Desertification is a dilemma facing our planet

Desertification has become a threat to land, humanity, and the climate, and arable land is shrinking into arid, semi-arid, and dry land.

Desertification is a dilemma facing our planet
16 June 2024   05:44

June 17th marks the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994. This is in order to shed light on this phenomenon and the need to confront its repercussions.

Desertification means a decline in soil fertility in arid, semi-arid, dry and sub-humid areas, a process of destruction or degradation of the Earth’s vital energy that leads to conditions similar to desert conditions and is a manifestation of the widespread degradation of environmental systems, leading to a decrease in the Earth’s biological energy and thus to a negative impact on the maintenance of human existence.

The reason for desertification

Several factors contribute to desertification, both human and natural. First, natural factors such as climate change and lack of rainfall can contribute to desertification, leading to more droughts. Increasing droughts and rates of soil erosion and salinization. Forest fires and sand dunes encroaching on agricultural lands and wetlands also contribute to reducing agricultural spaces and increasing desertification.

Wars and military operations further exacerbate desertification, as dominant states in conflicts use natural resources to dig trenches, lay mines, detonate installations, and use chemical weapons. This is what the Turkish occupying state does to the nature of Kurdistan.

The drying of wetlands and the razing of agricultural land for development projects and the construction of housing and urban areas are also important factors influencing the increase in desertification. There are many examples, such as the bombing of orchards by the Turkish occupying state in the occupied city of Afrin and the construction of settlements within it in cooperation with some states. On 11 June, the Qatari Red Crescent acknowledged that 13 settlements in northern Syria had been completed in cooperation with Turkey.

States under threat of desertification, according to United Nations data

It is estimated that 46 out of 54 countries in Africa are vulnerable to desertification, and 38 out of 48 countries in Asia are currently affected.

The drylands cover 33.8% of the Northern Mediterranean countries, about 69% of Spain, 66% of Cyprus, and between 16% and 62% in Greece, Portugal, Italy and France.

In the Middle East, entire Arab states are deserted lands, such as Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, while ten countries have desertification rates of 60 to 98 percent, such as Egypt, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, and Morocco. More than 50 percent of its territory is threatened by desertification, such as Somalia, Syria, and Iraq.

According to the report issued by the United Nations in 2023, based on data from 101 states that are parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 1.84 billion people around the world are vulnerable to drought, some of whom are prone to severe or extreme drought. This means that almost one in four people on the planet is prone to drought.

The burden of global drought is mainly on the poorest, with 85% of those affected by drought living in middle- and low-income countries.

The report showed that global drought led to forced migration, with 98 per cent of the 32.6 million new disaster-induced migrations in 2022 being the result of weather-related climate changes such as storms, floods, and droughts.

Effects on the environment

Drought generally affects the terrestrial environment, such as the impact on homogeneous ecosystems, leading to the migration or even extinction of all living organisms. It can endanger primary energy sources. If the temperature increases by 3°C above pre-industrial levels during this century, it is expected that the world's population exposed to severe drought will rise from 3% to 8%.

High temperatures will at some point affect 90% of the world's population, which in turn will weaken the ability of human beings to take appropriate measures to cope with worsening climate changes.

Desertification affects the environment, causing loss of biodiversity and reducing the productivity of pastures and agriculture. It also has a political and social impact, leading to conflicts and disturbances.

T/ Satt.