There are over 5.7 million square miles of hot desert in the world. Russia - at 6.6 million square miles - is the only nation that occupies more space.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could do something with them, instead of standing on the sidelines as the global rate of desertification continues to increase?
A partnership between Seawater Greenhouse Ltd, Exploration Architecture, Max Fordham Consulting Engineers, and The Bellona Foundation, have asked the question, "How shall we produce food for 9.5 billion people, while at the same time vastly increasing the use of biomass for energy, in a world characterized by dwindling water resources, increased land degradation and threats from global warming?"
Their answer is the Sahara Forest Project - a proposal that aims to combine technologies like concentrated solar power, seawater greenhouses, and cultivation of algae, to produce fresh water, food and renewable energy in places where all of these things are currently scarce - such as the Sahara.
Their first goal has been to develop a Demonstration Center, and that appears to be in the works, with a recent announcement that the Norwegian government will help fund a demonstration machine on a 50-acre site in Aqaba, Jordan. This first step, which should cost in excess of $100 million, will incorporate a 10-megawatt solar power plant, a high-tech greenhouse, and a desalination system.
Who knows? If it works, we may all be able to breathe a little easier. Exploration Architecture Director, Michael Pawlyn, thinks so: this is what he has to say about it all.