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Sample Essay on Environmental Degradation and Pollution of the Sahara Desert

Environmental Degradation and Pollution of the Sahara Desert

Brief Overview of the Sahara Desert

The Sahara desert is the located in North Africa and is the largest hot desert in the world. It is spread across a number of countries within the continent and occupies approximately 10% of Africa. It is 9,100,000 km2.The desert has arid and hyper arid conditions. It is also known for extreme temperatures.

There is minimal vegetation cover in the Sahara desert and precipitation in most of the parts is low and scanty. Rainfall precipitation is between 0-25mm per annum and it can take a couple of years before the desert experiences rain. The desert’s surface is also divided into different ranges of surfaces. There are parts of the desert that are composed of gravel plains while others are made up of stone plateaus, salt flats and sand dunes.

Temperatures vary in the desert. Days and nights usually have extreme temperature ranges. A day can be as hot as 37 degrees while nights can get as cold as below zero degrees. The hot winds also tend to make the days seem hotter as the blow hot dust over the desert. Areas in the desert that have stone plateaus also experience colder weather especially during the night. Both the northern and southern ends of the Sahara have more vegetation because these experience precipitation more often.

Pollution within the Sahara Desert

Despite the extreme conditions in the Sahara, there are animals and plants that grow and thrive in this desert. order-buttonPollution within the deserts is that of great concern. The Sahara was not always a hot hyper arid mass of land. In the previous 5000 years, the whole of North Africa, including the Sahara was covered with water. However, degradation of the environment slowly eroded the water and created the desert. In the recent past, the following are some of the concerns that environmentalists have raised over pollution within the Sahara desert:

  • Diversion of water from aquifers. Despite the extreme lack of water in the Sahara desert, there exist aquifers below the hard desert rocks. These are underground rocks that store water deep within the earth. Algeria and Tunisia have recently begun projects that divert the water from these aquifers to the countries’ water reservoirs in a bid to meet their citizens’ needs. Environmentalists have warned that these projects will drain the desert further and cause soil degradation as well as massive erosion.
  • Hunting of endemic desert animals. Animals such as desert antelopes and the sand cat have always thrived in the desert. Yet they remain an endangered species because of the amount of hunting that goes on in the desert. Hunters in the Sahara range from the inhabitants of the desert who live on its edges to visitors who tour the desert for hunting purposes. There are some animals which have already become extinct because of the hunting activities.
  • Desiccation of the land. The fact that the Sahara desert is not well protected makes it susceptible to encroachment. There are North African tribes that live off the desert. These are mainly nomadic tribes and they continue to deplete the scanty resources of the desert even further. Resources such as the oases are fast draining because of occupation of the desert.

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