The Problem, My Friend, Is Blowin’ in the Wind
Blowing Desert Dust Is Growing Environmental Problem
Dust blowing up from the Sahara Desert has increased tenfold in the last 50 years and represents a growing environmental threat, warned Oxford geography professor Andrew Goudie today. And SUVs are at least partly to blame. The replacement of camels with four-wheel-drive vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers in the Sahara, as well as the “Toyota-ization” of other deserts in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, has led to an increase in dust storms and a rise in the total amount of dust in the global atmosphere, to some 2 billion to 3 billion tons a year. The heavy off-road vehicles break the thin layer of lichen, algae, or gravel that holds the fine sand underneath in place. The dust contributes to a host of environmental problems by exacerbating climate change, salinizing soil, transporting disease, increasing air pollution, and fertilizing the growth of carbon dioxide-sucking algae in the oceans. Goudie recommends a ban on the vehicles in sensitive desert areas.