Desertification; land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

It’s no secret that our beautiful planet is on its knees. Forests are burning, oceans are acidifying, ice caps are melting – we are currently experiencing a 6th major extinction event. As we hurtle towards this critical climate crossroads, the decisions we make collectively will determine not only the future of our species but the entire planet.

The continual destruction of wild habitats and ecosystems across the globe is worsening at an exponential rate. Desertification is without a doubt one of the most damaging forms of degradation, transforming once arable and fertile land into sandy wastelands that can no longer support vegetation or plant cultivation. As the population of Homo sapiens persistently expands and global temperatures continue to rise, larger areas of land are becoming vulnerable to desertification – according to UNESCO, over two-thirds of the planet’s total land surface is now susceptible.

While desertification is a serious issue across the entire globe, areas most at risk include overpopulated and poor regions (Asia and Africa). The endless need for more food and an overwhelming lack of education concerning these issues create a vicious cycle. Communities will leach land to its death, forcing them to migrate and repeat the process indefinitely.

“In many countries, desertification means a decline in soil fertility, a reduction in vegetation cover – especially grass cover – and more invasive shrub species. Practically speaking, the consequences of this are less available land for grazing, and less productive soils. Ecosystems start to look different as more drought tolerant shrubs invade what used to be grasslands and more bare soil is exposed.” –Dr Katerina Michaelides

However, this is certainly not just an issue within developing countries. Shockingly, 40 percent of the continental US is now vulnerable to desertification with industrialised agriculture as the main culprit. And who could forget The City of Lost Wages? Pumping obscene amounts of fresh groundwater into sparkling cities filled with colossal hotels and water features doesn’t really seem like a sustainable use of depleting water resources now, does it?

Look, this is a huge concern – But I don’t want to be all doom and gloom and while I may sound like a griping pessimist, there are potential solutions out there. The only problem is we are running out of time – if we do not act now and come together to tackle these issues head-on, we risk watching our planet descend into an uninhabitable wasteland.

Oh great, back to being a pessimist!

Keep reading as I break down the unquestionable causes of desertification and assess the possible answers to its devastating effects.

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