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Bacteria Could Help Stop Desertification

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the bactine-bulldozers dept.

Earth 218

Bridgette Steffen writes "In attempt to slow down desertification, a student at London's Architectural Association has proposed a 6000 km sandstone wall that will not only act as a break across the Sahara Desert, but also serve as refugee shelter. Last fall it won first prize in the Holcim Foundation's Awards for Sustainable Construction, and will use bacteria to solidify the sandstone."

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I for one (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855693)

Welcome our brick and mortar overlords.

Re:I for one (2, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855763)

TFA also has a blurb about "sustainable" bricks... made out of cow dung.

No word on your mortar yet, but you can keep your overlords kthxbye.

Re:I for one (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855785)

If our overlords are shitting out dung, no matter how useful, I'd prefer then to be underlords, or over-to-one-side-lords, or not-over-my-head-at-least-lords.

Re:I for one (2, Funny)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855971)

If our overlords are shitting out dung, no matter how useful, I'd prefer then to be underlords, or over-to-one-side-lords, or not-over-my-head-at-least-lords.

Some aborigines consider dung a delicacy, you insensitive clod!!! Consider it a "desert" if you will...

Re:I for one (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856013)

There's a reason that the indigs got conquered.

Re:I for one (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856129)

So how do you explain white fellas paying $100 a cup for coffee made from cat shit [telegraph.co.uk] ? Maybe the dung has nothing to do with it and you are racist who has it if for Aborigines, no matter what they do?

Re:I for one (1)

thebigbadme (194140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856431)

yes, because the area was colonized at a later time, and the people hadn't managed to domesticate as many different plants/animals as had the people of EurAsia... and therefor they didn't develop as many useful natural immunities to the diseases carried by such and such related animals, nor did they produce so much extra food as to be able to sustain specialists at the same rate as in E/A whereby production, and general growth of the territory, could be accelerated... the way that the invaders had so done.

Eating shit, if it has enough good stuff with not so much bad stuff, probably actually helped them to survive in a land that is today still largely undeveloped (that is, if this factoid is true)... you know what, just read Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond...

and please, try not to think of yourself as any better than anyone else.

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856111)

Hah. Not just [wikipedia.org] Aboriginals.

Re:I for one (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856117)

If our overlords are shitting out dung

Actually, we should start to worry if they start shitting out anything other than that. At the very least I'd say a trip to the doctor is in order.

Re:I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856655)

What if it's gold ?
We could be all rich !

Let the Irish Pay for It !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856033)

They want to tax my gore-given internet, let them pay for this fucking 3600 mi. wall, the folley of africa. I mean, it's africa. it's a desert. Get over it already.

deserts move all the time (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855715)

why exactly are we to interfer with this process?

Re:deserts move all the time (3, Insightful)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855723)

Because humans always assume that the way things are is the best way for them to be.

Re:deserts move all the time (2, Informative)

Gravedigger3 (888675) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855753)

Perhaps because most of the times when man believes himself wiser than nature we end up learning different.

Re:deserts move all the time (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855807)

Nature is not "wise", and it is wrong to personify it or otherwise assume otherwise. All nature does is follow the path of least resistance.

Re:deserts move all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27855845)

There is no reason to argue with conservatives. Just move ahead and let them smugly justify it with their economic theory.

Re:deserts move all the time (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855857)

There is no reason to argue with conservatives

Except it's usually the loopy lefty crunchy hippy types that actually most often anthropomorophize nature, assign it a personality, presume they know what it wants and how it should be, etc. You know it's true.

Re:deserts move all the time (1, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855915)

It's hardly anthropomorphic to describe nature as self correcting. Life on earth survived for what, like a billion years without modern man fucking it up? Pretty much a model for sustainability if you ask me.

A balanced and closed ecosystem is naturally self correcting. Humans will prove no different. The available resources will be consumed, humans will die off in large numbers and a balance will be reached eventually where real sustainability can be achieved.

This of course assumes we don't discover a way to leave the planet in droves, aren't wiped out by a meteor and don't start a nuclear holocaust first.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

robinesque (977170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855993)

The whole notion of "sustainability" is somewhat contrived on that time scale. Everything we're doing is just a stall, as the sun will eventually cool.

Re:deserts move all the time (3, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856019)

It's hardly anthropomorphic to describe nature as self correcting. Life on earth survived for what, like a billion years without modern man fucking it up? Pretty much a model for sustainability if you ask me.

