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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Greener

Two environmental trends headed in a good direction

Update: I failed to make clear that negative numbers in the drought severity index implies worse droughts. The two findings below contradict each other. Here is another "greening", of the Sahel:

 

 

On the day that a famine is declared in Africa -- thanks as much to Somalia's political dysfunctionality as to a severe drought -- comes news that the world drought severity index has been falling for three decades. You can check for yourself by going here and clicking on "make time series":

 

 

At the same time,  a new paper finds that the world is getting greener, not browner:

By analyzing "recent inventory data and long-term field observations coupled to statistical or process models" Pan et al. conclude that "the global net forest C sink was 1.0 ± 0.8 and 1.2 ± 0.9 PgC yr-1 for 1990-1999 and 2000-2007"-indicating that the terrestrial forest sink has been at least consistent, if not expanding, over at least the past 18 years (1990-2007).