Desert recovery

I?know this information originally come you on paper (Think Magazine), a wood paper product, and our recycled content is only about 60% of the recycled paper we use, but the message is important enough, and the problem big enough, that we must share the following, with you, our loyal readers who would never even dream of throwing this in the trash, and instead will keep your collection in hermetically sealed archival containers.

But here we go anyway:

Simply, the four biggest ecological/environmental problems in our world are:

1. Global Warming

2. Rapidly Increasing Desertification

3. Rising Groundwater levels in the Western World

4. Pollution of the seas

None of these problems are new. Countless Conferences, Studies and Reports have all concluded the need for urgent action, if the planet is not to suffer environmental change on a catastrophic scale. The only question left is how long it will take us to destroy the planet. The problem, is the problem itself.

It seems so enormous that neither Governments, institutions, nor individuals really believe that any positive steps can be taken. Academics still argue. Energy lobbyist’s fight with ecologists, third world countries demand development.

How the world deals with the problem:

Europe tries to introduce legislation. America tries to trade, hoping that business will find the solution. Years of arguments have followed, with different power bases compromising to get agreements through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Hot Air is now being traded on the Stock Exchange. Measured emissions from a power station in America can be offset against the failure of Soviet Russia to emit pollutants at 1990 levels. Forests are springing up all over America to soak up the pollution from new fossil fuel power stations.

How did we get into this mess?

It’s been proven by ecologist and meteorolist that before there were humans, there were no deserts. Turkey was a land of lakes and forests. Lake Chad covered 135,000 square miles and was 40 metres higher than present. The Sahara was a forest. Sea levels were low enough to allow men to walk from Africa to Sicily and into Europe.

Oak and pine forests once covered half of Scotland, but after centuries of exploitation only 1% of the forests remain. Recent flooding in Germany, China and Central America has been officially blamed on de-forestation. 30% of Honduran rainforest has been lost since 1960. 70% of the poor have no other fuel except firewood. Heavy rains wash away fertile topsoil where there are no trees.

The cause of deserts is the axe. For hundreds of thousands of years, men have cut trees for fuel, shelter, pottery, smelting, and ships. The Mediterranean was the birthplace of sea-borne trade. Wheat, timber, oil, silver, and gold were traded throughout the Mediterranean in ships built by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Greeks.

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Land was cleared of trees for growing wheat, barley and rye. Glazed pots, timber-fired, allowed beer to be brewed and settlements grew as early men domesticated animals and plants.

Timber fuelled furnaces for the smelting of bronze and iron axes. By the time of the prophets, the deserts had been established. All the great civilisations of history, Phoenicia, Egypt, Abyssinia, Troy, Greece, Rome, Persia, have all left deserts in their wake. As a tree is lost, the moisture that it transpired back into the atmosphere is also lost. Downwind, the air is dryer. The Sahara is downwind of the ancient Phoenician Empire.

As each coastal great cedar was cut for ships or temples, the rains got weaker deep in the desert. Moses said; “The proper work of men is the undoing of deserts.”


The importance of wood and woodworkers in the development of human society cannot be underestimated. It is one of the most complex of raw materials, but it can be worked with minimal tools or equipment and is the starting point for so many other crafts and trades.

Fuel, usually wood or charcoal is required for those producing pottery, glass, metal and in salt production, and for food and heat. Almost all craft tools require wooden hafts and handles; wood is required for spinning equipment and looms and for containers and buildings.

Wooden boats need tar distilled from wood to make them watertight, and tree bark produces powerful chemicals for tanning and dying, as well as fibres for ropes and waterproof material for roofing and canoes. Each tree is a water reservoir, holding 75% of its weight, requiring up to 140 gallons per day. A million trees can hold 80 million gallons of water.

The Solution:

The Desert Reclamation Society has been formed to help redress the problem. The oil industry over the last thirty years has developed the super-tanker, transporting oil from the Middle East to Europe at 80 million gallons a load, using sea water as ballast on the return voyage. Venice has been fighting a losing battle with rising water levels.

The oil supertanker unloading at the Venice oil terminal can backload fresh water pumped from the river Po. 80 million gallons of freshwater ballast, can fertilise and irrigate desert lands. We can use water as a by-product for what we are trying to achieve, the reduction of global warming.

As the water evaporates it will cool the overheated air, refertilise the deserts, cut rising water levels in European cities, and lower pollution levels in the seas. On the most marginal lands, in the most impossible environments, against the most appalling odds, it is here proposed the building of a desert city, to fertilise and irrigate deserts using the waste water of European rivers.

Somewhere to start:

The emptiest countries in the world surround the greatest deserts. The population of Mauritania has migrated to the coast in front of the ever-expanding Sahara. Their farms abandoned to the sand, they have turned to fishing the Atlantic. The northern port, constructed for the export of iron ore, anchors a railway line running nearly 1000 miles into the Sahara.

Wastewater from European rivers, transported on the railway line, will begin to reverse the advance of the desert. Iron ore wagons travel back to the mine empty. Back loading the water into the desert will make upgrading of the port and the railway line feasible.

Water collected from the river Po, will be pumped from a super-tanker into a silo in Mauritania, then onto the train to be unloaded at least 50 miles into the desert. Even if all the water leaks out onto the tracks we will have achieved 80 million gallons worth of reduction in global warming. But by unloading the water and planting trees to purify the water we will begin to store the water in plants, allowing them to breathe cool moisture into the desert air.

Smart philosophy:

Throughout men’s history, the natural world of immense complicated relationships between plants, animals and weather has been exploited to provide our civilisation with increasingly complex and sophisticated ways of living in cities. Cities are the most complex objects; deserts are the most simple. Using the downtime of existing operations of oil tankers and railways we will bring the most complex, to the most simple. The centre of civilisation bringing life to the centre of desolation.

A Foundation for the future:

In the 1960’s, the futurist architect Paolo Soleri proposed the following:

“Today’s typical city devotes up to 60% of its land for automobile functions. The roads are functionally one-dimensional deserts, which must be reclaimed to enable radical conservation of land, energy and resources.”

“The future must lie in a combination of architecture and ecology – Arcology. A miniaturised permanent complex city for the future. ” Arcology relies as much as possible on the sun, the wind and other renewable sources of energy so as to reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels.

The Desert Reclamation Society proposes to start a Foundation to build an on-line University City Arcology in the desert in pursuit of Soleri’s ideals. The Foundation will associate with other centres of learning to establish a community re-birthing in the desert to give people the chance of effecting real change in their own life time. This natural re-birth of the desert will attract the best brains of the next generation and will give people a chance of affecting their own future in their own lifetime.

The Desert Reclamation Society vs. Global Warming:

if the state of the world demands a great or hazardous enterprise, let it be undertaken. The Desert Reclamation Society is devoted to planting a forest in the Sahara, this is our mission! [Fertilise and irrigate the deserts of Africa with the wasted fertile river waters of Europe. ]

All Deserts are Man-Made. Greenhouse gases form a blanket around the Earth, trapping in heat that would otherwise be radiated back to space. This causes the Earth’s atmosphere to heat up. If the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase at its current rate, it will rise to double its pre-industrial level during the next century. Heat waves and droughts will become more common, and more intense.

Moses said:

The proper work of men is the undoing of deserts. 74,000 years ago, men were burning deserts into the hearts of America, Africa, Arabia, India, China, and Australia. [before there were men, there were no deserts.]

The Desert Reclamation Society
8 New Houses, Bridford, Devon, EX6 7HL, +01647 253 030, email: [email protected]?or phone +0181 889 7602, (dead link)