JF Ptak Science Books Post 2597
It is not often one reads about creating an inland sea with trade routes between "Algeria and French West Africa", It is part of the creation of a vast Saharan sea, half of the size of the Mediterranean. I read about this version of the plan in an article by G.A. Thompson in an issue of the Scientific American for 19121, though as it turns out it was not the first time someone published on this fantastical idea. In this version, Prof. Etchegoven proposes a 50-mile long canal that would be built from the Mediterranean inland to a suitably low place and them well, the desert would get, well, filled up. The reasoning here was to make Africa accessible those with the money to take advantage of the situation, to establish trade routes, make Christianity more available to whomever it might confront, and also for "enhancing the value as a place for colonization by Europeans". In reviewing the proposal Mr. Thompson didn't see much danger or blowback or environmental issues--it was an outlook that was taken to task about a month later in a review in Nature2, which found his critique rather too-rosy.
In any event there have been plans like this reaching back at least into the late 19th century, a good example being The Flooding of the Sahara: An Account of the Proposed Plan for Opening ... written by Donald Mackenzie and published in 18773. Another significant proposal was made by Francoise Elie Roudaire (1836-1885) in his "An Inland Sea in Algiers", printed in 1874,m which was an idea he shared with Ferdinand de Lesseps. Actually it was the Roudaire work that seems to have been the basis for some of Jules Verne's last published work, L'Invasion de la Mer (1905) which took place in the 1930's and which made a very similar proposal for the Sahara--except in this version nature intervenes with an enormous earthquake, pretty much accomplishing immediately what it would have taken humans many decades to do. In any event, this is a good example of the Big Techno Think, though it wasn't necessarily a very good idea.