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Desertification What exactly is desertification Unfortunately there are many responses and many contradicting definitions Some say that it is permanent others say it is a reversible process There are even debates on whether the definition should include human involvement or not It seems that all that can be agreed on is that it is the most serious environmental problem facing Africa today Nsiah-Gyabaah Kwasi Environmental Degradation and Desertification in Ghana pg 27 At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Developments Earth Summit 1992 desertification was defined as land degradation in arid semi-arid and dry semi-humid areas resulting from various factors including climate variations and human activities Desertification Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential S J0180 wwwuiaorguniademostrj0180htm When pondering the terms desertification or desertified land our culture forms mental images of large dunes with sand slowing moving over them like in an ocean Perhaps a camel or two baking in the sun This romanticized idea is far from what scientists call desertification In real life desertification looks like an area of hard and cracked earth with sand blowing above In this scene you are more likely to see a nomad with emaciated cattle wandering the deserted plane in search of something to eat Not too romantic huh Desertification is more the destruction of the biological potential of the land or the creation of desert-like conditions in previously productive areas Nsiah-Gyabaah 28 There are many reasons for desertification The two most substantial are the recent droughts in Africa and humans trying to sustain themselves on marginal lands Glantz Michael H Drought Follows the Plow pg 35 More specifically the reasons for desertification and land degradation include climate changes overgrazing over-cropping deforestation and over-exploited water Mainguet Monique Desertification pg 66 Although it is hard to say exactly how much area has already been turned to desert there is a basic consensus among most scholars that estimates somewhere around 60 percent of
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