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Desertification: A Worldwide Problem

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California’s central valley conjures images of lush, green landscapes; however, it has been plagued by drought for much of the past decade. While we may have only felt most of the effects of drought in our bank accounts with increasing water rates, the central valley has felt the effects in another way – the process of desertification. The process has caused major concern for many in the agricultural community but has moreover led to a widespread concern for much of the developing world.

Desertification is a global environmental problem that the textbook Principles of Environmental Science: Inquiry and Applications,written by William P. Cunningham and Mary Ann Cunningham, defines as the “process of conversion of once fertile land to desert” (140). This process occurs mainly in areas that are highly cultivated, overgrazed and also in areas where water resources are scarce. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has determined that this process is most detrimental in “arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas” (United Nations).

The above mentioned areas that the UNCCD has determined are most concerning were “home to a third of the human population in 2000” and “occupy nearly half of the Earth’s land area” (GreenFacts). This means that roughly a third of the population is living in areas with degraded soils lacking nutrients or sufficient water supply. Some of these areas include surrounding parts of the Sahara Desert in Africa has well as much of China. The causes for desertification are the same throughout the world but may be more damaging in these areas. These causes include intensive agriculture, overgrazing of animals and lack of water resources.

In agriculture, “row crops […] leave soil exposed for...

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...e should not consider it a local problem. To reiterate, this area has suffered from drought for much of the past decade. Water resources are becoming more scarce and cities and states are fighting over rights to the current water. California is a major producer of agricultural commodities that feed much of the world. If desertification is allowed to go unchecked in this area, we may one day be living in desert conditions.

Overall, desertification is a worldwide problem that needs all of our attention. Numerous cultures in mainly rural areas are being exposed to massive wind storms, deteriorating food quality and quality of life because of this environmental problem. There are a few organizations whose common goal is to stop and reverse desertification. In the end, I hope more people become educated about this topic and actively take steps to end its destruction.
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