Thursday, October 20, 2016

Making the desert bloom

well, not really.

From AlJ: growing veggies in the desert in a greenhouse with sea water and solar power in Australia:

Sundrop Farms explained its sustainable growing methods. "Tomatoes are grown hydroponically in coconut coir, eliminating the need for soil. 
 "Our concentrated solar tower produces both heat and electricity to maintain the perfect conditions inside the greenhouses to help the plants grow. This heat is also used to de-salinate one million litres of seawater a day; the fresh water produced is used to water the plants and cool the greenhouses."

the story has a lot of implications for the Middle East, as this AlJ story on solar power in the Gulf region discusses. 

For the Gulf's solar industry, 2013 was a year of firsts: In addition to the opening of Abu Dhabi's Shams 1 plant, Dubai's first solar power plant became operational, and Kuwait and Oman decided to build their first as well.
In Saudi Arabia, one energy analyst found the cost of generating electricity from solar there had become as cheap as generating electricity from oil-fired power plants.

Saudi's solar goals appear to be the most gung-ho in the region: The kingdom has announced that it plans to throw down $109bn on solar energy and get one-third of its power from the sun by 2032. 
probably too ambitious, but who knows.

The flat discussion in US papers about Islam and the Arab world tends to be "Islam is a religion of peace" vs "it's the jihad stupid", but of course, the history of the area (and the religion of Islam) is a lot more nuanced.

How many Americans are aware that there is an ancient history of irrigation and trade in the area?.

from LiveScience 
The first long-distance trade occurred between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley in Pakistan around 3000 BC, historians believe. Long-distance trade in these early times was limited almost exclusively to luxury goods like spices, textiles and precious metals. Cities that were rich in these commodities became financially rich, too, satiating the appetites of other surrounding regions for jewelry, fancy robes and imported delicacies.
In other words, the Arabs were traders and farmers as far back as 3000 BC. article on 5200 year old irrigation works found in Yemen.

Wikipedia article about Saudi irrigation projects.

I have read that they are worried the deep aquaphors might be depleted in the future so are investing in desalinization projects.

the Wikipedia article notes that they are investing in agricultural land overseas... Hmmm... so is China.

This doesn't bother me that much, since the western "Greens" and do gooders for years prevented Africans from using modern green agriculture, and now are pushing African countries to avoid modern agricultural techniques, saying GM food is a no no...

even the green Pope is under the delusion we shouldn't use GM foods... the alternative of course is pesticides and fertilizer, or just let folks starve... and some GM food like golden rice could prevent thousands of cases of blindness, but never mind.

no, I support the green movement against pollution and safety, and we grow organic rice, but I don't see this as an "either or" problem, but instead promote "the more the merrier"... as for the Pope and UN's most recent jihads against airconditioning: Well, the modern world needs productivity, so unless you want everyone to move to Siberia or Calgary, I suggest that eliminating it will cause more problems than it is costing.

the dirty little secret is that technology, not going back to the stone age, might be a good alternative to the global warming hysteria.

Related article from SciAmerican on Israel's advances in desalinization.

“The Middle East is drying up,” says Osnat Gillor, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute who studies the use of recycled wastewater on crops. “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.”
and yes, when they say "climate change" is the cause of the terrible civil war in Syria, they are partly correct (read the whole article that mentions why).
That water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but Bar-Zeev believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too — and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause. Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge, through joint ventures,” he says. “And one of those ventures is desalination.
This article on the Zuckerman center for water research at the Ben Gurion University of Negev

and I found this interesting: A Dentist and his wife, both of whom feld Germany in the 1930's, donated 400 million for the research. How did a dentist get that rich? He was an early investor with Warren Buffet...

and of course that huge natural gas field off the coast of Israel is another game changer, but that's another story for another day.

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