Within the next ten years fifty million people could be driven from their homes by expanding deserts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, a report says. The study by the United Nations University, produced by more than 200 experts from 25 countries, suggests that climate change is making desertification “the greatest environmental challenge of our times”.
According to the report, one third of the Earth’s population – home to about two billion people – is a potential victim of its creeping effect. People displaced by desertification put new strains on natural and environmental resources, as well as on other people. This could threaten international instability.
“There is a chain reaction. It leads to social turmoil,” said Zafaar Adeel, the study’s lead author and head of the UN University’s International Network on Water, Environment and Health.
The largest area affected was probably sub-Saharan Africa, where people are moving to northern Africa or to Europe, while the second area is the former Soviet republics in central Asia, he added.
The UN report suggests that new farming practices, such as encouraging forests in dryland areas, were simple measures that could remove more carbon from the atmosphere and also prevent the spread of deserts.
Is there something positive that can be done or will there be a war?