– THE EARTH’S SPREADING DESERTS –
Only a generation ago, Mauritania’s capital city was many days’ walk from the Sahara. Today it is in the Sahara. The sand blows \ through the city streets and piles up against walls and fences. The desert stretches out as far as the eye can see.
In some parts of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, all the trees have been cut down. The earth lies bare and dry in the hot sun. Nothing grows there anymore. Over vast areas of every continent, the rainfall and vegetation necessary for life are disappearing. Already more than 40 per cent of the earth’s land is desert or desert-like.
About 628 million people (one out of seven) live in these dry regions. In the past, they have managed to survive, but with difficulty. Now, largely through problems caused by modern life, their existence is threatened by the slow, steady spread of the earth’s deserts. Many countries first became concerned about the subject in the 4 1970’s after a terrible drought and famine destroyed Africa’s Sahel, the fragile desert along the south edge of the Sahara.
Thousands of people died even though there was a worldwide effort to send food and medicine to the starving people. Droughts and crop failures are not new in desert regions. They have been a fact of life for thousands of years.
However, few people lived in desert regions in the past. They kept few animals and they moved frequently. Today’s problems are caused in great part by distinctly modern factors. www.Newsky24.com . In the Sahel, for example, Africans benefited from improvements in public health and modern farming methods. New water wells encouraged people to settle down on the land near the wells.
The population grew. Farmers planted more crops and enlarged their herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. They became dependent on the new wells. When the drought came, the crops failed and the cattle ate all the grass around the overworked wells. The fragile land quickly iost its topsoil and became nothing but sand end dust.
Many countries are experiencing similar problems. Poor land is farmed until it is worn out, and trees are cut for firewood, leaving the sou unprotected against wind and rain. In Peru, Chile, and Brazil, some areas that were once covered with forests now look like the moon. In India, some areas have been so badly damaged by fanning and nee cutting that mud now flows into the Indus and Ganges rivers.
Cattle, sheep, and goats add to the problem by eating grass and other plants faster than they can grow back. In the United States, some highly populated areas (such as Los Angeles) are really deserts. Water must be earned through pipes from hundreds of miles away and tjhiş. affects the water supply of other California communities.
Scientists still do not understand all the complex problems of the desert, but there have been many ideas for saving the land Saudi Arabia has planted 10 million trees to prevent the sand from taking over fertile areas. The Israelis are again using some of the water collection systems left by the ancient peoples in the Negev desert. They plan to water their orchards with the extra water.
Some Sahel farmers still raise cattle on their poor farmland, but before the cattle are sold, they are taken to greener lands in the south to get fat. The spread of the deserts affects most countries. The big question today is, how can an expanding world population find food and space without destroying the land it lives on?
For many countries, fighting the desert is the only chance to avoid starvation, destruction, and disaster.
A. Mark the best choice.
1. Line 8, ‘vegetation’ probably means
a) plants b) oxygen c) animals d) people
2. Line 16, ‘drought and famine’ probably means
a) earthquake and flood c) lack of water and lack of food
b) too much rain and soil erosion d) desert and forest
3. Line 28, ‘herds’ probably means
a) profit b) groups c) homes d) water
4. Line 35, ‘unprotected against’ probably means
a) open to b) on fire c) wet with d) covered with
5. Line 38, ‘mud’ probably means
a) crops b) pieces of wood c) chemicals d) wet soil
6. Line 56, ‘avoid’ probably means a) provide b) pollute c) stop d) develop
B. What do the following refer to?
1. ‘If (line 2):
2. ‘there’ (line 7):
3. ‘their existence’ (line 13): the existence of people who
4. ‘They’ (line 28):
5. ‘its’ (line 31):
6. ‘they’ (line 40):
7. ‘this’ (line 43):
8. ‘they’ (line 52):
9. ‘it’ (line 55):
C. Which paragraph focuses on each of these ideas as the main idea?
Write the paragraph number in the provided blank.
1. Examples of countries which are in danger of becoming completely a desert.
2. The disaster which made people realize that there is a problem.
3. Some suggested solutions to the problems of spreading deserts.
D. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. Mauritania is a country in Africa.
2. About 60 per cent of the earth’s land is hot and dry and does not receive any rain.
3. Improvements in modern life may result in problems.
4. Farming and tree cutting are the only reasons for the growth of deserts.
5. Trees cannot grow in Saudi Arabia because there is no water there.