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Of all the environmental challenges we face, soil degradation is the most serious. Discuss this statement.

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Introduction

Andrea Calderon Environment and Sustainability Essay 27.09.12 ?Of all the environmental challenges we face, soil degradation is the most serious.? Discuss this statement. Soil degradation is a severe reduction in the quality of soils. It involves both the physical loss and the reduction in quality of topsoil. It mostly includes erosion by wind and water, biological degradation (the loss of humus and plant/animal life), physical degradation (loss of structure, changes in permeability), and chemical degradation (acidification, declining fertility, changed in pH, etc.). It happens due to the replacement of primary plant communities by secondary communities. It is also the result of human failures to understand and manage the soil. An environmental challenge can be defined as an environmental factor that is being conflicted upon by society and resulting in negative consequences. Other major examples of environmental challenges are climate change, water shortage, and the loss of biodiversity. Soil degradation is definitely one of the most serious environmental challenges out there today; stating that it is the most serious, however, is debatable. ...read more.

Middle

Unlike other environmental challenges such as water shortage, soil degradation could occur anywhere, not only in LEDCs. In fact, there is considerable soil degradation in richer countries such as the USA and Australia. In the central US, degradation is very severe. The Sahel has been one of the greatest victims to the effects of degradation. is an area of land south of the Sahara Desert, running from Mauritania in the west, through Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Sudan and across to Ethiopian in the west. It receives between 200mm and 600mm of rain annually. In recent years the Sahel has been suffering from increasing soil degradation and desertification. The main reasons for increasing soil degradation are population growth, deforestation, overgrazing, and rising temperatures. The rainfall that does take place tends to be shorter, more intense storms that have led to water erosion. It has cause many problems in the Sahel including famine, dust storms, and conflict over resources that are quickly diminishing. There are currently many other environmental challenges facing the world such as climate change, water shortage, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dust storms are occurring more frequently due to degradation; as soil become less stable because of the lack of vegetation it become much more vulnerable to wind erosion which can create large scale dust storms. Northern China is suffering from an increased frequency of dust storms as desertification takes place south of the Gobi Desert. Since the soil is susceptible to losing fertility, there could be reduced crop yields; this can lead to starvation and famine. With increasing soil degradation and reduction in agricultural output and available agricultural land, conflict can arise over diminishing resources, as previously mentioned this is currently the case in the Sahel desert. Other socioeconomic impacts include rural unemployment, migration, and silting of dams and reservoirs. When all aspects are taken into consideration and evaluated, the statement claiming that soil degradation is the most serious environmental challenge facing us today can?t be completely backed up because of the fact that soil degradation itself is the result of other major environmental challenges including climate change and biodiversity loss. It can, however, be classified as one of the most challenging because of the immense consequences that it is creating for our future world. ...read more.

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