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De-desertification of Entire Sahara?

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posted on May, 13 2009 @ 08:22 AM
Hello all you wonderful people at ATS!

I must firstly launch this disclaimer:
This idea was totally and fully thought up by my closest friend and priceless associate in all matters, who I will call Chicchan (I'd give you his real name if I get his approval, this thread all in his honour).
This idea came to him about one and a half years ago.

Take the entire coast line of Africa, or, either the west or the north approach to the vast Sahara Desert (I'd prefer the west because of my compassion of the poor suffering in occupied West Sahara, "the forgotten West Bank").

Construct, all along the Saharan beach head, irrigation complexes of massive capacities and start growing fathomless areas of sand-binding, salt-water drinking grass. Plants like Salt Marsh Grass, Paspalum and Maiden Grass.

When this massive project has not only put many people at work, and thus, contributed to employment and peace, it is time to make the great leap;

Construct, ground-breaking, salt-water distilleries. More or less in the same number and size as the above mentioned irrigation plants/systems.

Make lots and lots and lots of fresh water out of the Atlantic, and/or Mediterranean.

Plant further flora; Palm Trees, thick green grass, weeds, cacti, or whatever! Make a freaking Red Wood grow up and thrive, or put the aim on Mahogany and Teak jungle! (Remember that this is a transformation of the Sahara that should last of as long as the rest of the planet itself!).

Ta-daa! Less desert, more arable land, cattle, less C02, cleaner world, less struggle for limited areas, less starvation and famine, all of it!

That's the plan!

What I would now fancy to discuss are other member's ideas on how to refine this idea and fight out any crazy problems within it (I know there are plenty, but try to open up you imagination and let it loose). Just imagine that you have at your disposal a massive array of engineers from all the great construction companies, such as Atlas Copco, ABB or, why not Haliburton
(maybe it's time for them to come around...)
Also not to forget; you have the political support for it, more or less globally, so your budget is not an issue.

I would so love for this to be "The Great 2012 Event"...
I am such a romantic...

Rock on everybody!

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 08:50 AM
Possible but not likely to happen while we have capitalism.

I always find terraforming plans to be extremely interesting - before going ahead with any plans to "reforest the Sahara" though we would have to undertake a massive environmental impact survey.

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:10 AM
I don't think we would need the environmental study, as this land was once dense forest land. We would be "restoring" it to its former glory.

Pumping massive amounts of freshwater inland, would adversely affect the coastline and sea, but creating a "green" buffer zone to change natural wind currents, add a cooling effect, and cause regular rain showers should be a great primer. Maybe you could pick a couple of thousand acres with a favorable plateau or wind sheer, plant the windward side, irrigate it, and let nature takeover from there.

It seems fairly straightforward and not that expensive to do a test case. Surely there are some charitable organizations that could fund a test run. If adapting 40 acres, favorably affects 400 acres, then I think you have a good working model.

I believe the global community would be against this. It would surely have unforeseen implications in world weather patterns, and economic impact as new farmland became possible, starvation dwindled, and wars tapered off in Africa. I don't think our developed countries want to see that!

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:18 AM

Originally posted by getreadyalready
I believe the global community would be against this. It would surely have unforeseen implications in world weather patterns, and economic impact as new farmland became possible, starvation dwindled, and wars tapered off in Africa. I don't think our developed countries want to see that!

Perfectly stated. Sorry, OP, I don't mean to be so pessimistic but saving the starving would hurt the rich and, well, we all know who runs things.

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:28 AM
I like the idea, but wonder how you'll generate the power to run the distillazation plants?

I like Getreadyalready's idea, but as noted, would it be allowed?

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:28 AM
edit due to technical (link) difficulties.

[edit on 13-5-2009 by whitewave]

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:33 AM
reply to post by Raud

Seeing as this is a purely hypothetical thread, but perfectly feasible if countries allocated a tiny fraction of their Military spending towards schemes such as this, I offer up an example of what can be done:

Israel is a country on the very edge of the desert. 60% of the country's land is desert, but from the early 20th century, before anyone alse, one the Zionist movement's most important goals was to "make the desert bloom". Planting trees, growing agriculture in the desert, moving water to dry areas, building desert settlements, all of these were used to a great extent. Today, Israel's Negev desert is retreating, with more and more of its land becoming fields and forests. Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a retreating desert, and is one of the world's leading nations when it comes to anti-desertification


and to balance the political/ideological scale, here are Egypts plans:

Three decades ago, a drive along the main road from Cairo to Alexandria was a sleepy trip through the desert, with nothing to see but a blank sandy expanse. But today that road is lined with prosperous farms, neon-colored citrus fields, and farmers toiling in the suddenly fertile stretch of earth known as Tahrir Province.
This changing vista is just one example of Egypt's ambitious plan to cultivate the deserts that consume most of its landscape, a government policy that has been on the books for decades but which is only now achieving large-scale success.

