The global sand shortage is not only a threat to infrastructure development but also to the livelihoods of millions of people living in deserts as it contributes to desertification, says an article in the World Economic Forum. Desertification is forcing communities to move in search of fertile land and is already being felt across Africa where the Sahara Desert is advancing at a rate of 5 km per year. One solution promoted is reforestation, which helps to reduce erosion, improve soil quality, and provide habitats for wildlife. Sustainable land management practices, such as crop rotation and natural fertilisation, are also being put forward.
Desertification Threatens Livelihoods of Millions as Global Sand Shortage Deepens
The world is at risk of running out of sand, which not only poses a threat to construction and infrastructure development but also to the livelihoods of millions of people who live in the world’s deserts. Desertification, the process by which land is converted into desert-like conditions, is a major environmental problem that is only getting worse due to the global sand shortage.
The impact of desertification is already being felt in many parts of the world. In Africa, for example, the Sahara desert is expanding at a rate of around 5 km per year. This is having a devastating effect on local communities who rely on the land for their livelihoods. In some cases, it is leading to displacement as people are forced to move in search of fertile land.
One of the main causes of desertification is the overuse of natural resources, such as water and soil. As the world’s population grows, the demand for resources is increasing, and this is putting pressure on fragile ecosystems. Climate change is also exacerbating the problem, with rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns making it more difficult for plants to grow.
The global sand shortage is adding to the problem. Sand is one of the most widely used natural resources in the world, with an estimated 40 billion tonnes extracted globally each year. It is used in the construction of buildings, roads and bridges, and in the production of glass and electronics.
The problem is that sand is not a renewable resource. Most of the world’s sand is formed by erosion of rock, which takes millions of years. The sand that is accessible and easy to extract is being depleted at an alarming rate. This, in turn, is leading to increased demand for sand from desert regions, which is contributing to desertification.
What Is Being Done to Combat Desertification?
Governments and international organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of halting desertification. The United Nations has declared 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to promote the restoration of degraded ecosystems, including deserts.
There are many approaches being taken to combat desertification. One of the most effective is reforestation, which involves planting trees in areas that have been stripped of their natural vegetation. This helps to reduce erosion, improve soil quality, and provide habitats for wildlife.
Another approach is to promote sustainable land management practices that help to conserve soil and water resources. This can include measures such as crop rotation, reducing tillage, and using natural fertilizers.
Q: Why is sand important?
A: Sand is used in a wide range of industries, including construction, glass production, and electronics. It is also used in hydraulic fracturing, which is a controversial method of extracting oil and gas from rock formations.
Q: What is desertification?
A: Desertification is the process by which land becomes progressively more arid, losing its vegetation, wildlife, and productivity. It is caused by a combination of factors, including climate change, overgrazing, and deforestation.
Q: How can we prevent desertification?
A: There are many ways to prevent desertification, including planting trees, promoting sustainable land management practices, and reducing consumption of natural resources.
Q: What is the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration?
A: The Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a United Nations initiative that aims to promote the restoration of degraded ecosystems, including deserts. It runs from 2021 to 2030.
Q: What are some examples of sustainable land management practices?
A: Examples of sustainable land management practices include crop rotation, reducing tillage, using natural fertilizers, and promoting the use of cover crops.