Greening Australia's Desert

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by ang, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. ang

    ang New Member

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    Could you green the Australian desert?

    How long would it take – 1000 years, quicker?

    I've read that you could support 8 people per acre of land. There's 1.8 billion acres in Australia - so we could probably have the whole world's population right now - live in Australia.

    That might be an over kill.

    But could you green the desert? Could Lake Eyre become a fresh water? Obviously you don't need to right now - but you could start planning it.

    Does it rain more when you green the desert? Do the plants attract more rain?

    So i know you would start off with contours and catchments – and would it deplete the salt levels - with mulch and compost.

    How would it change the current relationship with the earth and the atmosphere? Surely a large project like that would completely change the weather relationships of inner australia?

    I couldn’t see greening the desert as a bad thing. It’s more like a productive thing. It’s a better, easier alternative than colonising Mars – which a lot of nerds – wish to do. It's not like the desert animals couldn't survive if you planted a trillion fruit trees across australia.

    How much would it cost – depends how quickly you wanted to do it? But initially you'd just keep doing small projects - which proved it worked.

    I need to know more about permaculture – because then i could work out the mathematics behind this idea.


    We need to stop the urban sprawl - because it just takes over mono-agricultural land - and you end up with 40 people living on each acre.
     
  2. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    With Water and Sunlight you can green pretty much anything... There's plenty of sunlight... Get the water there and your on a winner.
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day ang

    Welcome to the PRI Forum.

    In the short, yes.

    Good luck with your project, I look forward to following your progress. Please come back often and let us know how you get on.

    Cheerio, Markos.

    PS: Considering that 90% of arid Australia is managed by Indigenous Australians (either as sole owners, or in joint partnership with pastoralists), perhaps it would be wise to first seek their input into your project?
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Hey :) I saw this question on the PRI blog. Welcome to the forum, I was thinking about asking about this after I saw it on the blog.

    I have some questions:

    How much of Australia's desert is considered native ecosystem? i.e. how much is in a similar state to what it was 500 years ago? What do we know about native deserts in Australia historically?

    Like Markos, I'd like to know how much of the land is already in use and by whom.

    Australia has yet to make up for the last time it declared the land terra nullius. Do existing land users, human and non-human have any rights in this regard?

    Where would the desert animals live that can't live in a forest or human habitat?

    Does the land/ecosystem itself have an rights or is it just there for human use?

    Where will people live once Australia is full?

    ;-)
     
  5. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    I need to learn about this wild rivers law. And i should pay more attention to Noel Pearson.

    However the contribution i wanted to make to this thread was that it is possible to turn a desert back into arable land. I spent several months in the negev desert on an avocardo farm/kibbutz. This kibbutz was the place where drip irrigation was invented and they had the factory. The man who invented the system developed it on a row of gum trees. I saw them still outside growing in the desert, no longer with any irrigation at all. Of course it did rain out there during the winter and the whole negev received more rain than what i imagine the simpson gets. I don't know where their water supply came from. I think it might have been the desalination plant somewhere but the kibbutz was not so far away from the supply so it was doable.

    The issue above is water. Australian desert is much too far away from the water. It would need some massive infrastructure project to make the water, catch the water, store the water or bring the water. I don't think anyone has come up with a feasible plan so far. Just think about how much laughter the WA enthusiasts have receieved iwth their projects proposal to divert water from the north to the south. Just think of the laughter received about other water divertiing systems. If only people had laughed more at Premier Bob's desalination plant in Sydney cause that is a dumb idea too. He shoulda been building public trains networks not desalination plants.

    But certainly its true that cattle and sheep farming have lent considerable deterioration of australia's marginal bush land. Wheat farming and other farming has also helped no doubt. All over the country old farming practices have worsened erosion. And the rivers are running dry except after heavy rain.

    Dream on OP but perhaps the best thing you can do is keep on learning and maybe just get your own patch of desert to make a go of. I would suggest that if it was easy to do, it would have been done by now.
     
  6. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Given that Australia is anticipated to become increasingly arid with climate change, I'd say that H2O will be the issue. And with peak oil, trucking it in won't be real sustainable....
     
  7. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    You could start at the outside and work in (start in the places that have water and transport the water via ecosystems that hold water). But I'm still not clear why you would want to do this.

    I'm assuming not all the land in Australia considered desert is the same or has the same rainfall. Maybe it would be useful to break it down a bit and be more specific.


    Binghy, I read your links but I don't understand what you mean by Wasted Society or who you were referring to. Can you please clarify?
     
  8. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    bingy.
    You don't have a strong factual basis for those statements. Yes, I know you are are climate change skeptic / denier. Go and look at all of the coal being dug up and tell me it's not having some sort of effect. Yes GO AND LOOK don't sit there and argue.
    There are MOUNTAINS of the stuff being dug up and burnt.

