Desertification and How to Solve It

Posted in Healthy Food & Agriculture on March 14th, 2012 by dhawkinsmo

DesertI have learned recently that all the deserts of the world are man made … caused by bad agricultural practices … overgrazing and tillage primarily. And they are spreading. I learned this by reading Joel Salatin’s books. He talks in his “Salad Bar Beef” book (p. 50) about how the Sahara Desert used to be lush and green in Homer’s day, but that bad agricultural practices caused it to be a desert today. He also talks about the American West and other deserts. He says that research on India’s Rajputana Desert indicates that by elimination of improper grazing, the earth’s surface will revegetate and cool, encouraging rains to fall. Here is an interesting link supporting this information that deserts are caused by MAN … LINK HERE. Apparently, the UN had a conference on Desertification in 1977 and conferences are continuing today. Here is an article on Israel’s efforts to solve this problem … LINK HERE, but … does the UN understand what Joel Salatin and the Rajputana researchers know? Not sure.

In thinking about implementing Joel’s “proper grazing management” solution to Desertification, the biggest question I have is WATER. How do you get water to the desert to irrigate pasture to get this perennial / herbivore / land healing system going in the first place? Well … interestingly … Muammar Ghaddafi (of all people) seems to have hit on something which at least might help … Google “Ghaddafi Man Made River Project”. I have read that there is something like 200 years worth of Nile river flow in these underground aquifers that Ghaddafi tapped. I haven’t done any calculations, but that seems like it could put a pretty big dent in regreening a whole lot of desert. Incidentally, here is an interesting opinion as to why Ghaddafi was killed. LINK HERE. Evidently he had other cool projects like launching a satellite to get Africa independent in their telecom, and starting a central bank for Africa with a gold backed currency.

Rajputana (Rajasthan) Desert links … HERE The foregoing paper also has some discussion of how albedo of the land affects the hydrologic cycle.  HERE is an excellent paper entitled “The Nature and Causes of Land Degredation and Desertification.”  The word “overgrazing” occurs all throughout the paper.  The authors give their opinion … “Our view is that desertification is a human-induced process of land degradation that can range in severity from slight to very severe and in cause from erosion to salinization to toxic chemical accumulation to vegetation degradation, irrespective of climate.”  HERE is a paper on the effect of albedo of the land (or water) surface on precipitation.