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World's land turning to desert at alarming speed, United Nations warns
WCCO 4 ^ | 6/15/04 | Chris Hawley - AP

Posted on 06/15/2004 1:47:08 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

UNITED NATIONS (AP) The world is turning to dust, with lands the size of Rhode Island becoming desert wasteland every year and the problem threatening to send millions of people fleeing to greener countries, the United Nations says.

One-third of the Earth's surface is at risk, driving people into cities and destroying agriculture in vast swaths of Africa. Thirty-one percent of Spain is threatened, while China has lost 36,000 square miles to desert an area the size of Indiana since the 1950s.

This week the United Nations marks the 10th anniversary of the Convention to Combat Desertification, a plan aimed at stopping the phenomenon. Despite the efforts, the trend seems to be picking up speed doubling its pace since the 1970s.

``It's a creeping catastrophe,'' said Michel Smitall, a spokesman for the U.N. secretariat that oversees the 1994 accord. ``Entire parts of the world might become uninhabitable.''

Slash-and-burn agriculture, sloppy conservation, overtaxed water supplies and soaring populations are mostly to blame. But global warming is taking its toll, too.

The United Nations is holding a ceremony in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday to mark World Day to Combat Desertification, and will hold a meeting in Brazil this month to take stock of the problem.

The warning comes as a controversial movie, ``The Day After Tomorrow'' is whipping up interest in climate change, and as rivers and lakes dry up in the American West, giving Americans a taste of what's to come elsewhere.

The United Nations says:

From the mid-1990s to 2000, 1,374 square miles have turned into deserts each year an area about the size of Rhode Island. That's up from 840 square miles in the 1980s, and 624 square miles during the 1970s.

By 2025, two-thirds of arable land in Africa will disappear, along with one-third of Asia's and one-fifth of South America's.

Some 135 million people equivalent to the populations of France and Germany combined are at risk of being displaced.

Most at risk are dry regions on the edges of deserts places like sub-Saharan Africa or the Gobi Desert in China, where people are already struggling to eke out a living from the land.

As populations expand, those regions have become more stressed. Trees are cut for firewood, grasslands are overgrazed, fields are over-farmed and lose their nutrients, water becomes scarcer and dirtier.

Technology can make the problem worse. In parts of Australia, irrigation systems are pumping up salty water and slowly poisoning farms. In Saudi Arabia, herdsmen can use water trucks instead of taking their animals from oasis to oasis but by staying in one place, the herds are getting bigger and eating all the grass.

In Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, coastal resorts are swallowing up water that once moistened the wilderness. Many farmers in those countries still flood their fields instead of using more miserly ``drip irrigation,'' and the resulting shortages are slowly baking the life out of the land.

The result is a patchy ``rash'' of dead areas, rather than an easy-to-see expansion of existing deserts, scientists say. These areas have their good times and bad times as the weather changes. But in general, they are getting bigger and worse-off.

``It's not as dramatic as a flood or a big disaster like an earthquake,'' said Richard Thomas of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Aleppo, Syria. ``There are some bright spots and hot spots. But overall, there is a trend toward increasing degradation.''

The trend is speeding up, but it has been going on for centuries, scientists say. Fossilized pollen and seeds, along with ancient tools like grinding stones, show that much of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and North Africa were once green. The Sahara itself was a savanna, and rock paintings show giraffes, elephants and cows once lived there.

Global warming contributes to the problem, making many dry areas drier, scientists say. In the last century, average temperatures have risen over 1 degree Fahrenheit worldwide, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

As for the American Southwest, it is too early to tell whether its six-year drought could turn to something more permanent. But scientists note that reservoir levels are dropping as cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas expand.

``In some respects you may have greener vegetation showing up in people's yards, but you may be using water that was destined for the natural environment,'' said Stuart Marsh of the University of Arizona's Office of Arid Lands Studies. ``That might have an effect on the biodiversity surrounding that city.''

The Global Change Research Program says global warming could eventually make the Southwest wetter but it will also cause more extreme weather, meaning harsher droughts that could kill vegetation. Now, the Southwest drought has become so severe that even the sagebrush is dying.

``The lack of water and the overuse of water, that is going to be a threat to the United States,'' Thomas said. ``In other parts of the world, the problem is poverty that causes people to overuse the land. Most of these ecological systems have tipping points, and once you go past them, things go downhill.''

On the Web:

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: http://www.unccd.int

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas : http://www.icarda.org/

University of Arizona Office of Arid Lands Studies: http://ag.arizona.edu/OALS/oals/oals.html


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: alarmingspeed; amazon; chickenlittle; desertification; envoronment; globalwarming; refoliation; sahara; samkinison; simpleminds; theskyisfalling; turningtodesert; unitednations; warns; weredoomeddoomed; worldsland
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1 posted on 06/15/2004 1:47:10 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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To: NormsRevenge

Dust to dust...


