DEVELOPING THE DESERTS
Modern man is growing rich in the desert. Applying his high powered-technology to the problems of developing arid areas., he is finding new sources of water, learning to grow lush crops and recovering great mineral wealth. Increasingly,, as in the U.S., he is coming to regard the desert not as a wasteland but as a precious source of the things he wants and needs.
California's Man-Made Oasis
In southern California's Imperial Valley, located in the Soronan Desert. At the turn of the century, the valley was as desolated as the desert areas surrounding it. Today it produces crops the year round, and its transformations stands as one of the great examples in modern times of recovery of arid land by IRRIGATION.
Colorado River water is diverted by gravity flow along a canal to the valley, which is below sea-level. There in combination with rich soil and unending sunshine, it acts to bring forth extraordinary crops yields.
Plastic Greenhouses in Abu Dhabi
Advanced technology can provide showcases like the plastic greenhouses of Abu Dhabi that are irrigated by desalinated sea-water and yield bumper crops of vegetables all year round. More modest technologies like the pivot irrigation systems that tap underground water and spray it in huge circles, permit wheat to be harvested on the Libyan desert.
Valuable Salts in Desert Lakes
Utah's Great Salt Lake is allowed to stand in an ordinary water glass until it has evaporated, a residence of salt 2.5cm deep will remain at the bottom. Ingenious systems helped pioneer a major desert industry: the extraction and processing of common salt and many valuable by-products -including potash, borax, caustic soda and chlorine from the salt-saturated, lifeless waters of desert lakes.
Source: Starker Leopold, The Desert, Time Life Books, Hong Kong, 1980.