Today, I saw something I have been waiting 5 years to see from this article in Science Magazine:
Study says large-scale solar and wind installations in Sahara and Sahel could supply all of Earth’s electricity needs and then some: Extensive renewables development there would raise local nighttime temperatures while increasing rainfall and growth of vegetation, as well as cutting back greenhouse gas emissions—all good things for the region. The entire planet now has a electricity demand of 18 terawatts, but the 3.5 million square miles of the Sahel and Sahara are capable of generating 79 terawatts. Of course, transmitting that electricity everywhere in the world is another matter. But massive solar and wind development in the region could power desalination plants along the coast and supply electricity to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Meanwhile, it would bring economic and environmental benefits to the sparsely populated Sahel, one of the poorest regions of the world.
The reason why this article stands out to me is because in 2013 after living through Colorado’s historic flood, deemed by some to be a once in a 1,000 year event, I wrote an abstract on this subject called ‘Salvation Lakes’ . The basic premise : Water is being released from Glaciers and heat is increasing, so the consequence would be more intense storms, floods and instability.
We could pro-actively re-create ancient Lakes through Concentrated Solar powered and wind powered desalination plants. Lake Sahara in Africa, Lake Mungo in Australia, Lake Mojave in the U.S.
and on and on, there by evening out Sea Level rise.
Without further ado, here are some excerpts from Salvation Lakes.
This concept is one that holds that we humans use our technology to change the face of the planet to make it more suitable for us. There are many kinds of Geo-Engineering, from damming rivers to building dikes to deforestation and pumping huge amounts of oil out of the Earth and burning it into our atmosphere.
Yet there is a useful way we can do this an offset some of the dangers of rapid climate change.
We know that huge sums of Water are being freed from ice and released into our oceans and air, while at the same time the atmosphere is heating up.
Those two combinations make for more and more severe storms, ultimately making coastal and island living near impossible. In addition to this, we are seeing that even inland areas will be at risk for inundation from massive rain storms as well.
And there are also the weather extremes. Each year we are seeing record heat, record drought, record rain, record storms in the same areas,indicating climate instability.
The heat is causing too much water to enter the atmosphere, and the Earth’s weather patterns are distributing that water back onto the mainlands and swamping the islands and coastlines.
We must redistribute that water through technology, instead of letting Mother Nature do it through more and more fierce typhoons, hurricanes and rainstorms.
How do we do this?
Fortunately,the technology already exists with us and has the potential to bolster low fresh water reserves around the World.
Through technology, we have had the ability to create freshwater from Saltwater through desalination plants which are in use in several countries.
They,however, have typically been powered by coal.
Now however, through the usage of Concentrated Solar Power Plants – we can create rivers and lakes in places that are now deserts.
Living in the desert comes with major advantages and disadvantages — excess solar power and not enough water,to be more specific. Now IBM and Saudi Arabia’s KingAbdulaziz City for Science and Technology are teaming up to solve the water problem with solar-powered desalination technology. Eventually, the two organizations hope to construct a desalination plant in Al Khafji, Saudi Arabia that can harness sunlight to generate 7.9 million gallons of water daily — enough for100,000 people. According to Chandrasekhar (Spike) Narayan, who leads the Science and Technology Organization at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, “We can conceivably create a river of fresh water in countries that don’t have rivers–water for the masses at reasonable costs”.1
What I would propose is that we use this technology along with Wind Turbines to create several large scale Concentrating Solar-powered Desalination plants – preferably on each of the continents.
1Schwartz,Ariel, “IBM’s New Solar Desalination Tech Could Create Rivers in the Desert” Inhabitat, 4/7/10 http://inhabitat.com/ibm-saudi-researchers-team-up-on-solar-powered-desalination-technology/
Up to 30,000 years ago, this corner of south-eastern Australia was a paradise. Fish swam in deep freshwater lakes, giant versions of kangaroos and flightless birds grazed around the lush surrounding vegetation, and in sheltered camps people lived peaceful lives without want. Perhaps children played, splashing about in the water at the lake’s edge, while adults chatted about the day’s hunt and cooked their evening meal on open fires. Then,16,000 years ago, the lakes dried up and became the arid land of dunes and scrubby bush it is today. Gone are the fish and large mammals that lived there. Only the people, the aboriginal Paakantji,the Mutthi Mutthi and the Ngiyampaa tribes of the region remain. The place is now known as Lake Mungo National Park, a World Heritage Park that holds a very special place in human history 1
Lake Mungo, and for that fact, the entire interior of Australia could be transformed from a Desert to a lush system of rivers and lakes and tropical rain forests.
