The massive expanse of sand and rock that is the Sahara Desert has a little-know but vital role in planet health: it provides critical nutrients for Earth’s largest rainforest—the Amazon.
Why the Amazon needs the Sahara
During the Sahara’s heavy wind storms, hundreds of millions of tons of particulate matter (a.k.a. dust) get blown across the Atlantic Ocean to South America. As the 27 million tons of dust settle, it provides valuable minerals for plants in the Amazon rainforest. NASA
The complex relationship between different ecosystems—like the Sahara and the Amazon—is a big reason why humans must be mindful when installing large man-made “solutions” and innovations.
For example, an idea like covering the Sahara in solar panels to generate power sounds good in theory. This approach could produce plenty of eco-friendly electricity, which would definitely help the environment, right? Not quite.
A blanket of solar panels covering the Sahara would cause massive shifts in the Sahara’s ecosystem and increase precipitation. This moisture would disrupt the Sahara dust cycle, choking a critical supply of nutrients for plants in the Amazon.
What it all means
Education, knowledge sharing, and honest research are vital in the quest for a healthy planet, because to do regeneration properly, an in-depth knowledge of the affected systems is crucial.