Life as a whole survived, sure, but there were changes and extinctions, just as there are now. It's sustainable only in the way that everything is.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856023)

A balanced and closed ecosystem is naturally self correcting. Humans will prove no different. The available resources will be consumed, humans will die off in large numbers and a balance will be reached ...

The late George Carlin described the above scenario as an Eden where man is a distant memory, and earth and styrofoam coexist happily.

Re:deserts move all the time (2, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856125)

It's hardly anthropomorphic to describe nature as self correcting. Life on earth survived for what, like a billion years without modern man fucking it up? Pretty much a model for sustainability if you ask me.

It's hardly anthropomorphic to describe nature as self correcting? Really? That implies that there is something to correct, which implies ... . Not to mention describing some universal aspect of "Life" which the existence of an unbalanced humanity can "fuck up?" Sounds pretty anthropomorphized to me.

The crux of the matter seems to be, what do you mean by "self correcting?" I'm also unsure why you bring modern man into the equation. Surely you're aware of a multitude of previous mass extinctions? Surely you're aware of the extinction of not only species but of entire orders of life? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying, but when you say "without modern man fucking it" you make it sound like humans are something exceptional in terms of extinctions?

A balanced and closed ecosystem is naturally self correcting. Humans will prove no different. The available resources will be consumed, humans will die off in large numbers and a balance will be reached eventually where real sustainability can be achieved.

Ah yes, sustainability...the new holy grail.

The only thing "self correcting" or "sustainable" about life on earth is that there is life on earth.

Re:deserts move all the time (3, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856203)

When people describe nature as self-correcting, they aren't usually referring to any inherent right or wrong. What gets corrected is imbalance, such as restoring a predator-prey system to equilibrium. It seems to me that discussing natural equilibria doesn't have to involve intent, purpose, morals, or anything else that would make it anthropomorphic to say that nature is self-correcting.

Re:deserts move all the time (5, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856405)

Right, I understand that (and almost didn't say what I did, how I did..) but then again, what is balance in nature--what does that mean?

I don't think there is any (forgive the term) "natural" state which is the proper and balanced state. Everything in nature is constantly in flux. Sure, to use the common example of the predator-prey equilibrium, that is sometimes the case. Sometimes the predators go extinct, sometimes prey go extinct, sometimes they both do.

It seems to me that it's far easier to look at life on Earth through the lens of evolutionary bubbles and crashes. It only seems self correcting because we want to apply some kind of order to it, when it reality, that's just the way the universe works. When a forest fire burns, it burns everything it can, until it's burned too much and dies out. That seems about the same level of self correcting to me.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856469)

Well said. This is more or less what I was thinking; but I thought "hey it's 3:30a, maybe I'm making a really stupid leap in logic here, I'd best not make this post". You phrased it better than I would've in my sleepless state...

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856689)

It's hardly anthropomorphic to describe nature as self correcting? Really?

Yep. Just like when economists describe the free market as 'self-correcting', they don't mean there's a Big, All-Powerful Entity controlling it from the shadows, it's just that the system is such that minor changes will be met by opposite changes so that, overall, the system isn't affected on a large scale.

All some people are saying is, that like economies the 'self-correcting' system doesn't work as well for very large changes so when a single entity is far more greedy than it should, the entire system could be brought down by it. And since there's no "humanity bailout", we ought to be more careful with it than we have with our own markets.

Re:deserts move all the time (2, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856257)

Modern man is a part of the modern ecosystem, and occupies the top slot in the food chain. The planet is ours, period, and given technological advances it's highly unlikely that mankind will render the planet uninhabitable. Other species are not deserving of any special treatment. Get over it.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856461)

Life on earth survived for what, like a billion years without modern man fucking it up? Pretty much a model for sustainability if you ask me.

Yeah, then those dinosaurs came along and fucked with the natural order, and look what happened to them.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856801)

Blame the plants, not the dinosaurs.

They poisoned our planet with oxygen, and look what happened!

Re:deserts move all the time (1, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856355)

There is no reason to argue with conservatives

Shooting them on sight is always an option.

Re:deserts move all the time (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856253)

i'm not conservative. if you want to see a bunch of conservatives take a look at the environmental movement

Re:deserts move all the time (2, Funny)

powerslave12r (1389937) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855941)

follow the path of least resistance.

That's how I'm working on my thesis.

