Humanity and Desertification

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Desertification is the procedure whereby land areas are initially supporting plant growth, and human economic activities continually become deserts. The method is rendering many surfaces of the Earth uninhabitable and displacing communities originally residing in such areas. It's significantly reduced arable and pastoral lands and caused land-related conflicts between groups that are moving from the deserts and the indigenous communities. Deadly tribal and/or religious conflicts witnessed in Nigeria recently are attributed to disputes over land use involving the southern agrarian societies and the northern pastoral nomads. Based on the Aljazeera news bulletin of 31st March 2010, the Sahara desert is to blame for forcing the rural communities southwards, searching for pasture, ultimately causing the conflicts.

Environmentalists and some climate scientists are blaming desertification on human economic activities. These groups maintain that by deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, humans are adding to global warming and desertification. They contend that humans can mitigate desertification by planting more trees and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2.

As hot deserts spread, many rivers and lakes are drying up in all the world's five continents (WWF 2007, Vietfun 2009). However, the magnitude of desertification and its history raise questions as to whether humans are responsible because of this phenomenon. And also, this raises another question as to whether the methods being utilized in combating desertification are appropriate.

Based on global Desertification-The Israeli Experience,' "desertification is nothing new... desertification was part of the natural development of our planet." The United States Geological Society (USGS) concurs thus; "the world's great deserts were formed by natural processes interacting over long intervals of time. During these types of times, deserts have cultivated and shrunk independent of human activities."

In the first ages, human populations were relatively low, which is why reason it had been possible to reside as hunters and gatherers. The reduced population meant little pressure was exerted on the surrounding, and it is not likely that their action caused deserts to occur. From history, we learn that folks have lived in deserts through nomadic lifestyles. The nomadic people adapted themselves to desert life by keeping livestock and migrating from regions worst hit by drought to relatively better areas searching for water and pasture. There's no evidence that pastoralist communities once practiced crop farming in the process of which they cleared the forests and later changed their lifestyles. Neither has it been observed that folks change from crop farming to nomadic or pastoral lifestyles.

Places do not turn into deserts mainly because forests have now been cleared for crop farming. Instead, they continue to aid plants similar to they'd support forests. Its actual deforestation leads to soil erosion. But soil erosion isn't desertification. A location can not develop into a desert because its topsoils have now been washed away. Deserts occur because of excess heat, which dries the soil and kills its nutrients.

Before blaming desertification on human economic activities, it is necessary to spot what caused deserts in the first ages and if and when these forces stopped acting. If they're still working, then we have to know as to the extent they're responsible, and as to the area, humans are capable if indeed they are.