Approximately are characteristics of infertile desert-like soil (Markus). Similarly,

Approximately 6,000 years ago, the largest and harshest desert in the world, the Sahara, used to be a tropical grassland; this land received plenty of rainfall and was rich with flora and fauna (Boos). The cause of this radical change is an environmental phenomenon called desertification: the process of fertile land becoming a desert (Desertification). This occurrence is not limited to Northern Africa, all over the world forests, grasslands, and savannas are turning into uninhabitable barren deserts at an unprecedented speed. This fairly new and widespread outbreak isn’t naturally occurring as many believe, in fact, it is a result of human interference. Deforestation, overgrazing, agricultural activities, and overexploitation of vegetation are the primary causes of desertification (Thomas). These activities are solely carried out by humans, who don’t realize that these egocentric actions ultimately jeopardize themselves. The geological process of desertification is the most pressing issue that man faces in his interaction with the environment, as it threatens agrarian society, decreases biodiversity, and contributes to global climate change. *start revisions here*Agriculture has been the backbone of human civilization ever since the prehistoric switch from nomadic hunter-gatherers to stationary communities. Unfortunately, a major cause of desertification is the overgrazing of arable, or land suitable for growing crops, by livestock used in agrarian, or agricultural based, practices. Overgrazing occurs when farmers and herders allow their cattle to graze extensively without regulation, to the point where they remove most of the vegetation and their roots holding the soil together. This increases the erosion and decreases the fertility of the soil, which are characteristics of infertile desert-like soil (Markus). Similarly, over cultivation, meaning enough overtilling of land and the over farming of various vegetative substances on fertile soil that it turns infertile, strips arable land of its rich qualities, rendering it desert-like (Reese). The irony of this situation is that, through careless agrarian livestock and cultivation practices, man has depleted arable land – a fundamental resource for land cultivation essential to the agricultural society that humanity depends upon. By recklessly and greedily over providing for the immediate needs of his cattle and produce through overgrazing and over cultivation, man has depleted his access to the same essential needs in the future, such as arable land to cultivate for crops and more cattle, which produces food essential to the survival of mankind. If unsustainable agricultural practices such as these perpetuate, humans may inadvertently starve themselves and other species into oblivion. And when we not only drive ourselves extinct, but other species as well, another troubling consequence arises.Desertification threatens an essential component of the planet’s vitality: biodiversity. Biodiversity “refers to the all the variety of life that can be found on Earth as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live” (What is Biodiversity). This diversity of species is important to the survival of life from an evolutionary perspective. The immense variety of species that this planet harbors means that genetic pools contain enough mutations for natural selection to ensure the survival of different species into future generations through survival of the fittest. This multitude of genes is crucial to the survival of life on Earth, and desertification is decreases the variety. Habitats such as forests and grasslands that harbor many different species of plants and animals are becoming uninhabitable deserts that don’t provide the shelter and resources indispensable to the survival of those species. Without their habitat, those species perish, and if this is a reoccurring issue on a large scale as desertification is becoming, then it threatens biodiversity. All forms of flora and fauna are affected from a decrease in biodiversity, including humans. With a lesser variety of natural life on earth, man will have less resources to utilize for for food, which humans need for survival.  It would also be a detriment human health, as biodiversity provides important resources for traditional and modern medicine. Not only do traditional and indigenous medicinal practices utilize wild plants and animals, many modern drugs are derived from wild species including cardiac drugs, anti-cancer drugs, and diabetes treatments (The Importance of Biodiversity to Human Health? make these shorter). If the species that these drugs come from perish then people whose lives depend on medicine made from them could perish along with them. There is a larger and more inclusive issue looming over the loss of biodiversity which is an umbrella that encapsulates major environmental changes: climate change. Climate change, threatens approximately ¼ or more species with extinction by the year 2050 (Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss). This mass extinction would cause biodiversity loss and the accompanied consequences that detriment the Earth and mankind alike as mentioned previously. Climate change, which is a cause of desertification, isn’t only a threat to biodiversity, but to a variety of other factors essential to all kinds of survival.Over the last 50 years, the average temperature on Earth has increased at the fastest rate recorded in history (MacMillan). This phenomenon, coined global warming, has been at the center of attention when it comes to environmental issues. Global warming really is a part of a much bigger issue called climate change. Humans are altering the natural atmospheric conditions of the planet in ways that no other species has ever before. In addition to climate change causing biodiversity loss, biodiversity loss due to desertification can also cause climate change. When desertification of certain habitats kills off species, the entire ecosystem is thrown off, down to the smallest microorganisms, which depend upon complex organisms which provide vital resources. Reduced microbial activity reduces carbon sequestration, and increased carbon in the atmosphere increases atmospheric temperatures (Adeel). Another way in which excess of carbon is omitted into the atmosphere is deforestation. Deforestation occurs when mass expanses of woodland vegetation are clearcutted for timber (Pachauri). Deforestation is the most direct cause of desertification, one that can make a forest go to a practical desert in a matter of weeks. But an often overlooked fact of this desertification contributor is that it increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as well. Also, trees and plants consume carbon dioxide in order to survive by photosynthesis, which means that without them, there would be an excess of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. And once again, man is literally choking himself through his careless actions such as deforestation, which only reap short-term materialistic benefits. A byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen. Which means that without much vegetation, not only will carbon dioxide be emitted contributing to climate change, but humans will have less available oxygen for cellular respiration. This coupled with an increase in carbon dioxide, which is toxic in high concentrations, would make it harder for humans to breathe and could increase the risk of harmful diseases, such as lung cancer (Carbon Dioxide). Even more troubling is that recent global warming trend predictions reported by a variety of journalistic sources say that some parts of the world may be too hot for humans to survive in by 2100 (Withnall). This could cause many people who like in these at-risk zones to be displaced and less economical productivity for certain countries that heat up. A surge in global warming would devastate the human race, and the irony is that humans are the sole responsibility for mass desertification, a major contributor to this shift in atmospheric conditions.


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