2 posted on 06/15/2004 1:49:08 PM PDT by traumer
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To: NormsRevenge
China has lost 36,000 square miles to desert an area the size of Indiana since the 1950s.

I read that as "India" and almost had a heart attack.

3 posted on 06/15/2004 1:50:23 PM PDT by johnfrink
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To: johnfrink

You know, I did the same thing.


4 posted on 06/15/2004 1:51:33 PM PDT by Monty22
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To: NormsRevenge
But global warming is taking its toll, too.

Global warming leads to increased rainfall which causes desertification.

All outcomes prove the theory as it is constantly altered to conform to the facts which prove it correct.

It’s the world’s first indestructible scientific theory, which means it’s the best.

5 posted on 06/15/2004 1:51:47 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: traumer

The United Nations Credibility is also turning to dust at an alarming rate.


6 posted on 06/15/2004 1:51:47 PM PDT by Samurai_Jack
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To: NormsRevenge

How much is this projected to cost American taxpayers?


7 posted on 06/15/2004 1:52:35 PM PDT by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")
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To: NormsRevenge

Maybe we need to start killing some people.


8 posted on 06/15/2004 1:52:44 PM PDT by expatguy (Fallujah Delenda Est!!)
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To: NormsRevenge

"Thirty-one percent of Spain is threatened "
And Islam will take care of the remaining 69%....


9 posted on 06/15/2004 1:53:40 PM PDT by traumer
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To: NormsRevenge
The answer is simple: we have to increase C02 emissions to encourage plants to grow in those desolate regions.
10 posted on 06/15/2004 1:54:48 PM PDT by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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To: traumer

We have no dust down here in Texas. Here north of Houston we're ahead on yearly rainfall by about 13"-- 2" today.


11 posted on 06/15/2004 1:55:03 PM PDT by Clara Lou
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To: dead
"Global warming leads to increased rainfall which causes desertification."

Yes, I thought global warming was involved with the "greenhouse effect" which increases rainfall, melts the icecaps, and causes flooding. So, if I've got it right, global warming is responsible for increased rainfall, increased droughts, desertification, flooding, and a European ice age.
12 posted on 06/15/2004 1:55:44 PM PDT by Steve_Seattle
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To: expatguy

Can we say..... birth control?


13 posted on 06/15/2004 1:55:55 PM PDT by Die_Hard Conservative Lady
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To: azhenfud

And the UN-sanctioned response:

How much will it cost our grandchildren if the US doesn't give the UN money to fight this problem?


14 posted on 06/15/2004 1:56:06 PM PDT by cryptical
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To: NormsRevenge
Las Vegas, Palm Springs, etc....Tell the greenies to get the hell out of the way and let the industrialists have at it.
We have the technology, these whackos do everything they can to stop progress, and then blame everything on the people they stopped.
15 posted on 06/15/2004 1:56:56 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS
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To: NormsRevenge
Desertification, global cooling, meteors or bolides and women and minorities hit hardest?

Woe is us!
We are doomed!

16 posted on 06/15/2004 1:56:59 PM PDT by Publius6961 (I don't do diplomacy either.)
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To: traumer
From the mid-1990s to 2000, 1,374 square miles have turned into deserts each year an area about the size of Rhode Island.

Now, if we can only figure out a way to turn the liberals into sand. Where's Simon Barsinister when you need him?

17 posted on 06/15/2004 1:57:27 PM PDT by ChuckShick (He's clerking for me...)
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To: NormsRevenge

And all these problems can be traced to George W. Bush, right?


18 posted on 06/15/2004 1:57:44 PM PDT by babyface00
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To: NormsRevenge

That's okay, my backyard is becoming a swamplike jungle. I'm doing my part.


19 posted on 06/15/2004 1:57:44 PM PDT by TX Bluebonnet
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To: dead
Your skepticism only proves the theory is correct. It is presumed to increase world skepticism levels to catastrophic heights, thereby increasing all of the phenomena predicted.

Unless the opposite happens, which will verify the theory even more.

20 posted on 06/15/2004 1:58:41 PM PDT by keithtoo (Please remove all Kerry-on luggage from your forehead compartments.)
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To: NormsRevenge

The world is turning to dust,

WHERE? I haven't been able to put my boat in the water this year because it KEEPS RAINING and the river is a mess.


21 posted on 06/15/2004 1:59:19 PM PDT by Dasaji (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...)
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To: HEY4QDEMS

I think the answer is private property ownership. No one cares about land they don't own, unless they can manage to get government funds for it.


