My February Changing Seasons post will be divided into two parts. Part 1 covers the serious stuff. Part 2 will be more lighthearted.
February – in the dying days of summer, danger lurks.
The shrill wind blew of the calamity to come.
But no one was listening.
Did you know that the UN declared 2010 to 2020 the Decade for Deserts and has called for urgent action to fight against desertification? The main reasons are land-clearing for agriculture, over-grazing and other land uses (eg. mining), unsustainable land management practices and climate change. In a vicious cycle, degraded lands hold less carbon and less surface moisture. It is estimated that it takes 1000 years to generate 3 cm of topsoil and if the current rate of soil degradation continues, all the world’s topsoil could be gone within 60 years. No topsoil. No life.
In March 2018, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a report on land degradation. It predicted as many as 700 million people could be displaced by 2050 due to the effects of land degradation and climate change.
Like other dry continents, Australia, with its ancient, nutrient poor soils, is vulnerable. In south-eastern Australia where I live, last December and January were our dustiest months on record. We backed this up in February with our “Lawrence of Arabia” moment with yet another massive dust storm. The pollution index reached levels seen in some of the world’s most polluted mega-cities.
Dust has a date with destiny. Not a word was said about the contribution of unsustainable land management practices to the loss of this precious resource.
Compare and contrast the day after.
Gone and forgotten.
What If the World’s Soil Runs Out?
Information on Australian soils