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  • This RealLifeLore video is made possible by Brilliant. Get help learning calculus,

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  • So this is the Mediterranean Sea, which is surrounded by 21 different countries.

  • But what would happen to these 21 countries and the rest of the world if we somehow

  • managed to drain all of the water out of it?

  • It's not as far-fetched of an idea as you may think it is at first

  • Back in the 1920s a man named Herman Sorgel had a very similar idea that helps to illustrate how this may be

  • possible. His idea was called the Atlantropa project.

  • And it's basically what engineers create whenever they've had a bit too much whiskey to drink the plan took into

  • consideration that the Mediterranean Sea is naturally evaporative,

  • which means that more water evaporates out of the sea then flows into it by rivers and streams.

  • The difference is made up by salt water that flows into the sea through the Strait of Gibraltar,

  • which means that in theory, if you could block off this water flow you could begin to drain the water out of the entire rest

  • of the sea. Sorrell intended to build a colossal dam here for that exact purpose

  • Along with another dam here between Sicily and Tunisia to divide the Mediterranean into two separate

  • halves and a third dam here to block off the water from the Black Sea from getting through. The plan involved lowering the water levels

  • by 100 meters on the western side of the Mediterranean and by 200 metres on the eastern side. This would have drained about

  • one-fifth of the entire

  • Mediterranean Sea, which means that it would have created about 576,000 square kilometers

  • of new land (an area roughly the size of Spain and Ireland combined)

  • The continents of Europe and Africa would be directly connected and this new continent was

  • intended to be called Atlanta. The new land around the Mediterranean was intended to be colonized by new

  • European settlers. The combined two dams could probably have provided enough clean

  • hydroelectric power for all of Europe and the project would have employed hundreds of thousands of people for the

  • 100 years that it was planned the project would last for. So why wasn't it ever built? Well, for starters, the

  • Mediterranean Sea is salty which means that all that freshly exposed land would be salt flats and useless for any agriculture.

  • It was also

  • calculated by some architects that there wasn't enough concrete in the entire world to build the dam of Gilblter. Anyway let alone the other two

  • dams that were part of the project,

  • it would have also required an enormous amount of international cooperation and the 21

  • Mediterranean coast countries that I mentioned previously, all would have coastal cities.

  • That would be very upset that they were no longer on the coast. Even if it was somehow built, one well-placed

  • nuclear bomb on the Gibraltar dam would cause a biblical style flood that would destroy the entire project

  • instantly and ruin the lives of millions of people. In addition, the planners didn't take into

  • consideration at all how the project may have impacted weather patterns across Europe and Africa.

  • But let's get back to what the title of this video is all about: what if the dam at Gibraltar was actually somehow

  • built and we decided to drain out all of the water in the Mediterranean Sea?

  • What would happen next?

  • Well ,for starters, the entire area that once made up the sea would likely become a vast desert with the hottest

  • temperatures anywhere on earth enormous canyons would plunge as deep as five

  • thousand metres below sea level and the temperature down here could approach an

  • unbearable 80 degrees Celsius. For comparison, the hottest temperature ever recorded so far on the Earth's surface was

  • 54 degrees Celsius in Kuwait. In addition, even though the water in the

  • Mediterranean would be gone, the salt that used to be in the water would remain on the land in thick built-up layers.

  • All of the newly exposed land would be a salty dry and fiercely hot desert

  • that would be incredibly hostile to any form of life or

  • settlement. It could almost be seen as an extension of the Sahara Desert in Africa.

  • But the desert wouldn't just end here: an

  • enormous amount of southern Europe and Turkey would rapidly become a desert, as well with Portugal, Spain, France, Italy,

  • Albania, Greece and Turkey being the most severely affected.

  • The entire balkan and Alpine regions would see significantly less rainfall as a result - which means that

  • agriculture across most of Europe would be severely damaged.

  • But the rest of the world would be severely impacted. Well,

  • because the massive amount of water located inside the Mediterranean would have to go somewhere,

  • it would end up being redistributed

  • into the world's oceans.

  • Which would raise sea levels everywhere else by roughly 10 meters from where they are today.

  • This would be catastrophic in an opposite way and lead to cities like New Orleans, Sacramento Amsterdam

  • Copenhagen and Shanghai going completely

  • underwater.

  • Predicting the weather is a very hard business AND predicting how exactly removing an entire body of water as large as the Mediterranean

  • would impact the global climate is nearly impossible!

  • But it certainly wouldn't be good needless to say this entire thing is probably a very bad idea.

  • Figuring out what would happen if we drained the Mediterranean Sea without actually doing it is complicated.

  • There are many different possible scenarios.

  • And I've made several simplifying assumptions in this video to arrive at the answer. If you've watched other videos of mine

  • then you know that I love figuring out all kinds of absurd

  • scenarios from what the economy of a reunited British Empire would look like today to how much a

  • supermassive black hole would weigh in units of Toyota Corollas. As much as I love explaining the absurd,

  • I think that everyone should be able to do that and the best way is to practice it yourself.

  • brilliant.org is the perfect website to do this on. It's a problem solving website that teaches you how to think like a

  • scientist by guiding you through problems to solidify your understanding.

  • They take real-life problems like these, dissect the problem into manageable bits,

  • analyze the implications and present an interesting

  • conclusion. If you visit brilliant.org/reallifelore or click the link in the description, you can sign up for free and begin

  • learning about all kinds of things and as a bonus,

  • exclusive for RealLifeLore viewers, the first 200 people will also get 20% off of their annual

  • membership. If you learn anything interesting then please let me know below in the comments! :D

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B1 mediterranean sea dam water desert project

What Would Happen If We Drained the Mediterranean Sea?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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