22 posted on 06/15/2004 2:03:09 PM PDT by I still care
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To: NormsRevenge

Ive burned up two submersible pumps keeping my well pit dry this year. If Michigan is a desert, I don't even want to know what a swamp is.


23 posted on 06/15/2004 2:03:57 PM PDT by cripplecreek (you tell em i'm commin.... and hells commin with me.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Breaking news to another college freshman class.


24 posted on 06/15/2004 2:06:20 PM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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To: NormsRevenge

Oh no...guess we better let the UN take over all the worlds land so they can 'save us'
from disaster....
we better give them all our money and possessions and all our freedom so they can 'better manage all of humanity' than individual humans could ever mangage themselves...


25 posted on 06/15/2004 2:08:27 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: NormsRevenge

If the UN has some buckets, they can get the water in my basement.


26 posted on 06/15/2004 2:09:38 PM PDT by MediaMole
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To: Publius6961
"You live in a desert! You know what it's going to a be a hundred years from now? It's going to be a ------- desert! We have deserts in America we just don't live in them!"

< /kinison>



Sorry, it's the first thing that popped into my mind.

On the other hand, it may dry out enough THIS MONTH so that we can mow our lawn. *crossing fingers*

27 posted on 06/15/2004 2:10:35 PM PDT by Watery Tart (If only Madonna went to as much trouble to take a novel position when it comes to war....)
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To: traumer

Sam Kinnison blames hunger on the desert, for those who live there.


28 posted on 06/15/2004 2:11:57 PM PDT by gathersnomoss
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To: NormsRevenge

The human race was dyin' out
Noone left to scream and shout
People walking on the moon
Smog will get you pretty soon

Everyone was hanging out
Hanging up and hanging down
Hanging in and holding fast
Hope our little world will last

Yeah, along came Mr. Goodtrips
Looking for a new a ship
Come on, people better climb on board
Come on, baby, now we're going home
Ship of fools, ship of fools

The human race was dyin' out
Noone left to scream and shout
People walking on the moon
Smog will get you pretty soon
Ship of fools, ship of fools
Ship of fools, ship of fools
Ship of fools, ship of fools


29 posted on 06/15/2004 2:12:10 PM PDT by frithguild ("W" is the Black Ice President - underestimated until the left completely loses traction.)
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To: NormsRevenge
World Day to Combat Desertification

Party time!!

30 posted on 06/15/2004 2:13:12 PM PDT by fat city (Julius Rosenberg's soviet code name was "Liberal")
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To: Clara Lou
I haven't seen a dust storm here in Texas since the mid fifties. Apparently dust-bowl conditions can be reversed when proper methods are used. Living here in San Antonio, on the edge of the Great Western Desert, even we're pretty damp also right now.

(sarcasm) In spite of the obvious tremendous increase in global warming.
31 posted on 06/15/2004 2:14:02 PM PDT by rock58seg (Communists and liberals read Marx and Lenin, Conservatives understand them. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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To: NormsRevenge
Even if you grant the UN points (and I would not be quick to do so), what is not said is very important. Population growth rates are falling over most of the globe--it is undergoing a crash in some areas. Agricultural output grows as technology is applied. Finally, the spread of capitalism holds great hope for the more efficient use of current resources.

Notice the report makes no recommendation for a solution to the "problem" they cite. Why not? Because the UN socialist bureaucrats would favor the elimination of the capitalist economic system, the strangling of the economy via energy controls, and the forced reduction in population via abortion, euthanasia, mandatory birth control, and genetic genocide. Not a pretty picture. No wonder the AP wouldn't ask the obvious questions.

32 posted on 06/15/2004 2:15:23 PM PDT by Faraday
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To: Clara Lou

We are running at 5" above normal here in Ohio with another 1 to 2 inches of rain expected tonight. The corn and soybean crops (in non-flooded fields) are looking great. I guess this means we should pay more taxes due to our good fortune. The UN will soon blame us for controlling the weather.


33 posted on 06/15/2004 2:15:30 PM PDT by ohioman
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To: NormsRevenge
Is this before or after Global Warming floods the Earth by melting the Polar Ice Caps?

(Which, incidentally has to wait in line behind the Global Warming Ice Age.)

34 posted on 06/15/2004 2:17:33 PM PDT by been_lurking
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To: johnfrink

I'm happy to inform you (and all others) that India has acutally increased its green space from 17% to 23% over two decades................
At least in one area, India does better than China


35 posted on 06/15/2004 2:18:47 PM PDT by razoroccam (read Germs of War to know the real armageddon)
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To: NormsRevenge

I though L. Ron Hubbard was nuts.


