Can Captain Kirk Save California?

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

California is facing a severe drought, and William Shatner wants to help.

In an interview with Yahoo, Shatner announced he wants to start a $30 billion Kickstarter campaign to build a pipeline in California. He clearly doesn’t have a lot of the details worked out yet, though.

“California’s in the midst of a 4-year-old drought,” he said. “They tell us there’s a year’s supply of water left. If it doesn’t rain next year, what do 20 million people in the breadbasket of the world do? In a place that’s the fifth-largest GDP—if California were a country, it’d be fifth in line—we’re about to be arid! What do you do about it?”

He pointed out that they managed to build a pipeline in Alaska, so why can’t they do it along Highway 5?

“How bad would it be to get a large, four-foot pipeline, keep it above ground—because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!” he said.

While he probably already knows that his pipeline is really more of a pipe dream, he’s talking it up because he wants to raise people’s consciousness about just how severe the drought is. And he did say he’d bring whatever money he can raise to a politician who can actually get the pipeline built. No one’s stepping forward, though, and experts doubt that he has a plan for it that’s actually feasible. And Kickstarter has never had a project with a financial scope in the billions.

But Shatner has already done enough impossible things in his life that one can almost believe he’d pull it off. In the 1970s, post-Star Trek, roles were so scarce for him that he lost his home and lived in a truck bed camper in the San Fernando Valley. Now, at 84, his career is booming. He’s on TV all the time as either a guest or a star of his own show; he’s made oodles of money from his stock options in Priceline; he’s written numerous books, both fictional and autobiographical; he recorded a wake-up call for the Space Shuttle Discovery; and he’s a social media superstar, with a Twitter following of over two million people. He’s also got a couple of YouTube channels.

So can all that clout help him build that pipeline? He suggested Seattle as the best place to source the water, but Paul Faulds, water resources manager for Seattle Public Utilities, says there is no surplus to share. Alas, those doubting experts probably have it right.

So maybe he doesn’t quite have all the facts in place, but that wouldn’t be the first time Captain Kirk made up a rash plan at the last minute and saved the universe, so anything’s possible.

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