Sorry for being out-of-pocket. I was off doing what I do for a living which is covering stuff to write about.
This particular “stuff” was a UN Conference on Desertification in Israel’s Negev Desert. It was hosted by a leading Israeli research institute responsible for bringing us drip irrigation, desert fish farming, algae cultivation, and cutting edge solar harnessing techniques.
There were loads of experts and scientists from all over the place – Mongolia, Uganda (I guess we’re over the whole Entebbe thing, huh?), Mexico, Australia, Khazakistan (sans Sasha Baron Cohen), one Jordanian (his six colleagues were denied Visas) and a leading Palestinian Authority environmentalist who said Israel and Palestinian eco-types have been meeting behind the scenes for ages. The Arab World, regardless of dryland status, went unrepresented. Science and environment don’t cancel out politics.
Because the group was pro-earth, nice extras included a moonlit hike through a desert canyon and visits to Nabatean and Byzantine remains to gauge how civilizations in the BCE and first few centuries AD captured and stored water and constructed communities.
Conclusions? I don’t know enough to draw any. But the idea of cultivating what’s already in place i.e. using desert floor water tables for fish farming or encouraging eco-tourism is good. Conflict is bad (duh). Future wars may be over water, not oil.
Over and out. Enjoy the pickies from the archeological visit.