Re:deserts move all the time (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855951)

I was watching a program last night about the evolution of the planet, something about vulcanic activity and the superplume, and other things, as well as the evolution of the first landwalkers (tulogs?) that basically looked like a cross between crocodiles and fish, among all the changes in the environment, as well as mass ocean pollution (millions of years ago) killing a vast number of species.

When someone says nature is wise, they probably are romantizing how much "nature"/god? cares about our survival as a species but also don't want to be at the short end of the evolutionary stick when nature shows it' uncaring side and things change. I'm sure a man-made solutions to various things would be welcomed with open arms then.

Re:deserts move all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856571)

Vulcanic activity? I didn't know Vulcans had a vested interest in the evolution of Earth at this point in time. ;)

Although someone could totally turn it into a storyline...

Re:deserts move all the time (2, Insightful)

Gravedigger3 (888675) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855997)

This article proposes that we could influence the climate of a large part of the African continent using a wall, albeit a very imaginative wall.

This seems to have 2 very obvious problems...

first of all, this [flickr.com] is what they are talking about harnessing with that wall. I hope those bacteria aren't afraid of heights.

Second, I am no environmentalist (proud to say), but seems to me that making such a large impact on the worlds climate (and the Sahara sandstorm is a force that has effects on the entire globe) is something that could have many unforseen effects.

I am no hippie but whenever it comes to a discussion about making a major "upgrade" to our environment I remain suspicious. Nature itself may not be wise.... but its balanced. We have a way of upsetting that balance in the interest of making things "better" for us.

Sometimes the risk and effort is worth it, but this doesn't seem like one of those cases in its current stage.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856479)

If there is truly "balance" to be had in nature, then it will happen no matter what we do. If it doesn't, then any concept of such a balance is a fiction.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856135)

Nature is not "wise", and it is wrong to personify it

Yeah man she hates that!

Re:deserts move all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856439)

sounds wise to me ;)

Re:deserts move all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27857041)

Nature is not "wise", and it is wrong to personify it or otherwise assume otherwise.

Yes, she hates it when people do that! Oh come on, personifying is just a harmless internal mental representation of inanimate things that helps people harness the power of both hemispheres of their brains in solving problems. Only a child would take it literally. How old are you?

All nature does is follow the path of least resistance.

Some (e.g. the Taoists) would argue that following the path of least resistance is the ultimate wisdom.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

Jahava (946858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855867)

Perhaps because most of the times when man believes himself wiser than nature we end up learning different.

Nature has no capacity for wisdom. It's a fundamental operation of (almost) any species to modify nature in the interest of its self-preservation. This is just another such undertaking.

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856219)

Very few species make any significant modifications to the world around them. Almost all species are limited to at most building temporary nests or things like that. Humans are almost unique in that they find it easier to change the rest of the world than to change themselves.

Re:deserts move all the time (5, Insightful)

The Yuckinator (898499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855737)

It's what we do. We interfere with processes all the time.

I'm a big fan of interfering.

Re:deserts move all the time (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27855777)

why exactly are we to interfer with this process?

Because moving the farmers would require something approaching socialism, and not moving the farmers would require something appraching starvation.

Moving the desert is a better choice.

Re:deserts move all the time (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855921)

Who the hell are you? Muad'Dib?

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856485)

Moving the desert is a better choice.

If the Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed. Or, erm, something like that ;)

Re:deserts move all the time (1)

mog007 (677810) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855879)

Considering that the desertification of the Sahara will eventually stop, and recede, and turn the desert back into a temperate climate when the Earth's precession realigns it to what it was like several thousand years ago.

Re:deserts move all the time (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856493)

why exactly are we to interfer with this process?

Gotta do SOMETHING with all that bacteria and sand.

Hmm (1)

Gravedigger3 (888675) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855719)

I see a lot of postulation on whether or not they can without much convincing information on why they should. Seems to me that constructing a 21st century version of the Great Wall of China through the Sahara desert isn't something that's worth the effort.

A shield wall works great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27855729)

...until some fool blows it up with atomics.

Re:A shield wall works great... (4, Funny)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855895)

Nonsense. You can't use atomics on shields, you can only use them on geological features. Otherwise the other great houses will obliterate you.

but you forgot... (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855931)

The slow grain pierces the shield wall.

Specifics (5, Informative)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855733)

So basically, Bacillus Pasteurii will be used to actually turn the sand into sandstone instead of waiting for thousands of years or using other kinds of walls.

