the US.
From what the media tells us, Trump's Border Wall is a self-explanatory concept. It's made out to be a physical wall that stretches for 722 miles along the US-Mexico border. Instead of the original plan to install a 30-foot tall concrete wall, the Trump administration is now planning to use the existing infrastructure of fences and walls to build upon. Drones and other security measures will be on the constant lookout for suspicious activity.
While this altered plan for Trump's Border Wall has reduced some of the country's disapproval, it is still a far cry from being an accepted and supported plan. However, a new eco-friendly border wall alternative to Trump's Wall has just been proposed; One that would provide water and sustainable energy for our country while simultaneously closing the border.
A New Kind of Wall
Rather than a heavy duty concrete barrier, this new eco-friendly border wall plan takes an innovative and sustainable approach to border control. From the minds of a consortium of 28 engineers and scientists comes the proposal for an "industrial park" along the US-Mexico border. This park would take advantage of the miles of border space not only for immigration control, but also sustainable practices.
On the proposal, scientists and engineers suggest the installation of solar energy panels, wind turbines, natural gas pipelines, and desalination facilities. Essentially, the plan is for the border to consist of numerous high-tech facilities to be put in place to generate renewable energy for the US, and provide water for areas that are experiencing severe drought. All of these facilities would (in theory) be continuously heavily guarded for simultaneous border control and resource generation.
The plan for the eco-friendly border wall includes solar panel stations, desalination facilities, and wind turbines for renewable energy
While this eco-friendly border wall does offer many positive points, it still falls under one huge concern for our country: The cost. The original plan for the wall comes in at 18 to 20 billion dollars over 10 years as part of President Trump's fiscal 2019 spending package. Like the original plan, this new industrial park alternative won't be cheap. Just the solar aspect alone will require an estimated 8 million solar panels, costing about 4.5 billion dollars alone.
But, scientists and engineers report that the areas along the border are actually ideal for generating renewable energy. According to the plan's white paper, the area around the Gulf and Baja California experience near-constant high winds, which would be ideal for the installation of wind turbines for energy. Likewise, the desalination facilities would make water readily available for areas in need, such as California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Luciano Castillo, Purdue University's Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems, claims that the industrial park plan really is the best of both worlds. He suggests that not only would it protect the border, but it theoretically would not cause as much tension for US and Mexico relations. In fact, he suggests that the process will hopefully be interpreted as an opportunity to address existing environmental concerns. New jobs could be created, innovation in renewable energy could expand, and scarcity of resources could be helped.
The industrial park plan also has the potential to help pay off some of its debt over time. It's true that the cost of putting the whole plan into action is high, but unlike the original concrete wall plan, this one has the ability to pay for itself as it works. Castillo claims that the taxes, abundant resources, and economic value that would be added to these regions would serve as an incentive to help pay for the cost of infrastructure.
As for the actual funding for the eco-friendly border wall, the white papers outline that both countries involved would capitalize on the project with government investments. These investments would then lead to private sector investments and involvement from major US solar manufacturers. Additionally, the plan aims to create partnerships with major US universities, laboratories, and industry leaders, as well as participation from any of the above located in Mexico.
What a Renewable Energy Wall Could Mean
Aside from the job generating potential, the wall alternative is also a great way for our country to tackle some of our more pressing carbon emissions issues. It's no secret that the United States is a huge contributor to pollution and excessive energy usage. Take the comparison of the average American citizen with the average Chinese citizen for example. Although China has 4 times the population that we do, China as a whole's emissions are only double that of America's. That means that the average American citizen is responsible for double the greenhouse gas pollution as their Chinese counterpart.
America is a major contributor to the planet's pollution problem, with the average US citizen's greenhouse gas emissions doubling that of their Chinese counterpart
With our heavy use of greenhouse gases, it's no wonder that the search for renewable energy is at an all-time high. Solar energy, (including the possibility of solar farms in space) is taking a front-seat in renewable energy research. Naturally, the innovation of solar energy and its capabilities will be major selling factors for the industrial park wall alternative; One that, with more research, could alter the path of climate change in the years to come.
Regardless of political view, this plan for an eco-friendly border wall has benefits for both parties. For those aiming for more secure borders, these institutions would be a guarantee of security with 24/7 surveillance. For those looking for what Castillo calls a "New Green Deal," the industrial park would serve as a hub for renewable energy research and generation. Either way, the concept for an industrial park is certainly outside-the-box, but that may be just what our country needs right now.