As desertification gains ground in Africa, COP 15 opens today in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Less well-known than its big sister who is committed to the climate, this fifteenth conference of the parties is devoted to the theme ‘Earth. To live. Legacy: from scarcity to prosperity. Focus on the king of the desert, the cactus: against all odds, it too is threatened by global warming.
In Africa, 319 million hectares are threatened by desertification
Natural or not, desertification is a process of land degradation. It arises from climate change and/or the consequences of human activities. As indicated International mail, all continents are exposed to this risk. However, Africa is particularly vulnerable to the phenomenon of desertification: 319 million hectares are under threat, with a large rural population that will necessarily be affected.
For cacti it will sting!
They are the kings of the desert, known for their exceptional resistance to drought: these are the cacti. We are used to them guarding an environment hostile to life. However, cacti are also threatened by global warming: according to a recent study by the University of Arizona in the United States, 60% of cacti species are endangered. If agriculture and urbanization are taken into account, that figure will rise to 90% by 2070.
Originally from America, cacti arrived in Africa on the wind, carried by migratory birds. RFIA reminds us that they have adapted to the desert climate by mimicking the strategy of succulents: their spines are formidable moisture sensors. At night, atmospheric water condenses on the tip and then forms a droplet that eventually drains away.
Only here it is still necessary that rain falls. And under the scorching sun of the coming years, the conclusion is clear: even the cacti are getting too hot.
†The whole world is a cactus”, Jacques Dutronc sings. Let’s hope the future doesn’t prove him right, let’s mobilize.