Archive for ‘Desertification’

Shorter Lived Climate Forcers: Agriculture Sector and Land Clearing for Livestock

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In this video presentation, Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, World Preservation Foundation Senior Scientist, puts forward the case for how, with the devastating effects of climate change being felt ever-more quickly and with increasing intensity, the importance of embracing fast-acting solutions to mitigate climate change has increased dramatically.

In recent years, greater understanding of climate science has advanced considerably, and scientists and even policy makers now recognise that climate change in the short term is being driven by extremely potent, shorter-lived climate forcers. By reducing these climate forcers — namely black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone — cooling begins rapidly.

Globally, the production of meat and dairy are significant contributors of these fast warming agents with far reaching consequences on planetary warming and environmental devastation. These include the major effects of black carbon due to biomass burning, on West Antarctica as well as the tropical monsoons; deforestation; soil carbon loss; and, food and water security. It’s estimated that 47% to 60% of the black carbon reaching West Antarctica and causing rapid melting is due to biomass burning resulting from livestock pasture management.

CO2 from pasture maintenance fires, reforestation of pastures and soil carbon uptake on relief of grazing pressure may also play a part in a fast-acting solution to the climate crisis.

This video is a synopsis of the paper Gerard wrote that examines the contributions of agriculture, namely livestock farming, to planetary warming through the shorter-lived climate forcers, and the effect of animal agriculture abatement on alleviating global warming and environmental collapse. We also propose four policy measures to immediately reduce the shorter-lived warming agents.

(By: Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop: Senior Scientist, World Preservation Foundation )

Dayah: Desertification Threatens 59 % of Syrian Lands..Doubling Efforts to Face the Phenomenon

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Minister of State for Environment Affairs Kaukab al-Sabah Dayah on Thursday said the Syrian government has exerted great efforts to combat desertification, reduce the effects of drought and achieve sustainable development.

In a celebration marking World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought held at al-Assad Library, Minister Dayah added that the Environment Ministry has finished its national plan to combat this phenomenon.

The plan included pasture development projects, road network development, traditional water management technique and the use of renewable energy resources as well as wind erosion project in cooperation with al-Furat University, she added.

The Minister indicated that preserving environment required cooperation between governmental and civil sectors to monitor water pollution, establish natural reserves, combat desertification, develop forest management plan and to build treatment plants all over the Syrian cities.

According to studies, desertification threatens 109 thousand km2 (59 percent) of Syrian lands reducing the area of pastures and destroying large areas of cultivated rain-fed lands.

For his part, Director-General of the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) Rafik Ali Saleh called for unifying efforts to set a comprehensive strategy to protect ground resources and increase their productivity to improve economical and social situation.

He added that ACSAD has established a special laboratory to monitor desertification phenomenon, build drought early-warning system and support the Arab efforts to combat desertification and preserve natural resources and fix sand dunes.

Director of Land Safety at the General Authority for Environmental Affairs Khaled al-Shara said al-Badya (semi-desert areas) has reached an advanced stage of desertification by the end of the 1980s.

Cultivated rain-fed lands increased to reach 218 thousand hectares in 1985 and 522 thousand hectares in 1990, he said.

In turn, Director of the National Climate Change Project Youssef Meslmani said the arid areas constitute 71 percent and semi-arid lands constitute 23 percent of Syria’s lands. Pastures cover an area of 44 percent, arable lands spread over an area of 33 percent and forests constitute 3 percent. The remaining area (20 percent) includes the cities, services, sabulous and rocky terrains, lakes and rivers.

Syria participated in the 1992 Earth Summit, held in Brazil. It also took part in setting the agenda of the 21st century and signed the international agreement to combat desertification in 1994.

The celebration ceremony dubbed “Enriching Soil any Place, Supports Life Everywhere.”

The United Nations’ World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is annually observed on June 17 to highlight the urgent need to curb the desertification process. It also aims to strengthen the visibility of the dry lands issue on the international environmental agenda.

Source: Dayah: Desertification Threatens 59 % of Syrian Lands..Doubling Efforts to Face the Phenomenon – sana.sy

Date: 18 June 2010

Tackling land degradation crucial for human well-being, UN officials stress

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

United Nations officials today stressed the need to look after the world’s drylands, which are home to more than one billion poor people and where efforts to achieve key development targets face particular challenges.

“When we protect and restore drylands, we advance on many fronts at once,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out in his message for the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, observed on 17 June.

“We strengthen food security, we address climate change, we help the poor gain control over their destiny, and we accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said, referring to the global anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

But, as the Secretary-General pointed out, desertification continues to be a problem. Over the past 40 years, nearly one third of the world’s cropland has become unproductive, often ending up abandoned.

“The unremitting stress of drought, famine and deepening poverty threatens to create social strains, in turn creating the potential for involuntary migration, the breakdown of communities, political instability and armed conflict,” he said.

“Let us reaffirm our commitment to combating desertification and land degradation and mitigating the effects of drought; and let us recognize that enhancing soils enhances life.”

Source: Tackling land degradation crucial for human well-being, UN officials stress – UN News Centre

Date: 17 June, 2010

Push for ‘Great Green Wall of Africa’ to halt Sahara

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

African leaders are meeting in Chad to push the idea of planting a tree belt across Africa from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east.

The Great Green Wall project is backed by the African Union and is aimed at halting the advancing Sahara Desert.

The belt would be 15km (nine miles) wide and 7,775km (4,831 miles) long.

The initiative, conceived five years ago, has not started because of a lack of funding and some experts worry it would not be maintained properly.