    Back onto the thread topic. Is it worth, instead increasing the productivity of our vast SEMI arid lands that are already farmed relatively intensively?
     
  9. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Reclaiming land that has been desertified by human efforts would be where I would start. Maybe desert should be allowed to be desert?
     
  10. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I was thinking that too. I just don't know how much of the Australian desert fits in which category ;-)
     
  11. .

    If yer read ( and believe ) Tim Flannery, apparently Oz used to be fairly covered in rain forest.





    .
     
  12. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Yeah, I reckon do a proper job of looking after the land we already use. Knock down a few of those big cities that are covering the most fertile land on the continent, bulldoze the chain stores, dismantle the centralised government, etc. etc. 'Cause lets face it, if the same people were in charge of greening the desert as are in charge of the rest of the shambles, it just wouldn't work.

    To me it would be the same thing as colonising Mars, just as lazy and short sighted. Before we do anything else we really just need to get our $hit together as a species.
     
  13. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    ..And everything sticks like a broken record... everything sticks like a broken record... everything sticks like a broken record... everything sticks like a broken record...

    *YAWN*
     
  14. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    no answer, I see.

    There is no basis for your arguments, and suggesting "an extra does of CO2" is unecessarily trolling
     
  15. aikidesigns

    aikidesigns Junior Member

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    Putting aside ecological questions of whether or not greening the desert is even desirable, I think that the issue of Terra Nullius is a pertinent one.
    Most people assume that "desert" means empty, wasted land. Certainly many deserts have been created or extended by people - and this probably includes vast areas of Australia and other arid lands (yes read Flannery, but with a critical mind as with everything) - but at least some will have existed before humans began to have a major impact (think Antarctica - a cold desert). Either way deserts are far from empty of life and people have lived in most of the old ones for so long that in most cases it is next to impossible to determine the relative impacts of management and climate. The palaeontological picture is confounded by interrelationships between the two.
    On the one hand I agree with Binghy's sentiment that affluent city-dwellers have a ludicrously biased view of "wilderness" (a problematic concept) and tend to imagine that it is empty and unmanaged. This is a dangerous assumption and one which is at the heart of many conflicts between indigenous people and conservation organisations such as the Wilderness Society. In the U.S. where National Parks where invented, the forcible removal and/or extermination of the indigenous population allowed this idea of "empty" land (c.f. Terra Nullius in Oz) to take root in the national consciousness, and is daily reinforced by popular culture and the mass media. In fact there is very little of the earth's surface (land OR water) which has not been managed in some way by humans for thousands of years, and few ecosystems which have not suffered at the hands of humans, indigenous or otherwise.
    On the other hand it is pure fantasy to think that mainstream (white) culture and its notions of development and land-management have had no impact on traditional management regimes. They have been seriously compromised almost everywhere. Where indigenous cultures are still relatively untouched by modern society there is no doubt that the impacts of management are far lower than everywhere else, and a great deal of doubt in my mind that intervention by remote (largely white) interests, whether government or NGOs, will lead to lower impacts. But white notions of development are all-pervasive and have changed the nature of indigenous management everywhere in more-or-less significant ways. (think "traditional" hunts using modern tools such as motor boats/vehicles and firearms)
    This is not to say that indigenous leaders like Noel Pearson are necessarily getting ready to cash in and trash the land like the white man has so often done in the past, but it is just reverse racism to assume that some men and women are less prone to greed and mismanagement just because they are black. The earth's ecosystems belong to all peoples (and non-humans too!), not just to traditional owners or their usurpers. They should be managed by an informed consensus of all peoples for the benefit of all lifeforms and not gratuitously turned into gardens or orchards just because we can do so.
    (Whew!)
    Having said all that - probably the quickest way of greening inland Australia would be a giant engineering project to bring seawater from the Great Australian Bight into the low-lying salt lakes such as Bundoo Bunta (Eyre). The (re)creation of such an inland sea would have massive impacts on rainfall patterns and other environmental variables and probably result in the complete restructuring of existing ecosystems. I didn't say it would be desirable - just doable =P
    Who knows? Enough global warming might even do it for us...
     
  16. Solaris

    Solaris Junior Member

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    I wrote an article on greening Australia to alter climate. Email me and I will send it to you. [email protected]
    You gotta start with the river systems, and build back up to the Mountain ranges. Something has got to be done...the continent is dying.
     
  17. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Oi! You lot! Stop derailing the thread. All of you ;-P
     
  18. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Perhaps start with feeding the murray with recycled water and look at using the murray as a source to move west. Feeding the water supply will be the key to sustainable greening of Australia's deserts.
     
  19. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Eric, or any of the other mods - can you please separate out the global warming posts into a separate thread? (sorry, I have no idea how much work that is). The original thread was interesting but is getting lost. I'm on the verge of stopping reading it.
     
  20. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    I think that was a good call, Pebble. I think I managed to move the majority... hopefully without distorting the rest of the thread.
     

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