And the same could be achieved in Africa.
There was there also an ancient ‘great lake’ known as ‘Lake Sahara’
Beneath the sands of the Sahara Desert scientists have discovered evidence of a prehistoric megalake. Formed some 250,000 years ago when the Nile River pushed through a low channel near Wadi Tushka, it flooded the eastern Sahara, creating a lake that at its highest level covered more than 42,000 square miles. 2
2Smithsonian Science, “Ancient megalake discovered beneath Sahara Desert”, December 10,2010
Why are these Desert Lakes so important? For one, we know geologically they have existed in the past. So there-creation of these Lakes is not out of the realm of possibility.Second, places like Africa and Australia have supported rain forests that are now gone. With Climate Change and global warming, we will need to off – set as much pollution and carbon dioxide as possible.
Rain forest feed on Carbon Dioxide, while Deserts do not.
Furthermore, these Rain forests create rain fall loops. Rain forest do not live because of the rain, the rain falls because of the the Rain forest.
The Amazon rain forest is a mystery of many sorts. We’ve heard of the rare and unique flora and fauna of the place, and here’s another intriguing aspect there: the Amazon is self-sufficient in rain as well!
The technique of“cloud seeding” used by rain-starved nations to induce rain is used naturally by the fungi and trees in the Amazon to produce rain.Scientists have discovered that trees and fungi release minute amounts of potassium-rich salt which is the cause of a large amount of rain in the area. Since they deflect light from the sun, it helps in cooling the Earth too.1
Our Rain forest – with its symbiotic bio-system instinctively knows how to interact with the Earth’s atmosphere to create more rainfall.
1Ecology, “How the Amazon Creates it’s own Rain” 9/24/2012
What this means is that over the course of a few decades, massive lakes could be
geo-engineered to offset the worst effects of Sea-level rise, thus saving low lying areas and peoples from the loss of their homelands.
Furthermore, this would also mitigate the natural cycle of the Atmosphere’s need to displace heat and moisture through Hurricanes, Typhoons and Tornadoes.
(This was the main conclusion of ‘Salvation Lakes’ — stopping runaway sea level rise and mitigating storms and flooding)
An important side note : In 2015 at the Indigenous Language conference in Japan, a study of Oral traditions of Aboriginal Australia determined that the Aborigines had correct knowledge of a massive sea level rise event that would have occurred over 10,000 years ago.
Those from the Narrangga people of Yorke Peninsula recall the time when there was no Spencer Gulf, only “marshy country reaching into the interior” lying just above the ocean surface and dotted with “freshwater lagoons” where birds and other animals flocked.
One day the sea came in, perhaps through the breaching of a natural barrier, and the area has since been submerged. If these stories refer to flooding across the outermost lip of Spencer Gulf, which today lies around 50 metres below present sea level, then they may have originated 12,000 years ago. Even if they refer to inundation of the central part of the Gulf, they are likely to be more than 9,000 years old.
We are at a point historically where Islanders are developing new oral traditions today about leaving their disappearing islands.
I have spoken to the Carteret people, who now live on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. They have lost their island home in our lifetime, in this century. They are the canary in the coal mine.
Losing islands to sea level rise is the first warning about our own coast lines. And as we have seen in the past decade, our Hurricanes have all started becoming ‘super’ storms. Sandy, Mitchell, Maria, each new Hurricane seems to break records for damage and flooding.
I hope the idea of Solar and Wind powered desalination plants does not remain an abstract in a Scientific journal or magazine, but will actually gain traction. I have hope. It seems almost overnight, banning plastic straws has gone from a fringe idea to mainstream with many major companies doing away with plastic straws.
Now if we can get ideas like re-creating ancient lakes through current technology, we can change the outcome for our people, our Planet. And there is also the added bonus of providing clean drinking water to areas currently in a desert state — and providing fresh water to people everywhere.