Globally, Land Degrading Faster Than Expected

Mar 27, 2009

A fascinating yet terrifying new study finds that 24% of the Earth's land is degrading, some of it formerly quite productive. This is the first accurate satellite based quantification of land degradation.

A fascinating yet terrifying new study finds that 24% of the Earth's land is degrading, some of it formerly quite productive. This is the first accurate satellite based quantification of land degradation. Prior to this it was assumed to be limited to 15%. Land degradation -- the decline in the quality of soil, water and vegetation -- is of profound importance. Comparison with land use reveals that 19% of the degrading area is cropland and 43% forest, releasing at least a billion tons of carbon in 22 years at a cost of at least $50 billion. Old forest logging, biofuel plantations, urban sprawl, climate change, water diversion and countless other methodical diminishments of intact natural ecosystems are to blame. As goes the land (and sky and water and oceans and animals) will go humanity.