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25% of India’s Total Geographic Area is Undergoing Desertification, 32% Undergoing Land Degradation

A desertification/land degradation status mapping effort by researchers from the Indian Space Applications Centre in collaboration with 17 other agencies and institutions found that 81.45 million hectares—24.78% of the total geographic area, TGA, of the country—is undergoing desertification. The total area undergoing processes of land degradation is 105.48 million hectares (32.07% of TGA). A paper on their work was published in Current Science, a journal of the Indian Academy of Sciences.

India occupies only 2.4% of the world’s geographical area, yet supports about 16.7% of the world’s human population; it has only 0.5% of the world’s grazing land but supports 18% of the world’s cattle population. Thus there is tremendous pressure on our land-based natural resources. India is endowed with a variety of soils, climate, biodiversity and ecological regions.

About 50.8 Mha land area (15.8% of the country’s geographical area) is arid, 123.4 Mha (37.6%) is semi-arid and 54.1 Mha (16.5%) area falls in the dry subhumid region. All put together, about 228 Mha area, i.e. 69% of the geographic area of the country is dry land (arid, semiarid and dry subhumid). Appropriate action plan for arresting land degradation and desertification requires information on the area and the spatial distribution of the land undergoing different processes of degradation.

—Ajai et al.

Water erosion (26.21 Mha), wind erosion (17.77 Mha), vegetal degradation (17.63 Mha) and frost shattering (9.47 Mha) are the major processes of desertification in India. There are about eight major processes of land degradation active in the country. Water erosion is the most pronounced process, followed by vegetal degradation and eolian processes.

Desertification/land degradation status map of India. Source: Ajai et al. Click to enlarge.




As India increases it's population and it's grazing and crop land decreases, it will increasingly turn to technology to (bring money to) feed it's people.

I propose we institute some programs to help preserve what farm land remains in the US.

Something like corn for conversion into ethanol for energy (this would also reduce oil imports) to increase the demand for corn and increase farm profitability.

We could switch farm output from ethanol production to food production as India and others (even the US)overpopulate their countries and degrade their land.


China is seeing many acres turn to desert every day. This is a BIG problem and one that needs to be addressed. Converging factors are not looking good for a stable and prosperous future.

In the 1930s turning the sod exposed the prairie to drying out the soil and the Dust Bowl occurred. Since then we have implemented better farming practices, but the under ground aquifers are depleting.

Using drip irrigation saves water, but costs money. There may come a time when we will see that it costs more to ignore what needs to be done and we will get on with implementing the right programs, but as long as it is a local bottom line mentality, it will not be done.


Maybe this will be a wake-up call for them to have a national birth control policy & stop treating cows as holy - because they're not.


Cows are indeed holy. If everyone lived as simply as the average Indian (not recommended), we wouldn't be in such an environmental mess.

Smaller families come with female empowerment. When Indian men further respect the reproductive rights of Indian women, the population will stabilize. This cultural change, well underway in the cities, is now proceeding in the countryside.

India can afford to hire low wage workers to build and install irrigation systems. If it gets worse, they'll probably act more effectively.

But is this a sustainable mobility article?

Will S

Let's not miss the obvious global warming causes;

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation said here on Thursday that climate change was likely to have a greater impact on India compared to other countries similarly positioned


There's another threat to farm productivity; dwindling fossil fuel supplies. Almost all the mobile equipment used on a farm is diesel powered [as are the trucks and trains that transport the food away from the farms], most of chemicals[pesticides/herbicides] are made from petrochemicals and natural gas is the most used hydrogen donor in the production of nitrogen based fertilizers.

When oil prices go up so do food prices and without fossil fuels, or some replacement, farm productivity could be reduced to 1/3.


JC: I agree that we're in an "environmental mess". Amazon rainforest deforestation is disgusting...horribly flawed development & urban/suburban planning in America is also sickening - but America's problems don't let 2nd and 3rd world countries off the hook or warrant a redistribution of wealth to be poured down rat holes.


What will happen when China's and India's per capita GHG reaches USA/Canada's, i.e. ismultiplied by about 5x to 8x?

Will we cry out loud that they have no right to do that to us and the world?

What would happen if Africa's per capita GHG is also increased to our current level or multiplied by 10x to 15x?

It would be something to hear/read/see our reactions.

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