A pioneering Dutch land engineer wants to turn the Sinai Desert into the Sinai Forest, using techniques demonstrated on a large scale in China.
Theorizing that since it has been confirmed that even primitive human activity can permanently degrade a landscape, with effort it should be perfectly plausible to return a landscape to a greener, more watered state as well.
Green gold, a documentary covering the transformation of the dry and arid deserts of China’s Loess Plateau into green, productive farmland, has a former Dutch morphologist and dredger, whose resume includes working on the man-made islands of Dubai, thinking he might do the same in the biblical land of Sinai, where Egypt meets Asia.
While working as a dredging specialist, Ties Van der Hoeven, founder of Holistic Engineering from The Weather Makers, He was contacted by Egyptian colleagues who asked if it was possible to try to dredge Lake Bardawil on the Sinai Peninsula and return it to a normal state. Where once the waters reached 20-40 meters, the lake had become so filled with sediment that it was not much deeper than a community diving pool.
In conducting the survey for the project, Van der Hoeven realized that the bottom of the lake was essentially acting as a sewer for soil runoff from the entire peninsula for thousands of years. This runoff is evidence of an emerging scientific theory that Sinai, and indeed all of North Africa, was green at one point, with Van der Hoeven uncovering records from ancient monasteries that count exports of wood and rock paintings of trees and grass.
While the region’s unique relationship to solar weather patterns already means that the Sahara you don’t need a single reason Because it became the world’s largest hot desert, the ancient human herders of North Africa could have altered the delicate vegetative cover that was critical to keeping the soil alive and the landscape irrigated, “deserting” the area much faster.
One of Van der Hoeven’s colleagues is Professor Millán, a 79-year-old Spanish meteorologist whose lifelong job has been to investigate the change in weather patterns off the Iberian coast and its relationship to the loss of wetlands.
Millán, and in fact the director of Green Gold, with whom Van der Hoeven also collaborates, independently reached the same conclusion about the impact of the manipulation of the landscape by humans. Essentially, if you cut down trees and degrade the ecosystem, the rains will eventually disappear, as vegetation is necessary to retain water on the ground and return it to the sky.
“Water begets water, soil is the uterus, vegetation is the midwife,” says Millán’s simple maxim, according to The Guardian.
Rain in the desert
So with Sinai, Van der Hoeven aims to start with the restoration of the water cycle. After the lake, he wants to work for return the surrounding area to wetlands to ensure that the landscape can retain at least some water.
They then want to climb to the heights, 700 meters (2,100 feet) above sea level, where mist collectors It can be used to collect moisture that condenses at high altitudes.
Next, using the billions of tons of sediment from Lake Bardawil, terraces can be built for agriculture where steep hills and valleys prevent it. The sediment also contains a large amount of organic material and can be used, in certain cases, to re-fertilize the desolate land as long as the growth is tolerant to salt.
Then a unique type of technology, a large water drum turned into a kind of “nursery”, would be deployed in the Sinai ecosystem under the cover of greenhouses. Containing what looks like a pond, they would also use the lake’s sediment, while growing plants around it as the water component slowly evaporates, leaving the salt, dripping onto the sand for days on end.
After a while, the drums can be moved to a new location after the area becomes a stable growing environment. The greening process would allow more localized moisture to enter the atmosphere, resulting in more rain for the region.
“If the vegetation comes back, it increases the cover, reduces the temperature, reduces the solar reflection, it begins to create a stable climate,” Van der Hoeven tells The Guardian. “If we want to do something about global warming, we have to do something about deserts.”
Deserts act like the color white in summer – they reflect heat, unfortunately back into the atmosphere. Overgrown areas use that heat to evaporate water and create clouds and rain.
The peninsula’s unique geological location means that it acts as a rain funnel, funneling moist air from the Mediterranean into the Indian Ocean. Instead, a wetter, greener Sinai would absorb and trap some of that moisture, distributing it as rain across the Middle East and Africa.
Not only by bringing blessings to the farmers of the ancient and sacred Sinai Peninsula, The Weather Makers seek to improve the prospects for the entire region.
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