Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes desertification as the process by which an area becomes a desert. It is the process where arable or fertile land become wastelands, drier and unproductive as they once were.
One of the ways that most everyone is indirectly responsible for desertification is through our use of wood. Wood comes from places that are taking part in deforestation. This has led to the extinction of some animals and the desertification of some lands. Humans rely on wood for many reasons, from building homes, to fires, to using charcoal for cooking. All of these things are taking part in the desertification of some lands.
The Colorado Plateau is an area that is currently fighting desertification. This is not so much desertification due to human impacts, more than the growth of plants and trees that are taking out other grasses and vegetation that certain wildlife needs for survival. In order to combat this, vegetation is planted in certain places, and when there is intruder plants that invade, some controlled fires are used to take the area to a beginning phase in what it should be.
Some of the major causes are deforestation that large logging companies partake in. The only way to combat this is to ensure that wood is gathered from sources not using mass deforesting techniques, or planting trees in the same area that are forested. Another major cause is over farming land, one way to combat this is by crop rotation where farmers rotate their crops to keep the land able to be farmed into the future and ensure that the minerals needed for farming are not just used up by farming. Another cause would be overgrazing. This is combated by the use of fences to ensure that different areas are grazed at different times of the year allowing for those areas that were grazed to grow again.
In the 1930s, the major cause of the dust bowl were a huge drought, as well as over farming. Farmers had yet to learn the art of crop rotations. They had used up the nutrients of the soil so that nothing would grow. Mix with this the drought that was seen and when the wind picked up, it blew dust around since there was no ground cover due to the over farming. This ended when the rains came back ending the drought.
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Desertification is a process in which an area becomes drier and drier until eventually it is transformed into a desert or a barren wasteland in comparison to what it once was. Desertification is caused by a variety of processes, one of those being the loss of vegetation needed to keep topsoil in place. A few other causes of desertification are overgrazing by livestock or improper rotation of crops. Farmers also have to be careful not only when planning what crops to plant, but also in how to water them. An overabundance of salt can occur severely reducing the soil's ability to remain stable enough to promote plant growth. As you can see, human beings are a main contributor of desertification. Humans are also known for using an area for all of its resources and once those resources are exhausted we move again and again, continuing a trail of desertification.
I am not currently located in an area of desertification. There are numerous small ponds, field, and livestock around the area I am in, but the grounds are fertile and promote crop growth. I have indirectly contributed to desertification by renting houses that were built after clear cutting an area of its trees. I may have directly contributed to desertification by driving my vehicle and increasing greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which may contribute to global warming. Thus over time the increased temperatures could promote the process of desertification happening even quicker.
The Great Plains "dust bowl" covered an area of 150,000 miles in the lands of Texas and Oklahoma. The combination of light soil, high winds, little rain, overgrazing of cattle, and human interaction all contributed to the dust bowl happening. Farmers took special note of the rising wheat prices and in their attempts to cash in on the big harvests began to plow over grasslands as well as knock down soil holding trees. Due to the unlivable conditions of the dust bowl, 2.5 million people fled the area. NASA has also concluded that cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures and warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures created near perfect conditions for drought.
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