Prepare: In this discussion post you will be considering the role of land degradation, desertification, and biodiversity loss in an ecosystem. Land degradation can be caused by extreme weather conditions such as drought and coastal surges. However, it is also caused by human activities that degrade the productivity of the soil and impact the production of ecosystem goods and services (Land degradation and desertification, n.d.). In the past century, the growing pressures of agricultural and livestock production, urbanization, and deforestation have significantly contributed to land degradation and desertification (Land degradation and desertification, n.d.). As you are reading the reports and watching the movie take notes on how these social, economic, and policy factors contribute to land degradation and desertification.
Land degradation and desertification also impacts human health and well-being. The degradation of land puts considerable stress of food-producing systems which often leads to malnutrition. Water scarcity and air pollutants are also associated with land degradation. As you learned in Week Two, the lack of clean water and poor hygiene can cause higher incidences of water- and food-borne diseases (Land degradation and desertification, n.d.). Likewise, in Week One you learned that wind erosion and air pollutants cause higher rates of respiratory diseases in populations. Dryland climates, created through land degradation and desertification, lead to poverty, emigration, and overall reduced human well-being. The migration of populations from dryland areas to more hospitable areas often leads to the spread of infectious diseases.

• How would you define land degradation, desertification, biodiversity, and ecosystem collapse?
• What are the primary social, economic, and policy factors that contribute to ecosystem degradation?
• How do these factors put pressure of food systems and the availability of food and water in affected areas?
• How does the loss of biodiversity impact human health?
• How can you incorporate the information you learned about air pollution and changes to the hydrological system from Weeks One and Two into this discussion?

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