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matt (M, 34)
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    All Deserts are Man-Made.
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    From collective matt's personal cargo

    All Deserts are Man-Made.

    Did you know that in one day a full-grown oak tree expels 7 tons of water through its leaves?

    It's been proven by ecologist and meteorologists that before there were humans, there were no deserts. Turkey was a land of lakes and forests. Lake Chad covered 135,000 square miles and was 40 metres higher than present. The Sahara was a forest. Sea levels were low enough to allow men to walk from Africa to Sicily and into Europe.

    Oak and pine forests once covered half of Scotland, but after centuries of exploitation only 1% of the forests remain. Recent flooding in Germany, China and Central America has been officially blamed on de-forestation. 30% of Honduran rainforest has been lost since 1960. 70% of the poor have no other fuel except firewood. Heavy rains wash away fertile topsoil where there are no trees.

    The cause of deserts is the axe. For hundreds of thousands of years, men have cut trees for fuel, shelter, pottery, smelting, and ships. The Mediterranean was the birthplace of sea-borne trade. Wheat, timber, oil, silver, and gold were traded throughout the Mediterranean in ships built by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Greeks.

    Land was cleared of trees for growing wheat, barley and rye. Glazed pots, timber-fired, allowed beer to be brewed and settlements grew as early men domesticated animals and plants.

    Timber fuelled furnaces for the smelting of bronze and iron axes. By the time of the prophets, the deserts had been established. All the great civilisations of history, Phoenicia, Egypt, Abyssinia, Troy, Greece, Rome, Persia, have all left deserts in their wake. As a tree is lost, the moisture that it transpired back into the atmosphere is also lost. Downwind, the air is dryer. The Sahara is downwind of the ancient Phoenician Empire.

    As each coastal great cedar was cut for ships or temples, the rains got weaker deep in the desert.

    ...Each tree is a water reservoir, holding 75% of its weight, requiring up to 140 gallons per day. A million trees can hold 80 million gallons of water.

    ...All Deserts are Man-Made. Greenhouse gases form a blanket around the Earth, trapping in heat that would otherwise be radiated back to space. This causes the Earth's atmosphere to heat up. If the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase at its current rate, it will rise to double its pre-industrial level during the next century. Heat waves and droughts will become more common, and more intense.

    Moses said:

    The proper work of men is the undoing of deserts. 74,000 years ago, men were burning deserts into the hearts of America, Africa, Arabia, India, China, and Australia. [before there were men, there were no deserts.]

    (stolen entirely from here)

    Sat, Feb 27, 2010  Permanent link

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    First Dark     Mon, Mar 8, 2010  Permanent link
    While I sympathize with the concerns presented, I find the overall claim made above deeply suspect. Who is Dale McCrea and/or where are the sources? While human activity has no doubt caused and is causing many deserts to expand, the evidence suggests that some of the largest deserts, such as the Gobi, Mojave, and Sahara, were originally caused by natural processes.

    Here's an article by geologist Farouk El-Baz (+) as a counterbalance to your above post.
    Please consider.
    collective matt     Mon, Mar 8, 2010  Permanent link
    Thank you for your response. I'm only interested in the meme itself as googled: “all deserts are man-made." I too wouldn't support that claim, and I would never call it a fact. I also don't support the author's conclusion/solution and parts of his work, and that is why I only included sections of the article that interested me (the parts on trees).

    I should have made it clear that I copied this and it’s merely something that fascinates me and I wished to share. I'm more interested in how people perceive the impacts of their actions on the environment, and how people view areas such as natural deserts vs. man made wasteland. The loss of Paschalococos palms on Easter Island or the current destruction of the rainforest would be much better examples of human caused destruction.

    What does interest me is man’s relationship with trees, especially regarding old-growth and dense forest, and how we may have squandered this immensely valuable resource in the past, but are now realizing its potential. “Save the rainforest” shouldn’t be a cliché saying. Instead of watching the bulldozers, politicians are watching the thermometer.

    I appreciate your correction to my implied conclusion, as misinformation can be dangerous in these times.
    First Dark     Mon, Mar 8, 2010  Permanent link
    Thanks for clarifying, I'm glad to hear it. Yeah, Easter Island is basically a miniature version of global civilization today. I recently attended a Jared Diamond lecture and at one point he highlighted a darkly amusing, but important question to consider:

    What was the person who cut down the last tree on Easter Island thinking?

    His students, who had first brought the question to his attention, came up with a variety of answers, all of which can be heard today in defense of overconsumption and the exploitation of our planet's resources: "I own this land so I can do whatever I want with it!", "Don't worry, I'm sure technology will save us", etc.
    collective matt     Mon, Mar 8, 2010  Permanent link
    It's sad but in a capitalist society, that last tree would have been worth A LOT of money. I would even guess that as soon as the islanders were aware of their predicament things only got worse as everyone scrambled to build boats, etc. with the last few remaining trees.