The Destruction of the Environment in/of the Muslim World


This author, back in the early 1990s, concluded that North Africans were zooming to disaster, and Algeria, his home country, the fastest of the lot.[1] Farmland was being ransacked, the water table over-exploited, and regions with former agricultural potential turned into wastelands, with yields falling in parts by up to 90%.[2] More recent studies have confirmed the dire situation.[3] The population remains concentrated in the coastal parts of the North, and so is nearly all economic activity. Population is increasing fast, and so is increased demand for foods and goods. Irregular and inadequate rainfall, a fragile ecosystem, high erosion rates due to mismanagement and over-exploitation of the land, deforestation and destruction of vegetal cover, harsh climatic conditions, all impoverish further an already impoverished soil, and climate is changing for the worse. In words, we have all the ingredients for future disaster.[4] And this is common to most Muslim countries, some of them worse than the rest.

In order to increase the output of their ailing farming sector, Muslims have resorted to the over-exploitation of their scarce water resources, and now are near to utterly exhausting them. Also, for the same purposes, they overused chemicals. The use of NPK fertilisers in Arab countries, for instance, quadrupled between 1970 and 2002, with the UAE and Egypt (more than 900 kg fertilisers per hectare), Oman (644 kg), and Lebanon (414 kg) using some of the highest quantities of fertilisers per hectare in the world.[5] Such a use in fact makes soils sterile. Moreover, there are hardly regulations and controls over the sale, handling, and use of pesticides, and accredited pesticide residue analysis laboratories are not available in most Arab countries.[6] And so, all they end up with is a sterile soil and a population with as many chemicals in its bodies.

This destruction occurs when we know that the Muslim world is located in the most fragile part of the planet.

world map showing desertification vulnerability

Because of these two factors, the fragility of the environment and the high

destruction rates, it is very likely that the Muslim world will face some of the most disastrous outcome ever suffered by humanity between now and the years 2040s-2050s, with at least millions of casualties; perhaps tens of millions.

There should be normally solutions to fight desertification and environmental degradation, preserving the existing forests, protecting lands, particularly those at high risks, and devising water saving schemes as urgent priorities.[7] But it is the very reverse which is happening. This author examines these issues in his book:

 

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Footnotes for The Destruction of the Environment in/of the Muslim World

  1. S.E Zaimeche (1991): ‘Feeding the population in semi arid lands: An assessment of the conditions of three North African countries: Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.’ Maghreb Review, Vol 16. Nos 3-4; pp. 165-77.
  2. R A 1353, 3 to 10 February 1990 devoted to the Mascara region; pp. 28-30; A A 1262: 21-27 Dec 1989, page 13; For the destruction in the 1970s and 1980s, see l’Agriculture Algerienne first edition, 1984, EdiAfric, la documentation Africaine, Paris; p. 1; for the destruction in the 2000s, see the appropriate chapters that would follow, and also see FAO sources.
  3. World Bank: Natural Disasters in the Middle East and North Africa: A Regional Overview, 2014; see also WFP: Food in an Uncertain Future, London, Cairo, 2015.
  4. N. Gaaloul: The Role of Groundwater During Drought in Tunisia in F. Zereini and H. Hötzl Eds: Climatic Changes and Water Resources in the Middle East and North Africa, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2008, pp. 239-266. Maria sarraf and abdeljaouad Jorio: The Case of Morocco in Lelia Croitoru and Maria Sarraf Ed: The Cost of Environmental Degradation. Morocco.” Country Pasture/Forage Resources Profile, FAO, Rome. At:http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Counprof/Morocco/morocco.htm. World Bank: 2003: “Kingdom of Morocco: Cost Assessment of Environmental Degradation.’ Report 25992-MOR, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank, Washington, DC.
  5. M.K. Tolba and N. Saab ed: Arab Environment, Future Challenges; AFED, Beirut, 2008; p. xv.
  6. Ibid.
  7. See for instance H.N. Le Houerou: Recovery from desertization, Development Digest, vol XVI, January 1978, p. 86 ff.