reclaiming the desert

South Korean designer Jin-wook Hwang has come up with an intriguing proposal for large-scale deployment of self-contained “seed bombs” into arid areas. The bombs, capsules containing seeds, soil and nutrients, will act as greenhouses for the fledgling seeds, then harmlessly biodegrade once the plants have taken hold. Science fiction fans will doubtless feel right at home with the idea, reminiscent as it is of the terraforming schemes popular in the canon.

Veering even closer to full-fledged geoengineering is an ambitious plan to flood a 6000km long strip of the Sahara with bacteria that will set the dunes into sandstone, effectively forming a wall against the further spread of the desert. As the architect, Magnus Larsson admits, the plan is “fraught with many challenges”, but the basic idea seems very promising.

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