Re: Making Deserts Bloom? (was Re: Global Climate Manipulat

Eugene Leitl (
Thu, 21 Nov 1996 15:17:21 +0100 (MET)

On Tue, 19 Nov 1996, Michael Butler wrote:

> [...]
> Yeah, but--
> Cow Hampshire has the hydrology and climate that would let hay work.
> Plus, it's not surrounded by more desert. What's your yearly rainfall?
> There is no hay in most deserts; you'd have to truck *it* in too. Not
> what whas originally specified. :) The in-situ studies in Israel and
> Egypt indicate that it's impractical with available tech.
> Now, if you moved the sand to US Midwest first... :) But I seem to
> recall that desert sand is a different *shape*, too, which might or
> might not complicate matters.

What kind of deserts does the U.S. have, btw? Chile-type, Sahara-type,
Gobi(ack!)-type? Is there a consensus, that these aride habitats should
be substituted with something with more biomass/m^2 throughput?

> Some people have gotten results just *paving* the desert and poking
> holes in it. You plant things that can live in sandy soil, and the
> asphalt cover reduces moisture loss--you trickle-irrigate and voila.

Current mainstream focuses on seawater desalination (reverse osmosis),
together with an advanced irrigation technique to contain progressive
soil salination. It would be interesting to combine this approach with
enhanced surface shading/reflection by photovoltaics panels, using solar
power to desalinate, while planting crops in the panels' shadows.

What I quite never understood, why virtually nobody is using solar stills,
long blackened trenches filled with slowly flowing seawater, covered with
clear plastic planes (for condensation)? It has the additinal merit of
producing destilled water, retaining most of the muck (and seawater nowadays
carries a lot of filth). Of course, destillation is no barrier for methyl
mercury & Co...

> Of course, Chris is probably talking about "magically" importing
> gigatonnes of waste to the entire desert all at once....

I wonder what Lyeth ("Dune" desert ecologist) might have said to that


> Mike