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!

2 responses to “FOCUS On Desertification – Misleading Its Readers”

  1. Derek

    I remember learning about “desertification” way back when in the 1970s / 80s. I’ve said before AGW has gone all quiet on this particular subject – because satelites show the deserts are shrinking, NOT expanding. The world IS greening, BECAUSE of increased the atmospheric plant fertiliser we call increasing atmospheric levels of CO2.
    We don’t know why the levels have actually increased, many think it human emissions, others that (what were) rising ocean temperatures increased natural de-gassing – it is simply too complicated balance of sources, sinks both natural and anthropogenic, and the responses to changes of both) for us to know with any certainty at present.
    WE DO KNOW the deserts are shrinking because of increased atmospheric CO2 levels (causing plants to grow better AND require less water – that’s a biological fact).

    This is a “gate” isn’t it.?

  2. Brian H

    In the Holocene Optimum, with temps much warmer than projected now, the Sahara was green, the home of large herds of grazers and their predators, and was called “the grain house of Europe”.

    Cooling dried it out.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. More information at our Data Privacy Policy