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Desert Reclamation the Easy Way
Civilization has marched across the globe and left a desert in its footprints. --Who wrote this please?
How is this for a simple plan?
- Acquire the use of one or more slightly out of date bomber aircraft and add equipment (preferably removable) to drop the various things that will need dropping.
- Find an area that human activity has turned into a desert, or any deforested area. This should not be difficult to do. Since the area was not always a desert it will probably have what is required to grow plant life again.
- Identify as many grass and small plant species as possible that most likely lived here before, possibly by examining surrounding areas for native plants. Be careful to exclude any invasive or weed species. Get seed for these and multiply them up in greenhouses or appropriately located fields. Try for genetic diversity within each species to increase pest and disease resistance. The more species included in the mix the thicker the eventual vegetation will be. Insect life may be needed too. The plants will help stabilize the soil against wind and other kinds of erosion.
- Broadcast the seed from the aircraft, possibly starting with ground surrounding non-desert areas and working outwards.
- If tree or bush species used to grow in the area as well then broadcast these. Note that a seedling with a bundle of soil at the bottom and maybe even some kind of a point to stick into the earth might just make a pretty good dart that is likely to land right side up. Alternatively tree seeds could be fired into the soil to an appropriate depth by using an air cannon or something similar.
This would result in the benefit of a one time reduction in atmospheric CO2 as more carbon is tied up in living plant life, and once a healthy ecosystem is re-established the land can be used for such things as ethical forestry, animal grazing, tourism or renewable energy as long as we are careful to not reverse all our hard work. Just leaving it as wild animal habitat is a pretty good use too. If trees, crops or animals are removed from the land it would be necessary to replace the nutrients they contain, otherwise this would just be mining the land for nutrients and soil depletion would eventually occur.
Projects like this could be started in different areas as a business, charity, or non-profit venture. Any money earned by the above means could be used to buy more land, if publicly owned land is not being used, and cover the costs of reclaiming it, possibly making it a self sustaining venture.
Now I know things might not be quite this simple. Wind barriers may be needed to prevent the advance of sand or dust that would otherwise overrun our plants and we would need to decide where we want it to be dropped. There may be reasons why it is difficult to get things to grow such as nutrient depletion. We may need to drop additional items such as initial water, dew collectors (biodegradable please), micro-organisms, or a bit of ground cover to help things along. We might actually need to do things on the ground (or not if we are clever.) All told though, where this is doable, it is probably worth doing. What do you think?