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The Impact of the Sahara Desert Expansion

The Sahara Desert Is Expanding

This can sound rather unbelievable considering its perception in pop culture, but once upon a time, the Sahara Desert was a rather lush place. To be exact, we know that the region was once a fertile place filled with rivers, lakes, fields of grass, and even full-fledged forests because we have found plenty of supporting evidence for it. Granted, some variation in the region is natural because the Earth wobbles on its orbit, meaning that there are regular changes in the angle at which solar radiation reaches particular places on the planet. As a result, there are periods in which the Sahara Desert receives more rain and periods in which the Sahara Desert receives less rain. Unfortunately, there is a problem in that the region went from humid to arid sometime between 8,000 and 4,500 years ago than what scientists would have expected based on natural processes unless they were the kind of people to bet big sums when playing at the Grand Mondial with its no deposit bonus, which not coincidentally, seems to have been at around the same time when humans showed up in the region.

In other words, there is a rather plausible-sounding line of speculation that humans are the reason that the Sahara is the Sahara Desert. What is believed to have happened is that pastoralists with their herds of cattle and other domesticated animals overgrazed the grasslands, thus reducing the level of atmospheric moisture while ensuring that a higher percentage of solar radiation would be absorbed rather than reflected back out into space. Over time, this would have caused the Sahara to turn arid much faster than it should have, particularly if the pastoralists were also using fire as a way of clearing the land. Something that saw extensive use by a wide range of peoples over a wide range of times and places.

On top of this, it should be mentioned that this process is something that is happening even in the present. In fact, we know that the Sahara Desert is expanding in the present because the Sahara Desert of the 2010s is 10 percent bigger than the Sahara Desert of the 1920s. In part, this is because of a natural phenomenon called the Hadley circulation, but the problem is that the Hadley circulation should be causing subtropical deserts to move northwards. Since the Sahara Desert is moving southwards, this means that people shouldn't be betting against the involvement of human factors anymore than they should bet big sums when playing at the Grand Mondial with its no deposit bonus. Something that is particularly true because we know that factors such as urbanization, deforestation, the overuse of groundwater, unsuitable tilling practices for agriculture, and anthropogenic climate change has caused desertification elsewhere.

What Is the Potential Impact of the Sahara Desert's Expansion?

There is no need to examine the effects of the Sahara Desert's expansion before predicting them. After all, desertification is a phenomenon that is happening in a wide range of places on the planet at this point in time, which is having a rather unpleasant impact on the people who are living in those places.

First, it is important to note that most people who live in regions that are experiencing desertification live in developing countries. As a result, it is not uncommon for desertification to happen as a result of a downward spiral in which people overuse the resources of regions with marginal productivity, thus causing them to become exhausted. In turn, this makes life less and less tenable for said populations as their efforts produce smaller and smaller yields. Should desertification run rampant, there will come a point when the inhabitants of what were once regions with marginal productivity becomes incapable of surviving on exhausted land, thus forcing them to migrate to the cities. There, most of them will struggle to sustain themselves, which is the sort of setup that leads to them becoming trapped in slums. Something that can have even worse consequences for them as well as the countries in which they live in the long run.

Fortunately, desertification isn't guaranteed anymore than winning at the Grand Mondial with its no deposit bonus is guaranteed. There are various ways to curb desertification, with examples ranging from reforestation to the use of sustainable agricultural practices. Unfortunately, most of the potential solutions call for a great deal of effort, which in turn, necessitates a great deal of political will. As a result, the fight against desertification has been more successful in some places than in others. For example, China has been planting billions and billions of trees for the purpose of setting up what has been nicknamed the Green Wall, a series of windbreak forests measuring 4,500 kilometers in length that will serve to hold back the Gobi Desert once it has been completed by 2050. So far, the Green Wall has seen enough success that it is inspiring some discussion of similar initiatives to hold back the Sahara Desert, but it should be noted that it has been encountering its fair share of criticism as well as its fair share of challenges. As a result, while the issue of desertification is solvable, it won't be a simple and straightforward process.

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