August 2, 2009

How to make a desert out of good causes

This week National Geographic published an article on the Sahara Desert- "Sahara Desert Greening Due to Climate Change?". The article begins with the very optimistic and one would think celebratory worthy comments:

Desertification, drought, and despair—that's what global warming has in store for much of Africa. Or so we hear.

Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent.

Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall.

If sustained, these rains could revitalize drought-ravaged regions, reclaiming them for farming communities.

This desert-shrinking trend is supported by climate models, which predict a return to conditions that turned the Sahara into a lush savanna some 12,000 years ago ...

Lush savanna where there is now barren deserts? In one of the most impoverished areas of the globe? This should be one of the most heralded and hoped for outcomes imaginable by not only the poor people living there but the entire world.

After all, just two years ago on the 13 anniversary to commemorate The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Secretary General of the UN had this to say:

The theme of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, “Desertification and Climate Change -- One Global Challenge”, reminds us that climate change and desertification interact with each other at a variety of levels. They are two major manifestations of the same problem. And together they seriously threaten our ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing our world to get warmer. We are already experiencing the impact of climate change, with adverse effects felt in many areas. And for people living in dry areas, especially in Africa, changing weather patterns threaten to exacerbate desertification, drought and food insecurity.

Global warming is expected to lead to a further rise in the number of extreme weather events, such as droughts and heavy rains, which will have a dramatic impact on already weakened soils. This trend will, in turn, worsen desertification and increase the prevalence of poverty, forced migration and vulnerability to conflicts in affected areas. Conversely, concerted efforts to combat desertification -- by reclaiming degraded land, combating soil loss and restoring vegetation -- can help curb greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the resilience of affected countries and build their capacity to adapt to climate change.

On this World Day, let us strive to address desertification and climate change in a synergistic fashion, as part of an integrated approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

So it would seem that climate change itself is addressing desertification in a "synergistic fashion" without the help of the UN or any other organization.

Of course the truth is that desertification is as much a result of land use practices as it is any climate changes man made or otherwise. But
incorporating it into the whole IPCC framework is just part of the way in which "climate change has become a catch all for all causes:

Nevertheless, land degradation today affects most African countries from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Considering the forecasted loss of two-thirds of Africa’s arable land by 2025, land degradation will be responsible for an annual average loss of over 3% of their GDP. If arable land erosion were to continue at current levels, crop production is predicted to halve over the next 40 years, thus dangerously worsening poverty and the incidence of malnutrition.

1 The notion of land degradation refers to the loss of physico-chemical properties in soil,whatever the isohyet.
One of the great injustices to the entire global warming hysteria is that many worthy endeavors have hitched onto the frame work of climate change and are now irrevocably tied to the myth. Not only does this increase the power of those promoting this agenda, it tars these worthy causes with the same brush. When the stack of cards begins to truly collapse, which it inevitably will, separating the wheat from the chaff will be a very painful experience and many good causes will likely suffer as a result.

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