One might think that a prominent advocate of technolological solutions to problems would suggest that maybe some of the brilliant inventors he promotes could devote at least some of their time to thinking up new and more effective methods of birth control instead of just taking it for granted that population will increase and nothing can be done about it except to grow more food for the ever-increasing hordes and find someplace else to stash them. But Jerry shows little interest in slowing the growth of population. His solution, aside from emmigration to other planets, is using more land on this planet for farming.
Now, if Jerry wants to emmigrate to some other planet, that is fine with me. I will even buy him a one-way ticket. But the idea of "restoring deserts" as a solution to the problem of too many people on this planet is absurd.
Presumably, Jerry does not mean to restore the desert and then keep it preserved as a wilderness area. He obviously means that it would then be used as farmland to grow food for the surplus human population. This shows an incredible ignorance of population dynamics, since population will always continue to grow up to the limits of available food supply, and also of ecology, agriculture, soil science, and several other fields of study that would need to be involved in such a project.
The ecological footprint of the human species on this planet involves far more than food supply; there are many other services provided by the natural life-support systems of the earth that are essential to human life and cannot be eliminated without making human life impossible. And if even more stress is placed on those essential life-support systems by consuming even more land in growing food, the end result will be mass die-off by some means other than simple starvation. The need for the reprocessing of air by plant life is one well-known example of a service provided by the biosphere. There are many others.
About one third of the land surface of this planet is drylands, either desert or semi-desert. About half of that dryland area, including most of the semi-desert, has become desertified in the last 2,000 years or so because of human, mainly agricultural, activity. Livestock grazing, deforestation, and impounding or dirverting waterways for irrigation has been the main cause of most of the desertification in the past few thousand years.
If the climate regime were to be restored to what it was before the desertification began, that would only be the beginning of the long job of restoration of the desert. Before the job was finished, a long series of successional stages would have to be gone through, and none of them could be shortened or skipped.
The profussion of vegetation that springs up in a desert after a rain consists of hardy pioneer species that can grow in wet sand, but they only exist for the time they need to prepare the soil for the next stage of restoration. After there is a network of roots to hold the soil to prevent erosion, and some organic matter has been added to the soil to provide essential fertilizer for them, the next stage of plants will gradually take over from the first-stage growth. The succesive stages will each contribute their portion until the climax ecosystem of the area is reached.
Concurrently with the succeeding stages of plant life development, earthworms would need to spread out and recolonize their
former range. There are literally thousands of different species of earthworms, each adapted to a specific range of climate, soil type, plant types, etc., and their processing of the soil is vital to determing the type of vegetation that will eventually grow there. The process cannot be hurried. It would take years, possibly centuries, of processing by earthworms before the soil was ready to support a growth of plant life of the type it had supported before becoming desert.
Far from being fallow land, needing only water to become fertile farmland, many of the dryland areas of the world are desertified BECAUSE of agriculture. To suggest that MORE agriculture is a solution to a problem CAUSED by agriculture means ignoring history.
If water were simply added to a desert region in some impoverished third-world country, the farmers there would need a huge infusion of cash aid from the United States and other first-world countries to buy the petroleum-based fertilizers they would need to add to the desert sands to grow anything. They would need aid to buy tractors to plow the ground
if they were to raise crops without waiting for the slow, natural spread of earthworms to aerate the soil and mix it with organic matter. They would then have the problem of salinization of the soil, which usually happens when desert soils are irrigated.
Anyone who imagines merely adding water would turn a desert into a breadbasket obviously knows nothing of farming. Or of the several scientific disciplines such as soil chemistry which would need to be involved in such an ill-advised project, And since Jerry has recently advocated promiscuous, indiscriminate, random, and unco-ordinated cloudbusting by untrained operators as a solution to a drought, it is reasonable to suspect he has cloudbusting in mind when he advocates "restoring deserts".
There have already been several attempts made to use cloudbusters to "restore deserts". All of them have caused disasters. James DeMeo once did rainmaking in Arizona at the wrong time of year, devastating desert wildlife that needs the usual dry season for breeding and raising their young. He also did a summer-long project in Arizona that increased the usual summer rainfall to 500% of normal. Ask any farmer what 5 times normal rainfall would do to his crops. Most desert plants swell up and burst if they get twice normal rainfall.
DeMeo also did a "desert greening" project in Eritria, East Africa for several years. His success in "greening the desert" in Eritria resulted in floods in normally dry Northern Kenya, followed by 20,000 deaths from insect-bourne diseases carried by the extra insects that proliferated in all the standing water left by the floods he caused.
There is also a cloudbusting project that has been underway for several years in Algeria to "green the desert". This project has devastated local ecosystems and moved the stagnant, hot, dry air mass that normally sits over North Africa up to Europe, causing devastating heat waves in Europe and Russia on several ocassions. The people doing this insane project think they can get rid of residual radioactivity from French nuclear bomb tests in Algeria in the 60s by burning cow dung in a Hindu ritual, and since they believe they are working under divine direction directly from God, they will not listen to any advice from a mere ecologist.
Reich was raised on a farm. He knew full well that simply adding rain to a desert would be counter-productive. That is why, in his report on his expedition to Arizona, in 1955, he wrote, " It was never the goal of this expedition to make rain over desert lands. Rain, if it could have been obtained, would have drowned the developing proto-vegetation and prevented the discoveries made of how to revive a land that has been a desert for thousands of
Yet despite this perfectly clear statement, many people who have read that report still read it as a report of a "rainmaking expedition" that "made rain" in the desert. And some of them advocte repetition of this "rainmaking project". One can only wonder if they bring the same reading skills to the rest of their education.