FOCUS On Desertification – Misleading Its Readers
In yet another “we’re all threatened by climate change” piece, the German online FOCUS magazine presents here a piece on the desertification of the earth, of course all worsened by climate change. FOCUS quotes a source:
Almost 33.3% of the earth’s surface is threatened by so-called desertification.
Right off the bat I have trouble with that statement because we know that only 29% of the earth is land. Does that mean 4% of the Earth’s water surface is about to dry up?
FOCUS reports that poor nations of Africa are the most threatened by the spread of desertification. But looking at the Sahara, there’s scientific literature that shows the opposite is happening. For example a 2009 National Geographic report relies on scientific literature and says:
Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent.
Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall.
Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences.
Sounds like good news to me. So why does FOCUS peddle something that’s so misleading? Well, just take a look at its source of information: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit, in English: German Society For Technical Cooperation. It’s a private company owned by the German government, that promotes sustainanble development and…well, you get the picture. Perhaps FOCUS should rely more on scientific literature in the future.
Finally, and interestingly, National Geographic also attempts to project future trends for the Sahara, but finds it’s a very difficult and complicated task. It quotes Martin Claussen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, who says:
Half the models follow a wetter trend, and half a drier trend.
And so much for the climate models!