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  #1  
Old 20 Aug 2004
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Toyotarisation of the Sahara bad.

I saw this today...

4x4s replace the desert camel and whip up a worldwide dust storm

Winds carrying 3bn tonnes a year threaten environment and human health

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Friday August 20, 2004
The Guardian

Dust storms emanating from the Sahara have increased tenfold in 50 years, contributing to climate change as well as threatening human health and destroying coral reefs thousands of miles away.

And one major cause is the replacement of the camel by four-wheel drive vehicles as the desert vehicle of choice.

Andrew Goudie, professor of geography at Oxford University, blames the process of Toyotarisation - a coinage reflecting the near-ubiquitous desert use of Toyota Land Cruisers - for destroying a thin crust of lichen and stones that has protected vast areas of the Sahara from the wind for centuries.

Four-wheel drive use, along with overgrazing and deforestation, were the major causes of the world's growing dust storm problem, the scale of which was much bigger than previously realised, Prof Goudie, master of St Cross College, told the International Geographical Congress in Glasgow yesterday.

"I am quite serious, you should look at deserts from the air, scarred all over by wheel tracks, people driving indiscriminately over the surface breaking it up. Toyotarisation is a major cause of dust storms. If I had my way I would ban them from driving off-road."

The problem has become so serious that an estimated 2-3bn tonnes of dust is carried away on the wind each year. Storms in the Sahara transport dust high into the atmosphere and deposit it as far away as Greenland and the US.

Britain was seeing increasing levels of "blood rain" in spring that came direct from the Sahara, Prof Goudie said. From an aircraft over the Alps in summer it was possible to see the telltale colour of red dust on the mountains.

Although the storms are mainly particles of quartz, smaller than grains of sand, they also contain salt and quantities of pesticide and herbicide which can cause serious health problems. Microbe-laden dust from storms is also credited with carrying cattle diseases such as foot and mouth.

The world's largest single dust source is the Bodélé depression in Chad, between an ever-shrinking Lake Chad (now a twentieth of its size in the 1960s) and the Sahara. The depression releases 1,270m tonnes of dust a year, 10 times more than when measurements began in 1947, according to Prof Goudie's research.

Taking the whole Sahara, and the Sahel to the south, dust volumes had increased four to sixfold since the 1960s. Countries worst affected were Niger, Chad, northern Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, the research found.

Smothering of coral reefs


But the effects went far beyond. In the Caribbean, scientists had directly linked the death of coral reefs to smothering by dust which had travelled 3,000 miles.

African dust had also found its way to Greenland, Prof Goudie said. While white ice reflected sunlight and remains frozen, the dark dust on top absorbed the sun's heat, causing the ice to melt and accelerating the raising of sea levels.

Prof Goudie said it was as yet uncertain what other effects the dust was having on the climate. The airborne dust both reflected sunlight back into space and blanketed the earth holding the heat in. When it dropped in the sea it fertilised the plankton which absorbed carbon dioxide and cooled the ocean surface, creating fewer clouds and less rain - a vicious circle which made the dust problem worse.

Where the dust source was the dried-up bed of a salt lake or sea, salt deposited from the storms could ruin agricultural land, leading to more deserts and more dust. There might be more serious consequences for human health emerging elsewhere in the world.

The Aral Sea in central Asia had almost dried up, according to the research. Its inflowing rivers were used for irrigating cotton, causing the seabed to be contaminated by pesticide toxins which were now being blown about in the dust. People who have breathed in the dust have serious allergic reactions.

Prof Goudie also warned that climate change might cause dust problems to return to the US prairies. While improved agricultural practices, wind breaks and higher rainfall had cured the Dust Bowl of the 1930s (immortalised in John Steinbeck's novel the Grapes of Wrath), the conditions were once again similar. Dust storms were now common in the US and could lead to a disease, Valley Fever, an allergic reaction to pesticides in the dust which caused inflammation of the nose and throat, killing several people a year.

In China, extensive efforts had been made to plant trees to hold back the dust, and increases in rainfall had also helped, the study found. However, large dust storms were still emanating from the vast deserts in the north, which included the Lopnor nuclear test site - raising fears that storms could interfere with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and might contain radioactive particles. The Chinese have said they were confident this would not happen.

Choking storms hit far and wide

· Dust storms are typically 200km (125 miles) wide and carry 20 to 30m tonnes of dust. Some carry up to 100m tonnes

· Worldwide dust in the atmosphere is predicted to be 2bn-3bn tonnes this year

· Florida receives more than 50% of the African dust that hits the US, causing increased respiratory problems

· Mauritania, which had two dust storms a year in the early 1960s, now has 80 a year

· The worst dust storm to reach Britain was in 1903 when an estimated 10m tonnes landed from the Sahara

http://www.guardian.co.uk/climatecha...287212,00.html
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Old 20 Aug 2004
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The Indie has it too...

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

20 August 2004

There is an environmental problem that is just beginning to be recognised as being of global significance: "Toyota-isation".

The surfaces of deserts are being broken up by four-wheel drive vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Japanese version of the Land Rover and a great favourite with drivers in the Sahel, the dry states to the south of the Sahara, as well as many other challenging places.

The surface disturbance is proceeding at such a rate in Africa, the Middle East and Asia that it is contributing substantially to a rise in dust storms, and to an increase in dust in the global atmosphere generally, which could have serious climatic and health repercussions. Andrew Goudie, the professor of geography at Oxford University, told the International Geographical Congress in Glasgow that annual dust production in some parts of north Africa had increased ten-fold in the past 50 years, and that across the Sahel, from the Sudan to the Gulf of Guinea, it had increased six-fold since the 1960s.

