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It's Time for the Negev to Bloom

Back when David Ben-Gurion was the Prime Minister of Israel, one of his major areas of policy was the development of the Negev desert. Covering almost 60% of Israel’s geography, the Negev is home to some of Israel’s most wonderful archaeological sites and natural resources. From the cliffs of the world’s largest natural crater to the glistening ruins of the citadel at Masada, the beauty is boundless. Even with all of this sun-toasted goodness scattered throughout the sands, the overwhelming majority of the desert is, after thirty years after the death of Ben-Gurion, completely undeveloped. With every year that passes the untapped resources of the Negev are wasted. As the late Prime Minister emphasized, the potential is just too good to pass up. For ages, I have been day dreaming ways to utilize this tremendous asset. When one thinks about it, trying to build up such a harsh environment is a both an interesting and difficult problem. In light of recent advances in the area of solar energy, I believe that there now exists a feasible way to work towards the critical mass needed to create an incentive for desert expansion. Such an approach is one of the most robust because it turns the most oppressive barrier to development into the primary resource of the space. By harnessing the power of the sun, Israel would be able to dramatically increase the national power production without damaging the environment. The first technology, a solar cell with a 40% efficiency, was announced just this week. The cell utilizes special glass and circuitry to become the most efficient solar cell in existence. While these may be expensive, other types of plastic cells can help to offset the cost. The tops of buildings should be covered by cheap, flexible cells to optimize the sun-exposed surface area. As for everything else, paint it all. Use a photo voltaic paint to cover every rock, sidewalk and car within reach. Even if it’s not the most efficient, we can still maximize power production by exploiting every exposed centimeter. Once there is enough industry and general activity in the area, it should be enough to attract new immigrants and ignite the chain-reaction of growth. It’s time to make the Negev bloom.

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