To be honest, the part which is more interesting is the fact that desertification will be stopped by using a wall. Sure, the Slashdot summary used bacteria as a hook, but in all honesty, the wall is more important than the bacteria anyway, which is why there's only a small mention of the bacteria in the source article.

Re:Specifics (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855881)

I read a while ago about a German guy who invented a way to make farmable land out of desert:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,551152,00.html [spiegel.de]
(He moved on to make a radar camoflaging paint):

"The project seemed promising at first, as cucumbers, radishes and beans thrived on Nickel's test fields on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. But the project also consumed vast numbers of worms -- 3,000 per square meter, to be exact -- which eventually made the project too costly for its sponsors."

I wonder what the costs between the two projects are or if they could be used in conjuction with each other (to lower costs) somehow.

Re:Specifics (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856225)

Someone needs to genetically engineer a big desert worm.

Re:Specifics (4, Funny)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856247)

/me rushes to patent the thumper

Re:Specifics (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856823)

Believe it or not, Frank Herbert didn't come up with the concept. He just borrowed the concept from existing technology, and just made the worms a whole lot bigger.

How will a wall help ? (3, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855755)

A main part of the problem is that sand storms blow so much sand on surrounding grasslands, it kills the plants and spreads the desert. I don't see how a wall could help, unless it was kilometers high. It would need to stop this [wikimedia.org] ?

Re:How will a wall help ? (2, Interesting)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855843)

If most of the sand blows along the ground, it will collect at the base of the wall until it becomes a long sand dune. Since they are using bacteria, I could imagine them then solidifying the uppermost portion of the dune to make it higher. Rinse and repeat until your mountain (or hill) chain stops growing.

Re:How will a wall help ? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855963)

Since they are using bacteria, I could imagine them then solidifying the uppermost portion of the dune to make it higher. Rinse and repeat until your mountain (or hill) chain stops growing.

Where will they get the water from?

Re:How will a wall help ? (3, Insightful)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856337)

Sandtrout and wind traps, duh.

Re:How will a wall help ? (1)

mez (15600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27857047)

Just keep second (familiar) generation Herberts away from it all. They are neither innovative NOR honorably-motivated.

Srsly.. Ultra-spice? Stupid on its face.

Re:How will a wall help ? (5, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855893)

I don't see how a wall could help, unless it was kilometers high. It would need to stop this ?

The vast majority of the sand is traveling very low to the ground. Sure, there's still a nice big dust cloud up high, but that big tall plume represents the least dense of the material, which is why it rises to the top.

You're essentially asking, "why have a sea wall if the very tops of the largest waves might still occasionally break over the top?"

Re:How will a wall help ? (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855937)

I'm personally wondering what would prevent this wall from just catalyzing the formation of a massive sand dune, which would eventually rise above the wall, effectively rendering the wall useless. Unlike the Ocean, once sand rises up against the wall it isn't going to flow back out later.

Re:How will a wall help ? (3, Insightful)

polymeris (902231) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856053)

Unlike the Ocean, once sand rises up against the wall it isn't going to flow back out later.

Unlike the ocean? Same thing happens there. Actually in some places walls are constructed along coastlines to trap sand for beach nourishment.

Re:How will a wall help ? (2, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855985)

Well they have the same problem with desertification in China, where the Gobi and 2 other smaller deserts are growing. Beijing gets regular sandstorms now because of this. It seems like mountains and yes, the Great Wall of China, has little effect in preventing these.

Re:How will a wall help ? (2, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856759)

It seems like mountains and yes, the Great Wall of China, has little effect in preventing these.

The great wall of China wasn't designed as a wind break. In fact it's in the worst possible location (right at the top of mountains), presenting the bare minimum of resistance to updraft airflow.

Re:How will a wall help ? (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856779)

The main trouble I see (IMHO all this post, by the way) is not by the sand that flies higher than the wall as for the sand that get stopped at the bottom of the wall. I'd think that the sand that accumulates there will progresively form a half-dune. Once this happens, one of two might be the end:

  1. The wall colapses due to the weight of the sand.
  2. (more likely) the dune causes the wind to go uphill so the wall is rendered useless.

At the very least, the wall should be combined with other measures (growing plants that fix the sand, for example) to be effective.

Re:How will a wall help ? (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856169)

Years ago I read about a plan to build a huge wall (for want of a better name) in central Australia. The wall would be thousands of metres high with a triangular cross section. In effect, an artificial north-south mountain range. The idea is that a lot of water vapour crosses Australia without precipitating because it never gets pushed to high enough altitudes to cool and condense. The article also suggested that the interior of the mountain could be used to store grains. I suppose these days we would put Afghan refugees in there as well.

