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Funding! ("I'm sure the article proposes something neat but how will we pay for it?!")
Alright alright ye jaded reader, first things first. International Tobin Tax on financial transactions. When working with Tobin Tax rate of 0.1% (as suggested by Nicolas Sarkozy), plenty of funding becomes available for megaprojects, especially those that are fundamentally transnational in nature. Overall amount of financial transactions has steadily been rising to be 70 times the official global GDP ($ 63.12 trillion in 2010). This allows a United Nations body receiving the tax to collect $4.5 trillion annually. That's substantially more than say, nominal GDP of Germany ($3.6 trillion) and the number will increase if Asian financial centers continue to expand to accommodate neighboring growth and to compete with London.
1) Promoting regional and global cooperation. Helping narrow the Arab North African and Black Central African geographic, cultural, and economic divide. Creating a breadbasket to be shared by over 10 large countries previously polarized by this divide. Thus...
2) Helping consolidate African Union as a political and economic block. Thus...
3) Allowing African Union to become a powerful pole in a multipolar world. A pole that is able to sustain its own population (which is set to double) and to be in a better negotiating position when exchanging natural resources for advanced machinery from other continental unions. And of course...
4) Wiping out hunger close to its source and creating food export potential for nearby Indian Subcontinent and parts of Asia. Allowing more land to accommodate continent's industrialization and population rise that comes with it. Thus ultimately...
5) Lowering chances of major regional or global wars, reducing chances of imperialism 2.0 on African soil, and creating additional mechanisms necessary for some form planetary governance (that finally brings about world peace and significant reduction in weapon systems expenditures).
Global Political Feasibility
Pushing for a creation of global Tobin Tax (or any transnational tax) collecting body in the UN security council has primarily Britain as an obstacle. Britain has historically relied upon financial parasitism and used various economic and physical pressures against societies that attempt rapid infrastructural development. Small financial centers like Singapore can be browbeat into compliance via combined pressure of the Security Council. Britain can be pressured by making it clear that its soft power projection ability will be severely damaged for decades to come if it obstructs life saving funding mechanisms for transnational projects. It is way past time for majority of the world's population to make it clear to London that it can no longer defy major developmental powers without consequences. Of course Britain, being militarily occupied by United States, can also be pressured in more crude 20th century ways. At the very least, Britain needs to agree to not interfere in transnational infrastructure projects.
Even a partial planetary funding mechanism for arable land increase will find eager sponsors in New Dehli and Beijing. Chinese government is already beginning to implement decades long North to South river reversal project as well as efforts to stop and reverse the spread of the Gobi desert. They will have the mass workforce, expertise (quantitative edge versus Western qualitative), and machinery to contribute in Africa for resource swaps. India's interests in helping construct a breadbasket in the Sahara is self explanatory.
Regional Political and Physical Feasibility
Sahara desert region has the least amount of "not in my back yard" mentality, the least amount of people living in the desert's overall periphery, and less potential for great power rivalry hampering the terraforming efforts (as opposed to say, Saudi or Iranian deserts or the Central Asian plains by the Aral Sea). The nation states touching the desert are generally poorly armed and can be collectively pressured to cooperate with sufficient incentives (unfortunately appeals to wipe out hunger on the continent don't work that well). Over 25 countries are directly affected by the Sahara question. Once the process begins, Sub-Saharan African elites may begin to take over and get creative with it (possibly partially being inspired by the way South American societies are collectively getting out from beneath the USA boot.) Nearly double digit GDP growth in many African states over the last decade helps in this regard.
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Southern Europe (France/Italy in particular) have an interest in a stable expanding North Africa that provides a market and corporate opportunities rather than refugees and illegal migrants. France will be looking for ways to expand its influence/leadership into the area to compensate for Germany's present and future expansion of influence/leadership in central Europe. It will be proper since Sarkozy was the first Western world leader to talk about the sheer possibilities of global Tobin Tax.
Process (steps should be conducted simultaneously)
local transnational projects already in process. Even a sliver of Tobin Tax money can dramatically speed up the process of drawing a permanent line in the sand (ha ha) by bringing world class technical personnel, equipment, and desert coordination. This would be the fight against the 1930s Dust Bowl on steroids. Thousands of kilometers of trees (and possibly genetically engineered specialized vegetation) and bacteria hardened dunes will create a permanent border.
2) Creating ocean fed artificial great lakes (think Lake Nasser supersized) at the furthest extent of sea level parity ground. This will feed rain clouds that travel deeper into the Sahara.
3) Connecting fresh water bodies of Lake Nasser and Lake Chad by a canal to improve economic communication within eastern Sahara region and to bring economic development closer to terraforming zones. The task itself it just 4-5 times the scale of Erie Canal undertaken in early 19th century. Additionally there must be proper understanding and measurement of the enormous quantity of water under the Sahara and making use of it to supply working settlements in Northeastern Sahara.
4) Making use of bacterial dune hardening as canal and artificial lake "edges" to protect new construction from sand and to prevent sand storm formation. Only a fifth of the Sahara has sand dune formation problem and it can be decisively solved via mathematical "cutting" in proper locations. Making use of the Niger river to feed a series of artificial lakes as well in western parts of the desert.
6) Mass introduction of hardy species, fungi, and plants into reclaimed areas to create new ecologies.
PS: The word terraforming is more marketable than geoforming or geoengineering as it touches on "space race on earth" concept mentioned in the previous article.