Taming the Sahara: Tunisia Shows a Way While Others Falter
Borowiec surveys North African history and current efforts to halt the movement of the Sahara into surrounding countries. He shows how efforts in Tunisia are making headway against this ecological disaster, which confronts not only North Africa but Southern Europe and possibly the world in general.Veteran North African observer Andrew Borowiec surveys the history of the countries surrounding the Sahara, showing that Tunisia is the only country actively resisting the encroachment. Using onsite visits, interviews, and an examination of government records and newspaper accounts, he examines how Tunisians are pursuing a bold approach to the problem. He shows how Tunisia-a small, poor, but ambitious country-is taming the world's largest desert by erecting barriers against sandstorms, controlling urbanization, experimenting with farming, settling nomads, and successfully exploiting the desert as a major tourist attraction. Their efforts illustrate that there are ways to fight a major ecological disaster that demands serious attention across the globe.To many, Sahara is a magic word-a sea of sand. The desert has always fascinated explorers, geographers, environmentalists, and novelists, who turned to it for inspiration and adventure. Yet the Sahara poses an increasing challenge to humanity. Lakes that once dotted parts of the desert are drying up, such as Lake Chad, the continent's fourth largest lake, which has shrunk by 92 percent. As oases and grazing areas are abandoned, the region's population loses its livelihood and chances for survival, resulting in social and political upheaval. The Sahara's encroachment is a disaster for large portions of Africa, but it is also affecting Europe and perhaps the world in general. Windblown Saharan sand reaches Rome, Athens, Spain, France, and Turkey, and the resultant climatic and agricultural changes are only beginning to be studied-and feared.
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