Can We Terraform the Sahara to Stop Climate Change?

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Real Engineering : I wouldn't normally push Patreon, but with production quantity and quality going up, every bit helps. If you gain value from the content and want to give back in some way, consider supporting on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/realengineering (edit: discussion point, should I remove comments of climate change deniers, or let my intelligent audience drown them out?)

FutureNow : Sounds easier than terraforming Mars as our planet B.

Connor O'Brien : if it wasnt for hippie fear mongering about anything thats "unnatural" we would have had the grid converted to nuclear by the end of the 80s and real engineering would be doing a video on "would it be possible to warm the earths climate with massive co2 output from fossil fuel use". hippies understand radioactivity as well as they understand gmo or vaccines. climate deniers are just obstinate wanting to stick to a system we developed before we knew the costs but anti nukes are doing the real damage preventing a solution we already have

Phoenixesper1 : You want to create a foreest... that would be equal 50% of the earths total plant mass... with a single species of tree?! Do you have any idea how nightmarish of an idea that is? Have you never heard of the plight of monoculture ecosystem lock out? it would be devastating to the planet. imagine 100 years down the road from the forrest being created... a lush vibrant forest sucking up huge quantities of CO2. Now imagine a plague. A disease, an insect, a fungus, or a new unknown phenominon of evolution, and suddenly all the trees of this monoculture begin dying in droves, billions of trees every month. Now imagine all the billions of trees planted are dead in just 10 years. As this bio mass has absorbed CO2 it has also pumped mass quantites of O2 into the atmosphere, raising it from its current 21% to around 25% O2. Doesn't sound like much but now you have More O2 and a bone dry forest of dead trees spanning a landmass twice the size of the US in both hemispheres. One day... A flash of heat lightning ignites several fires on both continents. And thus begins the greatest disaster to befall our world since the end of the dinosaurs as uncontrolable and fast moving firestorms erupt all over the two continents. Within weeks the smoke has enveloped the earth completely, a mass of green house gasses eqaul to what we have thrown into the atmosphere over 100 years is released in the span of a few months, the fires burn so hot and so wide spread it raises the collective tempurature of the earth. weather patterns shift wildly during this event, Millions of people die on both continents millions more are injured and tens of millions become homeless immigrants. but it gets worse. The Green house gasses released is so potent it essentially smothers the earth, There is so much Carbon monoxide in the atmosphere that life begins dying across the planet. when the fires finally burn themselves out, a rain begins, a rain that will last for years. Carbolic acid, rain that has become saturated with the carbon and become toxic from our now bloated atmosphere will envelop the earth, killing everything in all fresh water and most of the oceans within a couple of years. The skys will darken as much of the surface will be covered in endless overcast, reflecting sunlight, until a day comes when the carbon has rained itself out, as as such the green house effect fades... and the long global winter finally comes and wipes out the rest of earths solar dependent life forms. and that is the result of this ridiculos idea of monoculture. death.

JimNapalm : As an Algerian (biggest country in Africa with 90% Sahara desert, for people who are bad at geography :p) we used to hear about these kind of initiatives A LOT. and I mean A LOT. The Algerian government has been trying for decades to stop the "Advance of the desert" (Desert creeping up on green lands). Their solution was to plant a barrier of trees and some fellow Algerian kids regularly went south themselves to plant the trees as a school project. This initiative was called "assad el akhdar" (The green barrier) and as far as I know, it didn't work. Maybe because of a lack of up keep, maybe because there were not enough trees planted, but the desert is still creeping up and the trees are dying. And about the underground water supply, there is a very real threat that fracking, which has started being used in the region will contaminate the water forever... :/ Edit : Edited the little jab at ignorant Americans, it wasn't really fair because all countries have some of those :)

epSos.de : We could also terraform Spain to produce olive oil :-) The olive trees are like a forest that is producing olive oil :-)

Timothy McLean : Cheap solar and wind energy are nice, but they have too many downsides. They're inactive much of the time, they take up loads of space, etc etc. We need to supplement them with _some_ kind of power which can be generated 24/7 in small plants, with minimal carbon footprint. Luckily, we have that. It's called nuclear power. The risks are overstated (a properly-maintained power plant emits less radiation than you'd get in Denver, nuclear waste is kept in-plant until its radiation output slows to a safe rate, meltdowns are incredibly unlikely if you don't turn off safety systems [Chernobyl] or get hit with multiple simultaneous natural disasters [Fukishima], etc), and the benefits are immense. I'm not saying we should use nuclear _instead_ of solar and wind; I'm saying that we should use nuclear _in addition to_ solar and wind. And geothermal, and maybe some forms of hydropower, and probably some other stuff. But nuclear should be part of that equation—it fills in so many gaps left by the weaknesses of other green power sources.