This happens to me a lot (1)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855765)

At first I read "Bacteria Could Help Stop Decertification," and I was intrigued at how bacteria could possibly have anything to do with PKI or SSL. Not that the actual topic is any less interesting...

Re:de-certification (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855799)

I had the same de-certification read, only I was confounded about how bacteria could help teachers retain their credentials. (my brain processed it as a typical /. typo that got past the editors ... just like all the rest)

How the hell are you supposed to pronounce that bizarre word, anyway?

Details (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855783)

The most information I could find is here [flickr.com] (the full-size images are pretty large) and here [blogspot.com] .

It's hard to pick through the information, but is this scientifically viable? Or is this the random musings of an architecture student focusing only on the architecture side, and ignoring the biology side?

Re:Details (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855925)

The desert exists because of a climate shift; presumably you would need to change the conditions which cause desertification and frankly, I don't think that we could create a wall of enough size to change air currents sufficiently.

Re:Details (3, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856245)

Actually, many scientists believe that the expansion of the Sahara desert is due to loss of vegetation due to over-grazing.

Re:Details (0)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856325)

Quite possibly however, that is unlikely to be the reason why the desert exists in the first place as it is far older than faulty agricultural practices.

Re:Details (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856535)

is this the random musings of an architecture student focusing only on the architecture side, and ignoring the biology side?

I can't comment on the biology, but from a climate science perspective this is ridiculous. The designer has this vision of the Sahara as an endless sea of sand dunes, and thinks desertificaiton means the physical movement of these dunes to cover fertile areas. None of this is true.

This wall will do nothing to make it rain more in the Sahel, and it won't stop people from overgrazing or chopping down trees for firewood either.

Re:Details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856959)

yes, random musings

They do this all the time at the AA (architectural association) its very much fantasy. Look he/she has scaled up bacterial patterns 2000 times expecting the formal qualities to scale.

And Here I Thought We Knew What to Do About Desert (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855911)

You use irrigation techniques designed for low-water environments and strategically place human settlements in areas that you need planted. Plantings and irrigation anchor the soil and add more water to the system.

I know this is a scientific oversimplification, but I think it's been working well enough to shrink some of the Californian, Chinese, and Negev deserts.

Dune Grass in the PNW (2)

jdvogt (1541107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855939)

As I understand the dune-grass in Northern Canada up through Oregon and Washington is invasive and a foreign species. It was originally planted as a way to stop erosion of some beaches and spread out of control almost overnight. What's to prevent something like this happening / getting out of control and wrecking the natural ecosystem of our planet's deserts?

Re:Dune Grass in the PNW (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855975)

Other invasive species that were intentionally introduced but are now wrecking havoc in the northwest include English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry, and Californians.

Re:Dune Grass in the PNW (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856699)

And here in Dixie we have "the weed that ate the south", also known as Kudzu [wikipedia.org] . In the south it was introduced to stop soil erosion and now that crap is everywhere. Telephone poles, abandoned buildings, pretty much anything standing still ends up covered in Kudzu. If you look at pics like this [wikipedia.org] ( which I have seen whole tracts of land, buildings and all, swallowed up like this) you see why we have to be careful about these great ideas of making the land better by introducing new elements like in TFA. What may help in the short term may turn seriously nasty in the long.

I mean just look [wikipedia.org] at how far the Kudzu has spread, and as the neighboring states have a mild winter it won't take it long for the Kudzu to spread. And once that crap gets a foothold good luck getting rid of it. So while slowing down desert expansion is a nice idea and all, I would want to see some serious testing done on a smaller scale to make sure there isn't some "ooops" we haven't thought of.

Misread that. (1)

TheHerk (1521205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855967)

I thought the title read, "Bacteria Could Help Stop Disinfection." Crap! Rubbing eyes... going to bed.

It's called "Bacterial cement" (4, Informative)

S3D (745318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855983)

Little googling revealed that bacteria could actually do it.
Bacterial cement [discovermagazine.com] However bacteria need nutrient (urine base btw) to do it. It may happens simple concrete could actually be cheaper.

Re:It's called "Bacterial cement" (2, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856145)

Little googling revealed that bacteria could actually do it.

Beats the hell out of reading the article!