The BBC’s Tidiane Sy in Senegal says the initiative has the full backing of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who is in Chad with 10 other heads of state to discuss desertification.

His government has created the website dedicated to the Great Green Wall.

But our reporter says many other leaders seem ready to forget the project.

At the Copenhagen Climate Change summit last year, for instance, the Senegalese delegation made a presentation on the project.

The initiative says it hopes the trees will slow soil erosion; slow wind speeds and help rain water filter into the ground, to stop the desert from growing.

It also says a richer soil content will help communities across the Sahel who depend on land for grazing and agriculture.

Source: Push for ‘Great Green Wall of Africa’ to halt Sahara - news.bbc.co.uk

Date: 17 June, 2010

SYRIA: Act now to stop desertification, says FAO

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

An irreversible degeneration of some of Syria’s landmass could occur because of three consecutive years of drought, warns the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“If desertification is not controlled, it threatens the land and our heritage,” Abdulla Tahir Bin Yehia, head of FAO in Syria, said. “The situation is terrible in Syria and has been worsened by the past years of low rainfall.”

According to the UN, 80 percent of Syria is susceptible to desertification, defined by FAO as “the sum of the geological, climatic, biological and human factors which lead to the degradation of the physical, chemical and biological potential of lands in arid and semi-arid zones, and endanger biodiversity and the survival of human communities”.

Source: SYRIA: Act now to stop desertification, says FAO - IRIN

Date: 15 June, 2010

Don urges action on desertification

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

A university teacher, Prof. Joshua Kayode has advised Nigerians to embrace tree planting as a way of curbing the impending desert encroachment that is ravaging some parts of the country

The University of Ado Ekiti(UNAD) Professor of Botany said it was better the country realized the importance of forest and tree planting in time to prevent the country from being devastated by high rising deforestation.

Delivering the 26th Inaugural Lecture of the University entitled: “Reconciliation of the supposedly Irreconcilable: Conservation and Development”, Kayode said the act of tree planting would not only tackle the impeding desertification that is ominous in the country, but would go a long way at checking the impending danger of food insecurity.

He said desertification as a contributory factor to global warming has had its effect felt in the country in the area of the rising wave of pests and diseases, growing seasons and changes in reproduction cycles, which he said portend serious dangers to the people.

Kayode in the two-hour lecture reasoned

“nothing stops the government at all levels to embrace the act of tree planting as a way of curtailing the dangers inherent in the acts of deforestation.”

Source: Don urges action on desertification – Nigeria Daily News

Date: 9 May 2010

U.N.’s Ban urges Central Asia talks on shrinking Aral Sea

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Central Asian states to work together to tackle the disastrous effects of the shrinking Aral Sea Sunday after local people urged the United Nations to resolve a regional dispute.

Much of the former bed of what was once the world’s fourth largest lake is now a desert covered with scrub and salt flats. It shrank by 70 percent after Soviet planners in the 1960s siphoned off water for cotton irrigation projects in Uzbekistan.

I was so shocked,” Ban said after viewing the damage by helicopter, describing it as “clearly one of the worst environmental disasters in the world.”

He was on a tour of the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia that lie on some of the world’s biggest untapped oil, gas, uranium and gold reserves.

The people living around the Aral Sea are some of the poorest in the region and struggle with declining fresh water supplies and fish stocks, pollution and violent sand storms.

In 1990 the sea split into a large southern Uzbek part and a smaller Kazakh portion.

“I urge all the leaders (of Central Asia), including President (Islam ) Karimov of Uzbekistan to sit down together and try to find solutions,” said Ban, hours before a scheduled meeting with the Uzbek leader.

“All specialized agencies of the United Nations will provide necessary assistance and expertise,” he said.

Source: U.N.’s Ban urges Central Asia talks on shrinking Aral Sea – Reuters India

Date: 4 April 2010

US report says climate change will worsen natural events

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

A report from U.S. Climate Change Science Program states that climate change will worsen natural events, intensifying storms, floods and droughts.

Droughts will get dryer, storms will get stormier and floods will get deeper with changing climate. Events such as extremely heavy rains and floods, severe drought, hurricanes, unusal hot or cold weathers that have seemed relatively rare will become commonplace.”

Source: Climate Change To Spur Extreme Weather – CBS News

Date: 19 June 2008

UN Highlights Link Between Desertification and Climate Change

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Global warming can cause severe weather patterns to occur more frequently, increasing degradation of drylands. Desertification and climate can initiate a vicious cycle, where loss of vegetation due to desertification reduces carbon sinks and increases emissions from biodegrading plants, likewise, more emissions will be released into the atmosphere, intensifying climate change and desertification.

Source: UN Highlights Link Between Desertification and Climate Change – World Resources Institute

Date: 15 June 2007

Desertification worsens due to global warming, putting 80 million people at risk

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Arid and semiarid areas make up one quarter of China’s territory. Xunming Wang at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Lanzhou conducted a study where results showed that desertification will worsen from 2040 due to global warming, putting almost 80 million people at risk.

This extensive desertification in the western and eastern regions would lower livestock and grain yields, and possibly threaten China’s food security.

Source: Climate change is likely to worsen China’s desertification problem in the twenty-first century, threatening the lives of 80 million people – Nature China

Date: 3 June 2009

Original article citation
Wang, X., Yang, Y., Dong, Z. & Zhang, C. Responses of dune activity and desertification in China to global warming in the twenty-first century. Global & Planetary Change 67, 167–185 (2009).

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