One of the most immediate impacts of the rise of global surface temperatures has been the expansion of arid and semi-arid regions across the world, regions that cover about 40% of the earth’s surface. Desertification can be caused by a number of factors, including overgrazing, overexploitation of water resources, soil degradation, and normal variations in climate. While deserts can be tapped for sources of renewable energy (namely wind and solar), in 1977, the UN formally recognised that the expansion of deserts into other landforms has had a profound impact on the social, economic, environmental, and biological health of the affected regions, and established international protocols to better understand and combat this process. Growing and more swiftly-moving deserts threaten lives and livelihoods on nearly every continent, and have already resulted in the migration of local communities across and between regions. In extreme cases, such as in the shrinkage of Lake Chad (bordering Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon), desertification has sparked both political and armed conflicts over the remaining resource.

See also: Environmental Migration, Climate Change and Conflict, Green Technologies

Further Resources

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

UNEP: Global Deserts Outlook

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Dryland Systems

This entry was posted in Scenarios. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.