Link 2

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:44 AM
Like all bleeding heart liberal plans.....there is only one MAJOR issue.

That would be the people that actually live there!

It wouldn't take them but about 5 seconds to start killing each other for the resources and tribal differences.

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 09:50 AM
reply to post by bismarcksea

Like all scarce resources, the idea is to make scarce resources plentiful ... if arable land is plentiful across many borders then conflict over that land is reduced.
Stop blood diamonds by flooding the market with gem quality manufactured diamonds, or, if you want to reduce gang wars and increase taxation revenue in the USA, de-criminalise certain drugs.

Not always practical but you get the idea.

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 11:04 AM
We probably do have the technology to accomplish this. But I don't think that anybody would be willing to pay for it.

Plus, you'd have to irrigate the whole area because I don't think that rain would begin to fall just because you have restored the flora. I could be wrong about that though.

posted on May, 13 2009 @ 11:26 AM
Hello again, and thank you all for the great replies!

The current project in what seems both Israel and Egypt sounds fantastic!
I can't believe I've never heard of it...
Well, at least it proves that the whole idea is plausible!

For you who think this is impossible due to economics and stuff, I ask to repeat myself; I hope for this to be the "enlightenment" of 2012.

Already we know that money is under control by groups that have little, or no interest in "common good" or saving the planet for that sake.

But tell me this; what is control of finances if not control of technology?
If there was no money, technology would be limitless.
For more takes on this, one should really watch "Zeitgeist: Addendum".
The term "Technology" is not only transport, communication and health care.
It is also food processing, environmental preservation and peace keeping.

I don't think the people in these regions would mind having arid land turned green.

I think this concept is all but impossible. We have the technology for it, we have the knowledge, we have (obviously) practical evidence that it works and, most of all, we have a itsy-bitsy, tiny planet in desperate need of help that we must survive on.

Keep coming with ideas and thoughts!

posted on May, 14 2009 @ 06:20 AM
Great thread! It was more difficult to find links for current ongoing desert reclamation projects in the Sahara than I thought it would be. The most frequently cited were the projects already mentioned above. Here are a few that express the need, or attempt to kick start programs.

Movie: (click on choices at bottom of page)

posted on May, 14 2009 @ 06:39 AM
reply to post by TheComte

TheComte, I did find some links and research that pointed to the exact opposite of what you might think: Flora does cause rainfall!

More rain makes for more plant growth: that much is obvious. But now a statistical study of satellite images has added weight to the reverse notion: more plants also make for more rain. The result adds to the impetus to preserve green spaces in dry regions, in order to help prevent deserts from growing and encroaching on agricultural land. Greenery can have a number of effects on a local climate. Plants are thought to transfer moisture from the soil into the air by evaporation from their leaves, and hold water in the soil close to the surface, where it can also evaporate. What is more, the darker surfaces of plants compared to sandy deserts also absorb more solar radiation, which, along with their rough texture, can create convection and turbulence in the atmosphere. This might create more or less rainfall.

Biology News

However, it must also be remembered that there are more variables ... very complex variables such as sea currents and temperatures etc. It is not as simple as just planting trees.

posted on May, 14 2009 @ 06:48 AM
reply to post by elfie

Here is more on why most deserts are usually found on the Western side of continents:

The latitudinal explanation, however, is only partial. Around the mid-latitudinal belt, only the western side of continents is normally occupied by deserts, while the eastern side is covered by forests. The reason for this has to do with the global circulation of ocean currents: gravitation from the sun and the moon pulls air and water on the earth's surface and tends to make them lag behind, relative to the earth's rotational movement. The gravitational drag is greatest in the equator, where the centrifugal speed of the earth is fastest. Thus, as the earth turns, ocean currents and winds flow in the equator from east to west, tugged by universal gravitation, forming the equatorial currents and the easterly trade winds. As the westbound surface waters move away from the continents, they pull cold, nutrient-rich waters to the surface that generate a cool, stable coastal atmosphere, with little evaporation from the sea and very low rainfall other than morning fogs


posted on May, 14 2009 @ 08:43 AM
reply to post by deltaalphanovember

Transpiration was exactly what I was thinking about when I said I wasn't sure about it. But, yes there are many other factors that would affect it.