Global dust emissions were between two and three billion tons a year, and this was even being felt in Britain, Professor Goudie said, with an increase in episodes of "blood rain" - the deposition of dust from the Sahara on the British land mass. "The world is getting a lot dustier," he said. The reasons included land use changes caused by growing populations, such as deforestation and overgrazing, but Toyota-isation, a word coined by him to mean disturbance by 4x4s, was a specific cause, the professor said.

"If you take almost any desert now, people go all over it in four-wheel drives," he said. "The number of four-wheel drives in the south-west US and indeed in the Middle East is staggering.

"The desert surfaces have been stable for thousands of years because they usually have a thin layer of lichen or algae, or gravel from which the fine sand has blown away. Once these surfaces are breached you get down to the fine sand again, which can be picked up by the wind."

The effect was particularly bad near cities. "If you take a city like Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, there are tracks leading out across the desert in all directions," he said.

Sand is often carried by the wind at the base of the storm. A typical storm could move on a front 100 kilometres or more across, and contain 30 to 40 million tons of dust. It was possible that disease-causing organisms - such as those responsible for foot-and-mouth disease - could be transported with it, the professor said.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...p?story=553288

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Old 20 Aug 2004
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Oh well, just another "mad professor" depleting global resources by wasting paper and ink and contributing to global warming by exhaling clouds of hot air as well as poluting the air by flying planes over the desert.

The thin line between environmental research fundraising and hoodwinking is becoming even thinner. Sadly, there are ever more scientis ready to cross it.

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Old 20 Aug 2004
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Just as well there is plenty of sand around to stick our heads in then ah Roman ;-)

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Old 20 Aug 2004
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Let's think positive - while the amount of sand on earth is not increasing due to this, it becomes more evenly distribuited among all nations. Why should the Touarges have all the fun? Why can't we have our own little desert in Oxfordshire, within commuting distance from St. Cross College?

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  #6  
Old 20 Aug 2004
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Just like nature intended then I guess...
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Old 20 Aug 2004
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One of the newspaper articles quotes the following:
"The world's largest single dust source is the Bodélé depression in Chad, between an ever-shrinking Lake Chad (now a twentieth of its size in the 1960s) and the Sahara. The depression releases 1,270m tonnes of dust a year, 10 times more than when measurements began in 1947, according to Prof Goudie's research."

Interestingly there is no data from the Bodele depression in Chad. There is bugger all in the Bodele depression apart from dust. So I'm not clear where the data from 1947 onwards come from.
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Old 21 Aug 2004
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Yes indeed,it never ceases to amaze me how well tracked the desert areas of the world are.Here in the ME the more responsible recreational drivers tend to stick to previous tyre tracks where possible in order to preserve the desert ecology but,I think the vitriolic proffessors are missing the point;which is that such areas have been opened up by the local people for the benefit of the local people,its called DEVELOPMENT and if they love sand more than raising the living standards of other people then stick them on the back of a camel and let them tend the flocks for a while!
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Old 22 Aug 2004
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"DEVELOPMENT"

yes, we know the effect of development...
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Old 22 Aug 2004
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Living in the past is selfish.After all whether we work in the 3w or pass by we are only tourists and have little rights other than an opinion!!G'day mates!!
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Old 23 Aug 2004
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What a load of honk!

Does that mean that 4x4 are driving over all of the desert, leaving no area untouched to break up all the surface? I don't think so.

Another 'expert' who jumps to conclusions too early in his research and his response to ban all 4x4 is laughable! How did he conduct his research? From the back of a 4x4 a I presume (unless he did it all from a camel!).

Rant over.

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Old 24 Aug 2004
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The interesting point is where our researcher got his knowledge:

In regions with grassland-vegetation, with rain there may be an upper surface hindering sand to be blown away. These are easier to reach - also for our researcher, and with some damage by (local?) 4x4s, we have a theory.

The big remaining question: Why are dunes then wandering? With a "stable surface", this should subsequently be impossible.

Write ketters to the editors stating the difference: there are FEW regions which should be left untouched, and most travellers understand and respect that. Some manicas (locals?) do not care and deliver the basis for such stories...it's a pitty, but that's life.

Peter
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Old 24 Aug 2004
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It's an interesting topic, and as an owner of 3 4x4s, amongst others, I do try to be aware of the environment and especially the fragile desert ecologies.

The newsletter in the latest edition of "The Survivor", the newsletter of a group based in the US has an interesting article about the misuse of OHV (off-highway vehicles) in the deserts in the US. Of course, these areas in the US are very accessable to people with a high disposable income and, by the sounds of it, little intelligence or consideration. I've seen some appaling behavior on the trails in the US, but for the most part people are sensitive to these issues. Seems like the greenlane issue in the UK...

Anyway, starting to get OT so I'll be quiet now!

Cheers,
Nick.

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Old 24 Aug 2004
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I forgot the link to the newsletter I mentioned.

http://www.desert-survivors.org/dese...newsletter.htm

Cheers,
Nick.

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Old 24 Aug 2004
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Hello guys,

I am worried, too, by the devastation caused by the 4x4 vehicles. But what we have discussed so far pales into insignificance when you realize how irresponsible some people can be. Just look at this picture: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/as17-138-21039.jpg

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