The 4 D’s of Africa: Desertification
Welcome to part one in a series of four major issues facing the continent of Africa today. Most Americans shy away from the subject of Africa because it’s portrayed on the news as a desolate place that should be avoided at all costs. But I refuse to see it that way. I want to shatter the illusions of Africa that many Americans have. Not only is this continent home to more than 1/7 of the world’s population, but it has some of the most diverse environments and species of plants and animals on the planet. If not for Africa, the rest of the world would fall apart. A good majority of our coffee comes from Africa, as does a lot of our produce. The mineral coltan, used in cell phones, is found in the largest quantities in Central Africa. We are connected to this continent whether we realize it or not.
But due to rising global consumption, the vast resources available on this land mass are quickly being depleted. Thanks to poor farming techniques, much like what the Great Plains witnessed during the Dust Bowl, the deserts on the African continent are expanding. Through a process known as desertification, the many tropical areas throughout Africa will give way to dry land unable to produce anything due to a high salt content in the soil. Now, I don’t know exactly what that means for life in Africa; I’m not an environmental ecologist, but I do know that the great diversity of plants and animals will cease to exist. Desertification on the African continent could cause a famine on a global scale.
Ever since I was little, I’ve been attached to Africa. I loved watching Animal Planet shows about all the big cats found there. I do not want to see desertification destroy a place that I find so beautiful. This earth is fragile; it can only handle so much desert land. In order to prevent the Sahara from taking over the continent, we need to drastically reduce our consumption of natural resources. America is the global leader in consumption, but we need to become the global leader in reduction.
By Michelle Jameson
This is the first installment in a 4 part series. Check out the other articles here…