Love 4 Mother Earth

Was the Sahara desertification man-made?

I would like to start a topic about the Sahara desert.

Did you know that only 6000 years ago, this immense area was not a desert, it was a thriving forest.

Sahara became the desert we know today about 2700 years ago. 

Some scientists say that it was because of climate change, or a change in the axis of the Earth. But I am not convinced. 
Why didn't this climate change take place in South America as well?
Why didn't the Amazon jungle become a desert. 


Scientist forget that 6000 years ago, the Earth was populated. The Egyptians were a thriving civilization, building incredible pyramids. 
I think the Sahara desert was also created through mass deforestation. And the same thing is happening right now in the Amazon. Perhaps in a few millenia, the Amazon will also become a desert. 

What do you think?  Was the Sahara a natural event or the result of reckless deforestation?

The ancient civilizations were more advanced that we sometimes like to admit. 
6000 to 2700 years ago is quite recent.





 
 

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This is topic is not really about Sahara, but mostly about what is happening right now in the Amazon. 

Massive deforestation is going on in order to provide paper for countless newspapers and magazines, stationery, furniture in the West. The Western countries are willing to pay for all the wood, and the poor Amazon countries are willing to sell their resources for a quick buck, without even thinking of future generations. 

If this goes on recklessly, what is now the Amazon forest could one day become the Amazon desert. 
What do you think? I would like to discuss this aspect also. Do you think the Amazon is in danger of becoming a desert.

With our incredibly advanced deforestation technology, we could create an ecological disaster of massive proportions. 


 

Simon Leufstedt likes this

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I would like to start a topic about the Sahara desert.

Did you know that only 6000 years ago, this immense area was not a desert, it was a thriving forest.

Sahara became the desert we know today about 2700 years ago. 

Some scientists say that it was because of climate change, or a change in the axis of the Earth. But I am not convinced. 

Why didn't this climate change take place in South America as well?

Why didn't the Amazon jungle become a desert. 

Scientist forget that 6000 years ago, the Earth was populated. The Egyptians were a thriving civilization, building incredible pyramids. 

I think the Sahara desert was also created through mass deforestation. And the same thing is happening right now in the Amazon. Perhaps in a few millenia, the Amazon will also become a desert. 

What do you think?  Was the Sahara a natural event or the result of reckless deforestation?

The ancient civilizations were more advanced that we sometimes like to admit. 

6000 to 2700 years ago is quite recent.

 

 

 

What an excellent question!

 

I think the Sahara was man made.

 

Timbuktu, Cairo and other areas of Africa, were along trade routes that woul dhave drawn people to the area. Great civilizations existed there before Europeans developed their own urban centers. The concentration of people must have led to deforestation for farming and production. I think there were also gold mines that may have used more than their fair share of water.

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What do you think?  Was the Sahara a natural event or the result of reckless deforestation?

 

I don't think one can blame the Sahara desert on mankind. The climate and environment in that region has seen enormous natural changes and variations over the last few hundred thousand years. But history does show how mankind have contributed to desertification around the edges of Sahara.

 

Around 2000 years ago, during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, one can see how large sections of North Africa, which back then served as crucial granaries for the Romans, were reduced to deserts. A growing demand for food led to soil degradation and the production got extended to ever more marginal lands. Forests on steep hillsides were cut down to make room for cultivation which exposed the soil and made it vulnerable to harsh weather elements which easily eroded the precious soil and left the earth desolated. Overgrazing also interfered with the natural replacement of pasture when herbs, seeds and grasses were destroyed.

 

This destruction caused severe and chronic food shortages which in turn contributed to a drop in the population and the weakening of the empire. The erosion caused by all this was so severe that you can still see the effects of it today. All the former great cities in Rome's former North African provinces are now in ruins and surrounded by vast deserts.

 

It's fascinating, as well as scary, to see how the fall of the great Roman Empire can, to a considerable extent, be traced back to environmental destruction. If you are interested in learning more I really recommend The Vulnerable Planet by John Bellamy Foster. It's an excellent book that takes a look on the economic history of the environment. :)

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This is topic is not really about Sahara, but mostly about what is happening right now in the Amazon. 

Massive deforestation is going on in order to provide paper for countless newspapers and magazines, stationery, furniture in the West. The Western countries are willing to pay for all the wood, and the poor Amazon countries are willing to sell their resources for a quick buck, without even thinking of future generations. 

 

I think you are spot on there by linking the deforestation in the Amazon to the global market and the demand for resources from rich industrial cities. It's all about an ecological unequal exchange and historical responsibility.

 

I am not defending the massive destruction of precious rainforest, but one shouldn't forget about the large-scale clearings of European forests a few centuries ago. Deforestation in Europe due to the smelters alone, was approximately 15,000 to 20,000 acres of forest per year. Or 1.1-1.5 million acres between 1450 and 1525. In North America the deforestation was later on done in an even greater extent, and the industrial forest and products industry reached its peak. Timber was transported thousands of miles and over 153 million acres of forest was cut down. Additional 304 million acres were carved also down to make way for agriculture (source p.116-117, 126). 
 
I think this quote by Brazil’s former President Lula is a good one. He said in 2007 that “the wealthy countries are very smart, approving protocols, holding big speeches on the need to avoid deforestation, but they already deforested everything."
 
If you want to learn more about globalization and the environment I recommend reading Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change. :)

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You must remember that the Romans are responible for the deforestation of most of Europe, so it wouldn't suprise me if the other main ancient civilisation did the same to northern africa. Having said that though the deforestation in Europe didn't lead to desertification so there must be other factors in play.

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Heonologist, you make a good point

Maybe Sahara is just a bald patch on Earth's head :D :D :D :D

If we compare the age of our planet with the age of a person, scientists claim the Planet is about 40 years old. Maybe it's just going bald in some places.


Romans were also responsible for killing most lions in North Africa, and many other wild animals for that matter. They used to kill animals for the games at the Colloseum. This is an interesting article 
http://www.endangeredspecieshandbook.org/persecution_roman.php


Simon
Thank you for all the interesting links. So, is it possible that the desertification was caused by monoculture? If they just cultivated the same plant for a hundred years, it is possible that the soil eroded.

First deforestation, then monoculture -- perhaps these two factors together have created the desert. 

I think this quote by Brazil’s former President Lula is a good one. He said in 2007 that “the wealthy countries are very smart, approving protocols, holding big speeches on the need to avoid deforestation, but they already deforested everything."

I agree with his point, and have thought of that before. Nevertheless, the Amazon jungle are the last remaining lungs of the planet. If we cut down all the forests, and just have agricultural lands, the oxigen levels will decrease. It is bad enough as it is, with the exhaust fumes letting out huge quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The Planet now, compared to how it was 2 thousand years ago -- is like a 40 year old chain smoker who is going bald, and has a drug habit (the drug habit is all the pollution). It hasn't got much more time left to live.

 

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