U.N. Warns of Spreading Deserts

As you celebrate World Day to Combat Desertification today, remember it’s not just another excuse to buy Hallmark cards and fancy gifts. (Holidays are so commodified these days!) This week, as the United Nations marks the 10th anniversary of the Convention to Combat Desertification, keep in mind that some one-third of the earth’s surface is in danger of drying up, with an area the size of Rhode Island becoming desert each year, and millions of people are likely to flee to cities and greener countries, creating who-knows-what economic and social pressures. In what a U.N. spokesperson calls “a creeping catastrophe,” destructive agricultural practices, water shortages, population growth, and, of course, global warming could by 2025 leave two-thirds of Africa’s arable land, one-third of Asia’s, and one-fifth of South America’s desiccated and virtually uninhabitable. Some 135 million people may be displaced. Now what was it we were going to celebrate?