We gon get stank : Doesn't the Sahara desert provide nutritious Phosperous dust to the Amazon rainforest?

akio2589 : Solar and wind is not the solution... The future is nuclear power. Specifically fusion, provided we can overcome some of the obstacles associated with it. Which, we can and will. It's just a matter of time. Even fission is arguably better for the environment, with literally no CO2 emissions and with modern safety standards, negligible risk (note that I said *modern* ...). Neither Fukushima or Chernobyl were built with modern safety safeguards and redundancies in place. I have *intimate* knowledge of those accidents (and others), as I've spent plenty of time in the nuclear field. Try me.

Arthur Giles : This sounds like a grand scheme but why do it the hard way?  Why not stop large parts of the world from 'becoming' deserts in the first place?  You don't  need to ask where is the part I'm referring to, it's the Rain Forest in South America.   If every nation, each bought all the trees in a large area on condition that the trees were to be left standing, the forest would be there forever.   To save the Australian desert is feasible but to work on the Sahara would be a failure - the Arabs would resent non-Arabs being there and at the first chance would fill the reclaimed patches with goats and turn it back into desert.

Helois Gevit : Nuclear fusion is the ultimate solution to our energy problems this century, whether we will crack it remains to be seen.

Alberto_Valentini : Don't eucalyptus trees tend to self combust all the time?

neutrallyBiassed : If we all work together, we could remove the tilt of the earth.

Albert Lee : Seriously this idea is ridiculous, there are many technology that can adsorb and transform CO2 in a way more space saving and efficient way.

EthaN : People worry too much about the problem and not ways to solve it.

Karl Karlson : Sure carbon tax...pay it and pay it what ever makes ya happy...

Timothy McLean : Oh, _your_ country is going to miss its carbon targets? I'd probably empathise more if my country's incumbent executive officials (and too many of its legislators) weren't actively denying that anthropogenic climate change was a thing.

Sudden Cucumber : If plants get most of their mass from CO2, shouldn't they grow faster when there is more CO2? Isn't the phytoplankton the main source of oxygen, and thus the main consumer of CO2? Aren't there many other greenhouse gases that are much more effective than CO2, like methane which is 30 times more potent than CO2? If there are, why is everybody talking about CO2, and not as much about these other gases? Are the greenhouse gases the only thing that regulates the climate? Finally, the earth has experienced much higher temperatures than now (example - Eocene, more recent - Minoan warming, Roman warming, Medieval warming), and that was not a catastrophe for the environment. If the life would be that fragile, it would not have survived for over 3 billion years.

jesperom[SF] : I agree with climate change and the heating of the earth, logically, because it's an observable fact. But i feel that the man made climate change isnt as proven as people think it is. Is there someone that can give me the absolute proof that we, humans, are the cause of the heating and that this wouldnt have happenned without it at all?

boris said : There is an energy that produces no carbon and little waste that has been around since the 60s. Nuclear. Its safer than every other energy source.

paolo de pablo : Why dont we make thorium Nuclear plants?

sock lover : is it just me or did he say that the eukalyptus tree is the habitat for these cute little shits

gsilva220 : Would be a cool challenge to our capabilities before we try on Mars. Antarctica would also be a good one.

Pinnacle Building Maintenance Ltd : I am 40 years old and I’ve been hearing this rubbish since I was a kid watching ‘Tomorrows World’. Nothing has changed, our impact on the environment is negligible at best with regards to atmospheric changes. Pollution, including nuclear pollution, is another matter, this is having a real effect and should be concentrated on rather than this modern cult of doom which is used to extract more taxes that are pilfered away into progressive enviro corporations profits, Tesla being a prime example.

bob jones : Rather than use energy to grow trees to store emissions of the same energy source, why not cut the shit and just go solar/nuclear?

stefanos2691 : You forgot that if only one type of tree is planted and a disease strakes, the entire forest is in danger. It happened to a Greek island, I think it was Icaria. They planted pines to replace the burned forest and then a kind of caterpillar took over. Also, planting an Australian forest in the middle of Africa, will confuse and disrupt the wildlife.

Skyer : If they want to plant that many trees, a Monoculture would be a horrible idea, A minimum of 4 tree species would be needed

Adam Kendall : No because the climate will still keep changing. Where is the climate "supposed" to be?

