IGN 9-6 - Is desertification a dirty word?

Thursday, August 11, 2016
316, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Brandon T. Bestelmeyer, Jornada Basin LTER
Desertification refers to land degradation in drylands. The term is widely used in ecology and is the basis for a United Nations convention. At best, it is a vague term. At worst, it has been referred to as the “lie of the land” and a tool by which powerful actors disenfranchise less powerful ones. I argue that reference to specific state change processes can promote solutions. Desertification in reference to ecological processes should be stricken from scientific discourse. Nonetheless, like other dirty words, “desertification” draws attention to critical problems.