World Rainforest Movement

Planting trees in the deserts

A team of biologists and climate modellers at NASA have come up with a very “practical” alternative to phasing out fossil fuels. Their plan is to plant massive blocks of fast growing trees –for example eucalyptus- in the deserts of the Sahara and Australian outback. Lack of water? No problem! The trees would be watered by seawater treated by a string of coastal desalination plants and channelled through a vast irrigation network. Easy.

Such plan would of course destroy deserts, which are not wastelands but rich and diverse ecosystems in their own right. It completly disregards the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena in the subtle web of life and doesn’t even question about where, when and how the impacts of this massive change would be felt.

The acknowledged costs of the scheme are enormous -$1.9 trillion a year. Yet, the inventors consider “it is the most promising and practical (!) option in terms of current technology to solve the biggest parts of the problem.”

They are aware that there are some drawbacks, but say that “If sacrifices are required to stem global warming, the almost non-existent ecosystems of the central Sahara and the outback seem like reasonable candidates compared to the alternatives.” If the idea is so “practical”, why don’t they sacrifice “reasonable candidates” such as the abundant US deserts, instead of those in Africa and Australia? As Alice would say: climate solutions are getting “curiouser and curiouser”.

Information source: Forests in the desert: the answer to climate change?, David Adam,