In 2050 about 9.3 billion people will share our planet. Already today the world is facing intertwined challenges of food, water and energy security, coupled with climate change, desertification and shrinking forests. But, none of these challenges are without solutions.
Considerable parts of what are now considered desert areas were formerly vegetated. The army of Julius Caesar conquered much of the African territory north of the Sahara, turning forests into farmland. For some 200 years North Africa supplied around two-thirds of Rome’s total grain supply. This resulted in deforestation, increased salinity in the soil and loss of minerals.
In the same way that the extractive use of resources has contributed to the loss of natural vegetation, The Sahara Forest Project proposes to use restorative practices to establish vegetation in arid areas and reverse the trend of desertification. This process of restorative growth will be catalyzed by combining already existing and proven environmental technologies, such as the evaporation of saltwater to create cooling and distilled fresh water (i.e. in a saltwater cooled greenhouse) and solar thermal energy technologies. The technological combination in The Sahara Forest Project is designed to utilize what we have enough of to produce what we need more of, using deserts, saltwater and CO2 to produce food, freshwater and energy.
The Sahara Forest Project proposes to establish groups of interconnected economic activities in different low lying desert areas around the world. The simple core of the concept is an infrastructure for bringing saltwater inland.