For many hundreds of years now mankind has reaped havoc on this beautiful blue green planet of ours. Europe used to be a woodland, this was destroyed to make way for agriculture and later for building homes and shipping and of course not forgetting wood for fuel, our ancestors had to keep warm as well.
This on its own was not too important, after all we were not producing vast amounts of carbon-based emissions back then and even if we were the Americas across the Atlantic Ocean were pretty well covered in virgin woodlands, so the emissions we produced could be consumed in the same way as they had done since the carboniferous period. Sadly these great forests are now all but depleted and we are producing more carbon emissions than ever.
The solution is simple, however it is also slow, and the end results may not be seen for up to five hundred years. Although within fifty years things would be established well enough to make a difference.
In Roman times the Sahara desert was green and it should be possible to make it so again, as previously stated it would be a very slow process and so it would need to be started sooner rather than later, it would happen in three main stages:
Water must be made available, with this plan it does not need to be fresh water. A swathe would need to be cut through the sahara desert, it would need to be wide and deep to prevent the sands of the desert from claiming it back. Also it would need to be made from great loops, the same as is seen when viewing the Amazon river from the air. These loops would give a greater surface area of land to volume of water. If this river is dug, it would need to be at least one hundred meters wide and twenty meters deep. Each loop would need to be in the region of five miles long and approximately one mile across. Obviously the further inland these swathes are cut the better and likewise the more of them that are made the better as well
The next step sounds rather unpleasant and controversial but would be a big help in the initial stages. The edges of the new river would need to be fertilized and the most abundant source of fertilizer available to man is mans' waste. This would include sewage and agricultural waste. Yes, this sounds terrible but surprisingly when sewage has been compressed it is remarkably similar to wet soil and not only that it does not smell too bad. There are areas in the world that use human waste as a fertilizer in preference to cattle manure already.
This waste material would need to be shipped to the site and deposited along the river bed, the further inland the better so it would be better to be mixed into slurry and pumped out on to the banks. It should be considered that this radical method would only happen once along the banks of the new river and may not be necessary at all. We have all seen film of the deserts bloom days after the rains have started - it may be that the desert is already fertile enough for part three to take place.
Now the most important part of the project, in the coastal areas of Australia there are mangroves that can survive on salt water. These types of mangroves would then be planted along both banks of the new river. Within five years the new mangroves should be established.
As the root structure becomes established further the water table will start to rise on the landward side of the mangrove and the trees will start to head inland. The further away from the river they grow the less saline the water will be as the roots' soil naturally filters the water; and the freshwater table will now rise. The seasonal decay will start to feed the soil around the edge of the mangrove and grasses and bush plants will start to grow. Now regular trees can be planted; a mixture of rapid growth and slow growing hardwoods would give a rapid effect on the area with a long term plan.
As the new rain forest comes to maturity and with equatorial heat and the moisture given off by the new vegetation, the air will start to become humid and rain will start to be generated causing a micro-climate which will then allow further growth across the entire region.
As the fully established rain forest spreads beyond the boundary of the river, the generated rain would also create tributaries and the Sahara would blossom. As the new rain forest grows, so the carbon would be diminished from the atmosphere.
When in drought conditions a rain forest will give off more carbon dioxide than it absorbs, which is a problem; however it can only give off carbon which it has already absorbed and unless it burns it cannot give off more than has been absorbed.
How will the local inhabitants benefit by having their lands changed beyond recognition? Well Firstly there will an abundance of water, probably enough to build huge reservoirs and pump across the entire continent. Not just for people to drink but for irrigation for farming both livestock and arable. Not to mention that everyone will suffer the ravages of climate change.This in conjunction with sensible energy production and use will help to heal the planet.