As the people wielding political and economic power continue to argue about whether or not climate change is man’s doing; or is it undoing? People and biodiversity on the ground continue to suffer. Africa is home to the biggest desert in the world, the Sahara desert. It covers a good chunk of North Africa from the west coast in Senegal to the east coast of Egypt.
The Sahara desert region is one of the less populated regions in Africa with the few people living in the desert experiencing severe water shortage and lack of enough food. Though there is a comparatively large population of people living in the Sahel belt. A semi-arid belt just below the Sahara stretching from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east.
The Sahel belt has been classified as one of the poorest places on earth. It is also experiencing rapidly growing populations, something that is putting a stretch on the area’s semi-arid conditions with its limited food and water supply.
In 2017, the area experienced one of the most severe droughts in history leading to over five million people across six countries in dire need of food aid and children at great risk of death from malnutrition. It was a humanitarian catastrophe
There is no doubt that the Sahara is growing like cancer, slowly eating away arable land from the south and driving more people south-bounds in search of food and water. There have been numerous efforts to stop its growth, with some being as ambitious as construction ‘The Great Green Wall of Africa,’ which is essentially a one-kilometer-wide of human-planted forest stretching from the western shores in Senegal to the eastern shores in Sudan. More on that on our earlier article here.
According to a new paper published last week in the Sciencemagazine, large-scale wind and solar farms could double the rainfall in the Sahara desert. This revelations described as ‘shocking’ to the scientists came by as a result of a simulated model made up of windmills and solar panels.
The scientists behind the simulation discovered that through changes in air patterns and surface temperature, moisture over the Sahara will rise and condense into rainfall. The rain will then boosts plant growth, and support a wide diversity of animals including humans in the region.
“We were expecting increases in rainfall and vegetation, but once we ran our climate model and we saw how large these increases are, we were quite shocked,” Safa Motesharrei, a scientist at the University of Maryland, told Reuters.
Other than the massive amount of money required to deploy wind and solar farms across the Sahara. The project faces several challenges, the obvious being the displacement and compensation of the indigenous people living in some of the regions. There is also the problem of hostile territories where militant groups are in-charge. For such reasons, it will be unrealistic to have such a project done anytime soon.
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