36 posted on 06/15/2004 2:22:33 PM PDT by dasboot (<img src="XXX">)
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To: NormsRevenge
The world is turning to dust, with lands the size of Rhode Island becoming desert wasteland every year... the United Nations says.

(sigh) Fine. Whatever. How much do you want this time?

37 posted on 06/15/2004 2:24:45 PM PDT by yankeedame ("Born with the gift of laughter & a sense that the world was mad.")
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To: NormsRevenge

source=http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nerc.html

Today's regions that are classified as 'desert biomes':

Source=http://www.aptoshs.net/~agoldenk/Melissa%20Buron/desert%20page

Conclusion: Things were once much worse

==========================================

Present total land surface area = 57,500,000 sq miles
Non-desert area = 6/7*57,500,000= 49,286,000 sq miles
Area lost to desert = 1374 sq miles/year (0.002%/yr)
Conclusion: In 1000 years, at this rate, we will lose 3% of non-desert land to desertification.

==========================================

This is natural, and is no cause for alarm

38 posted on 06/15/2004 2:25:05 PM PDT by kidd
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To: NormsRevenge

Well, look on the bright side. Now there will be more places for all those baby boomers to retire to.


39 posted on 06/15/2004 2:26:05 PM PDT by Junior (Love isn't always on time. Sometimes you have to pay for it up front.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Sure hasn't stopped people from moving to Arizona and Nevada.


40 posted on 06/15/2004 2:27:13 PM PDT by Natural Law
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To: TX Bluebonnet
That's okay, my backyard is becoming a swamplike jungle. I'm doing my part.

Same here. I've been trying to pour the foundation on my new home for two weeks. There's knee deep water in all the trenches. I'd be happy to donate this water for free to the UN.
41 posted on 06/15/2004 2:27:39 PM PDT by zencat (Visit my profile for MAGNETIC Bush/Cheney '04 bumper stickers!)
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To: NormsRevenge
Fossilized pollen and seeds, along with ancient tools like grinding stones, show that much of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and North Africa were once green. The Sahara itself was a savanna, and rock paintings show giraffes, elephants and cows once lived there.

So, this process probably started well before humans made any significant impact on the environment.

42 posted on 06/15/2004 2:27:45 PM PDT by Modernman ("I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members" -Groucho Marx)
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Weren't most modern day deserts forests in the past? But maybe I'm remembering my earth science of 30 years ago incorrectly.


43 posted on 06/15/2004 2:28:28 PM PDT by Dutch Boy
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To: xm177e2
The answer is simple: we have to increase C02 emissions to encourage plants to grow in those desolate regions.

LOL!Good one.

44 posted on 06/15/2004 2:28:58 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: kidd

That points out a problem with the Bering land bridge that people supposedly walked across last Ice Age. It was a thousand miles of desert. A major expedition might make it across, but a hunting party would not be interested.


45 posted on 06/15/2004 2:31:57 PM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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To: I still care

That's exactly what the Brits did with the 18th Century(?)Enclosures Act, which solved the problem of overgrazing on common land ("The Tragedy of the Commons").


46 posted on 06/15/2004 2:32:27 PM PDT by expatpat
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To: NormsRevenge
From the mid-1990s to 2000, 1,374 square miles have turned into deserts each year an area about the size of Rhode Island

Lets see. The earth has 57,308,738 square miles of land mass. Say 10 million of that is already desert, so over 47 million habitable. At a rate of 1,374 miles a year turning into desert, in 34,000 years we're looking at a disaster starring a very very old Dennis Quaid in, "The Day After Tomorrow...34,000 Years From Now!"

47 posted on 06/15/2004 2:32:39 PM PDT by Bommer (RIP Ronald Reagan!)
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To: NormsRevenge

The UN could always start a "sand for food" program.


48 posted on 06/15/2004 2:32:47 PM PDT by auboy
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To: cryptical
How much will it cost our grandchildren if the US doesn't give the UN money to fight this problem?

Oh, brother! And how much will it cost our grandchildren if this U.N. announced crisis du jour turns out to be nothing more than a red herring to distract folks from the U.N. "Oil-For-Food" scandal, and money that might have been spent on medicinal research, technology, the arts and science -- things that would have raised the quality of our grandchildren's lives -- instead vanished,once again,down the bureaucratic rat hole?

49 posted on 06/15/2004 2:33:59 PM PDT by yankeedame ("Born with the gift of laughter & a sense that the world was mad.")
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To: Dutch Boy

The Sahara was green and inhabited during the Ice Age. It rained, there were rivers and lakes. It rained in Egypt so much they didn't rely on the Nile or its flooding.


50 posted on 06/15/2004 2:35:33 PM PDT by RightWhale (Destroy the dark; restore the light)
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