Re:It's called "Bacterial cement" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856977)

We stick with the processes we already know.

Re:It's called "Bacterial cement" (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856495)

However bacteria need nutrient (urine base btw) to do it.

So... you're saying pee on the sand dunes to make them grow? That's awesome!

Nitrogen Fixing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856751)

What about bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air? I wonder if some combination could do it?

Another pathetic attempt... (3, Funny)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27855989)

...by artists so full of themselves that they think can understand and harness something like stone-making bacteria. I know many of these types. They want to discuss ad nauseum every single scientific advancement and it's cultural implications, thinking that they can make some important contribution to the field. It's obvious these guys don't have a clue, as they think that an ice-nine scenario is something that, first nobody thought of, and second is even possible. These are the same people who hear about the LHC and think that there's a good chance that the universe might implode when they turn it on. As if the world works like it does in the politically motivated somewhat-sci-fi books that are all the rage in these circles.

Please, stay in the coffee shops in the village, discussing the importance of your latest pathetic attempt at relevance through putting mannequin arms in toilets bowls and calling it art.

Re:Another pathetic attempt... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856525)

Please, stay in the coffee shops in the village, discussing the importance of your latest pathetic attempt at relevance through putting mannequin arms in toilets bowls and calling it art.

Problem is, they have the internets in those coffee shops. So they stay in their version of starbucks but with their macbooks and iphones, their attempts at proving that a little bit of knowledge can be the most ridiculous thing spread.

I propose we build a wall out of bacteria and myspace pages to stop the "artistification" of the internet.

Boring (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856037)

I propose genetically engineering bacteria that turn sand into chocolate in an attempt to speed up dessertification, with a side effect of feeding starving refugees.

Bacteria that stops decertification? (2, Funny)

WetCat (558132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856191)

I would love to see that bacteria stop my CCNA from expiration.

Re:Bacteria that stops decertification? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856243)

I would love to see that bacteria stop my GNAA from expiration.

just a basic biology question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856311)

fungi?

Re:just a basic biology question (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856547)

That was a little too basic. In fact, it's SO basic, I'm not sure that qualifies as a question. I'll attempt to answer it anyway:

Algae!

urinate on sand, make cheap bricks, profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856333)

if you can make sandstone by urinating on sand and sprinkling Bacillus Pasteurii, you can get rich

Re:urinate on sand, make cheap bricks, profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856401)

I will gladly donate my pee

Is there any desertification to stop though? (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856501)

What is the evidence that there is any desertification? Where that is defined as deserts which are advancing, and whose advance is not containable by substitution of sustainable farming practices for unsustainable ones, such as over grazing by goats rather than mixed arable farming. That is, mixed crops and animal husbandry with attention to composting, manure and crop rotation.

There is no such evidence. All that is needed is sensible traditional mixed farming. And a lot less journalistic blather about desertification that is not happening, global warming that is not happening, and how the one imaginary event is a consequence of the other imaginary event. And for well meaning idiots to stop subsidizing goats.

And no, its not happening in the Sahel either. But if we buy them enough goats, we could probably make it happen!

Re:Is there any desertification to stop though? (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856615)

Where that is defined as deserts which are advancing, and whose advance is not containable by substitution of sustainable farming practices for unsustainable ones...

Kind of a trivial semantic argument right there. Whatever the cause, whatever you call it, it's not good for people who are going to be living in sand soon.

There is no such evidence. All that is needed is sensible traditional mixed farming. And a lot less journalistic blather about desertification that is not happening, global warming that is not happening, and how the one imaginary event is a consequence of the other imaginary event. And for well meaning idiots to stop subsidizing goats.

It would be nice if they practiced responsible farming, yes. Why isn't that happening already? Is there another problem upstream of unsustainable farming practices that's causing everyone to farm stupidly? Like maybe dumb economic systems that make it such that anyone who farms anything besides goats is quickly going to lose the farm and be replaced by someone who only raises goats?

I don't know if that's the case or not, but I do know that simple answers, like the one you just gave, never work on complex problems, like the one being discussed.

What nonsense (4, Funny)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27856943)

Where do they expect to get enough sand to build a wall 6000 km long?

 

ma18e (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856969)

could sink yo0r you to join the those uber-aashole the future of the

Sandtrout! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27856991)

Bring on the God Emperor!

"Many men have tried." "They tried and failed?" "They tried and died."

SiÃn Phillips and Frank Herbert FTW.

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