Flooding the Sahara

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy Banned

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    In ATL the French had plans to create a Gulf of Triton (?) in part of Tunisia and Algeria. Is this feasible? Does anyone have a map, or at least a description, of the new coastline? What effects would this have on the climate, soils, and biology of the area? Where would the best places to establish settlemets be?
     
  2. Highlander Banned

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    I can imagine it would be terrible for local wildlife, but would provide easier irrigation and trade routs.

    What year would this be attempted?
     
  3. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy Banned

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    Well the idea has a whole history behind it, but the earliest proposal to catch the public's interest came from a French officer in the late 1860s or early 1870s. I can't remember the name or year, try googling some keywords.
     
  4. jolo timeline perfectionist

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    The idea also came to my mind. It would increase rainfall in the area, even out temperatures, and allow lots of salt water plants to grow. Some parts of the coast should be used for salt production, to keep salt levels down.

    All you need is a piece of desert close to the coast and lower than the surrounding sea, at least during tides. Dig a big channel, and it's done. If the area is higher than sea level, a few wind driven pumps might be needed, and it takes more time.

    I'd do it if I didn't have another use for the area.
     
  5. carlton_bach Member

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    I really, really love these heroic engineering ideas, but where exactly did they plan to do this? Most of the Sahara is well above sea level - several hundred meters. There is an area just southeast of the Atlas mountains that is near sea level, that may have been what they had in mind, but 'flooding the Sahara' is overstating that case a bit.

    Given Western Civilisation's track record at improving the lot of other climes, the place would probably just turn into a stinking, malarial swamp...
     
  6. chunkeymonkey13q General Secretary

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    The Sahara desert by itself is pretty worthless by itself, flooding it would probably be the best option.
     
  7. Flocculencio Fabian Socialist Donor

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    It sounds like one of those amazing Victorian ideas. Noble in ideals but unworkable :D
     
  8. Justin Pickard Schweitzer/Sebelius 2016

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    Try looking for the Qattara Depression - a significant engineering project (although not as large at Suez or Panama) could have created a flow of water from the Med into an artifical lake. Furthermore, the climatic evaporation would have left vast quantities of salt - which could be mined for industrial purposes. If this had happened, Egypt (or possibly the UK, or even France) would be far more economically powerful today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qattara_Depression

    http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80858e/80858E0a.htm

    It's possible that I might do a TL based on this at some point. I did have a look at the possibilities in my Three Thrones TL, but I think this might be worthy of independent examination. Something for Christmas, perhaps. :rolleyes:
     
  9. chunkeymonkey13q General Secretary

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    The question is, if they flooded it, could they keep it flooded?
     
  10. Admiral Matt Member

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    No. That's not really an issue. They might have to dredge the channel off and on, but otherwise it'll just take care of itself.
     
  11. NapoleonXIV Banned

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    I found this, certainly one of the sillier sites I've been to, but the music is mellow on a rainy night, dude. Damned long and not even a map. Also, I think even Africa may object to Europe's sewage being used to irrigate them:rolleyes:
     
  12. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy Banned

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    I'm bumping this after 5 years to see if any of the people who've joined since have any ideas.
     
  13. Vitruvius Donor

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    Yes I've heard of this project before. It was supposed to flood the Chott El Jerid (aka Djerid) in Tunisia to form an an inland sea. Some plans called for an extension into the Chotts of neighboring Algeria as well. It was supposed to recreate the ancient Lake Triton(is) that allegedly existed there in ancient times. There's some info here and here.

    I don't think it ever went past the fanciful what if planning stage. There were also some even more elaborate plans to transform the Sahara which you can read about here.
     
  14. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    Wasn't this also discused with the Atlantropa Project?
     
  15. Vitruvius Donor

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    The second one, the Congo-Chad mega project, was part of Atlantropa. The first, more limited proposal, for recreating Lake Tritonis was put forward much earlier and was mainly a French colonial project to increase the value of Algeria as a center of trade and agriculture.
     
  16. GoaHockey Well-Known Member

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    This would probably end in another huge environmental disaster that would take generations to heal. (think enormous Soviet engineering projects like the Virgin Lands program/Aral Sea).
     
  17. Faralis Potato Anarchist

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  18. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    Tuaregs would strongly disagree.
     
  19. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    More to to topic, there are two novels by Jules Verne and John Wyndham respectively, that took the idea seriously; it was science fiction, but I think they hint at a significant impact of such ideas on the social imagery of the time.
     
  20. karl2025 Well-Known Member

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    I love the scope of these projects, but they'd be an ecological disaster.