Nice find.

posted on May, 14 2009 @ 08:54 AM
Desalination plants don't necessarily require huge amounts of power in hot (sunny!) climates like North Africa and certainly not the Sahara.

The key is to induce evaporation and condensation of water, leaving salt and mineral crystals behind, using "pressure bins" or just plain old evaporation "tents". True, the scale of operations has to be large enough to make it worthwhile but it seems to me that with the vast resource of the Sahara Sun on hand this makes sense. The technicalities are relatively straightforward compared to oil drilling.

Hell, any survivalist worth their salt (get it?) knows how to collect water using condensation from the air or crushed vegetation. The process is effectively the same even on a large scale but with a ready supply of seawater at hand it makes life a lot simpler.

There was talk of this a while back, The Sahara Forest Project I think, but I haven't heard about it recently. Water will become the "oil" for this region, perhaps driving a pipeline far south from the Med coast.

posted on May, 14 2009 @ 09:03 AM
reply to post by SugarCube

Thanks for the info on the Sahara Forest Project. Learn new things everyday!

The Sahara Forest Project combines two proven technologies in a new way to create multiple benefits: producing large amounts of renewable energy, food and water as well as reversing desertification. A major element of the proposal is the Seawater Greenhouse - a brilliant invention that creates a cool growing environment in hot parts of the world and is a net producer of distilled water from seawater

Sahara Forest Project

Quite a few google links to this future project!

posted on May, 15 2009 @ 02:04 AM

Originally posted by Desert Dawg
I like the idea, but wonder how you'll generate the power to run the distillazation plants?

Sun and wind power?
Plenty of both!

I kind of like the sort of dilemma over this project; that money is not the solution, it's the main problem itself!
This project can only be done, to full extent, without the influence of money!
"Good will" and such thoughts only resides in the minds of people without the urge for profit.

Stinkin' reality!

posted on May, 15 2009 @ 03:50 AM
I would not have any trouble growing crops using brackish water.

There is plenty of good land in the Calif Mojave desert that the only problem with it is the ground water is brackish.

You can pump large amounts of water with wind turbines.

You can use Solar Trough Collectors and run the hot oil through a heat exchanger of a vacuum distillation unit to turn brackish water to distilled water.

In many areas the surface dirt is not salty so that you could grow with drip water system directly in the ground
In a few places the surface dirt is salty but even there the land could still be used for crops by using hydroponic growing systems.

This is one company that grow tomatoes in greenhouses in the desert

The largest commercial hydroponics facility in the world is Eurofresh Farms in Willcox, Arizona, which sold 125 million pounds of tomatoes in 2005.[10] Eurofresh has 318 acres (1.29 km2) under glass and represents about a third of the commercial hydroponic greenhouse area in the U.S.[11] Eurofresh does not consider its tomatoes organic, but they are pesticide-free. They are grown in rockwool with top irrigation.

Coordinates: 32°28'5"N 109°56'35"W

Anyone have 10 million they will loan me i have just the place to do it.
Its a old alfalfa farm that is for sale because the wells became to salty to grow the alfalfa crop and it was too expensive to pump water with electricity.
they never tried to pump there water with wind turbines and to clean it up to using solar. and plant less water intensive crops
Coordinates: 35.3691753N -117.8067398W
Coordinates: 35.2921499N -117.9931641W
The wind conditions are right in the area, there is a wind turbine farm being built within 20 miles and it is one of the top solar areas in the US. there is a planed solar plant within 10 miles.
And i believe you could get government grants and research money to help set up a green/green farm there.
Everything is off the shelf equipment and all is needed is money buy the land and to put every thing together. the land should be cheap because its desert land and because the water is now bad. Or so every one thinks

And i have worked with every part of the system over the years.
just never as a unit,

But i would not have any problem putting a system together.

[edit on 15-5-2009 by ANNED]

posted on May, 15 2009 @ 05:56 AM
reply to post by ANNED

Hehe, not to sound all smirky but you should live in the EU.
They grant all kinds of funds when dealing with such issues.
10 million is maybe a stretch, but they would easily grant you a loan that is manageble...


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