Skip to comments.Desertification, dust 'global threats'
Posted on 06/17/2005 2:49:36 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
DESERTIFICATION threatens to drive millions of people from their homes in coming decades while vast dust storms can damage the health of people continents away, an international report said today.
"Desertification has emerged as a global problem affecting everyone," said Zafar Adeel, assistant director of the UN University's water academy and a lead author of a report drawing on the work of 1360 scientists in 95 nations.
Two billion people live in drylands vulnerable to desertification, ranging from northern Africa to swathes of central Asia, he said.
And storms can lift dust from the Sahara Desert, for instance, and cause respiratory problems for people as far away as North America.
Over-grazing and over-planting of crops, swelling human populations and misuse of irrigation were contributing to desertification, the report said. It estimated that 10-20 per cent of drylands were already degraded.
Global warming, widely blamed on human emissions of heat-trapping gases from cars, factories and power plants, was likely to exacerbate the problems in coming decades by triggering more floods, droughts and heatwaves.
"Growing desertification worldwide threatens to swell by millions the number of poor forced to seek new homes and livelihoods," according to the report, part of a Millennium Ecosystem Assessment led by UN agencies and other groups.
"Desertification is potentially the most threatening ecosystem change impacting livelihoods of the poor," it said.
The report said 41 per cent of the world's land area was dryland, including most of Australia, the western part of North America and much of the Andean region of South America.
Desertification meant increasing health problems linked to dust, reduced farm production and poverty.
Infant mortality in drylands in developing nations averaged 54 children per 1000 live births in 2000, double the rate in other poor regions and 10 times the rate in industrial nations.
"An increase in desertification-related dust storms is widely considered to be a cause of ill-health - fever, coughing, sore eyes - during the dry season," it said.
And dust from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia could affect people as far away as Japan or Hawaii. Some scientists estimate that a billion tonnes of dust can be lifted from the Sahara region into the atmosphere every year.
Dust particles can also carry bacteria and fungi. Dust-borne microrganisms from Africa were believed to have damaged coral reefs in the Caribbean, said Uriel Safriel, another of the report's lead authors.
"Bedouins in Israel are known to be infected by spores of fungi and bacteria transported by dust," he said.
Some dust carries toxins like pesticides from around the Aral Sea.
And dust storms from Africa can damage plants' ability to grow as far away as Florida by muting the sunlight.
African dust, however, can also carry nutrients and is credited with helping forests to survive in the Amazon.
The report said that better management of crops, more careful irrigation and strategies to provide non-farming jobs for people living in drylands could help mute problems. But it was easier to prevent desertification than to reverse it.
The United States, for instance, failed fully to solve the 1930s Dust Bowl - caused by a combination of intensive farming and drought in states including Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. The problems resurfaced in the 1950s.
The only solution is to do away with the majority of the earth's population.
their corrupt leaders take tons of US aid, the common people won't learn not to cut down every tree in sight, have 3 dozen kids and 50 head of cattle that eat every green thing sprouting out of the ground!
am surprised more of the 3rd world isn't a desert yet...and here the liberals are squawking that we aren't giving enough and are discriminating against the 3rd worlders culture...
global warming is not the problem. global drying is.
Convert ocean water and irrigate the deserts. Destroy the deserts that are not wanted. There is enough water just desalt and spray.
"Convert ocean water and irrigate the deserts. Destroy the deserts that are not wanted. There is enough water just desalt and spray."
Oh no, that would destroy precious "drylands." Legislation is pending to protect these irreplaceable and unique biosystems from encroachment by humans (sarcasm).
Mostly it affects stubborn idiots who overgraze in p#!! poor countries with corrupt governments. Whereas, it really doesn't affect developed ones. Yet again another attempt to make regional issues into "global" ones and to take our money.
The late Sam Kinison had the right idea, "You people
live in a f'ing desert. Move to the food! MOVE TO THE FOOD!!'"
Desertification is defined as something caused by man's work, primarily agricultural, usually bad farming or grazing technique. It is nothing new, and it is not so bad in the US. Other regions of the world have it much worse than the US. How is Zimbabwe progressing in their usage of farmland now that they have kicked out those who know what they are doing?
"You people live in a f'ing desert. Move to the food! MOVE TO THE FOOD!!'"
I loved a good Kinison rant.
The ewackos are pushing more nuclear power in G8's.
'They' want more nukes? What is the world coming to?
More friends for NK and China.
I notice how they fastidiously avoid mentioning Communist China, where some of the most rapacious desertification in the world is taking place west of Peking in the northern provinces... merely an editorial quibble, I'm sure...</p>
Don't we all really get it by now? If the US has a Conservative in power, the US is endangering the world. If a Liberal is in power, well, at least we can be contained.
Desertification is a hoot. It wasn't too long ago that we were being criticized for eliminating deserts by irrigating land all over - the Sahara was supposed to be in danger.
I do admit that Americans changed the climate in places like LA and AZ when they moved there and tried to keep their NE lawns and gardens.
We can make a difference, and sometimes it's good, and sometimes not. But making it a political decision is worst for everyone and everything.