Richard : Absolute bullshit, CO2 rising because the temperature is rising, not due to CO2 you're just after contributions from people who think putting science in front of a pointless degree, makes them an engineer. Glad I'm in the UK and hopefully away from the madness of the EU soon away from all you nutters who know naff all and will will waste billions in pointless projects.

Adrian : Cant we genetically engineer trees to take in more carbon?

Matt McKinley : Eucalyptus Grandis' common name is 'Flooded Gum' because it needs a LOT of water. Wondering why this was the preferred species?

Vinesh Pendurthi : Find it so funny he calls koalas "These cute little shits."

Modern Craftsman : Terraform the Sahara? Doesn't talk about soil quality. Doesn't address transportation, forestry, or material costs. Ya know trees and plants need a lot more than just water right? The largest cost in a project like this is going to be building and establishing a content wide infrastructure to support and maintain said operation and to develop the soils needed to support plant life. You can't plan to irrigate two entire contents and not even factor into your math simple irrigation evaporation? I'm sorry. You've clear shotted way around 'basic planning 101.' You've lost all credibility with me. Unsubscibed.

SuperStruct : By this logic it's like moving everyone to mars during a huge meteor strike. Blowing up the meteor outside of hitting earth is the better option. SOLAR SOLAR SOLAR. Trust me Terraforming is a waste. You don't even know what impact that would have, probably create a desert somewhere else if you're gonna pump water and shit into the desert.

stefanos2691 : The nuclear industry trolls are hard at work in this comment section.

Ryukachoo : 11:20 Actually what's starting us in the face is productionizing synthetic meat like the impossible burger. Assuming you get all the fast food chains on board, that'll destroy most of the excess beef industry. With cows out of the picture, the amazon can basically go back to being what it was and the methane produced by all those cow burps goes way down

King Wiwuz IV : Why doesn't anybody discuss nuclear energy? That's the most viable option IMO even more than solar and wind

Paul Ward : 2K people don't like being told they're wrong on climate change, I guess

Stephen Lane : Climate Change is a natural process - almost exclusively driven by the output of the Sun. We happen to be in a warming trend. Later we will be in a cooling trend. The New Religion of Manmade Climate Change is just a 21st Century iteration of one of the oldest religious ideas; aka: "The Gods are Punishing Us with Bad Weather and we need to start making sacrifices to appease the Gods". For millennia, the high priests of whatever religion takes your fancy have been more than happy to separate you from your money with the promise that they can keep the Wrath of the Gods at bay. Thats all thats going on here. Unfortunately the New Religion is strong and will persist.

Raymond K Petry : *_...to start answering your question, we note, bigger rocks lie atop smaller because smaller work under when bigger shake... so likewise sand lies atop finer soil, and terraforming will require discovering good soil beneath the deep layer of stony sand, (unless you're waiting millions of years for the process to do itself)... Or, you might concrete the sand into walls, and fuse some into glass hothouse ceilings, and dig down and mix the soil and sand..._*

Ryukachoo : Honestly, with cheap launch costs, it seems like a space mirror system would actually be cheaper than this

Johnny Yu : Why don't just use nuclear power plant ?

a guy from Florida : what if you just make a bunch of man made rivers and lakes in the deserts for rain, i dont know anything about engineering but it seems like a good idea to me

Liam M : Did you really pronounce height as heith? Lol

SuperStruct : By this same logic we could just terraform the places that are getting way hotter, not just the saharah. Elon Musk is solving this as well as myself. SOLAR SOLAR SOLAR. Huge reactor in the sky.

Nathan Remix : Lucky man you people live in earth . We martian barely have water to drink .

THE SILENT GOD : the answer to drastically reducing emissions has been staring at our faces for decades; it is the nuclear energy. hydro and geo are not available everywhere and solar&wind are inherently intermittent and need backup. large scale storage is too expensive and would have a big environmental impact and also increase emissions anyway. so, our only choice to fill the huge gaps in production is nuclear energy, which has one of the lowest emissions. so, let us accept and embrace nuclear energy

yo Alex : Africa is too corrupt tbh.

George Streicher : Thorium nuclear energy will solve all of the worlds energy needs. Projects like desalinization will be made economically more practical. The use of thorium will reduce the production of carbon emissions and pollution. .8 degree increase in global temperature causing a world catastrophe? Really, get a grip on reality. The whole carbon emissions causing global warming is  propaganda to rip off first world countries and redistribute money to the third world and global elites. It is economic control on a global scale. If we are really worried about so called global warming, we should be promoting thorium nuclear energy. Please stop the global warming BS.

Sam theirongolem : I mean, I know you _can..._