Africans are building a Great Green Wall of trees across the continent to slow down the Saharan
via Afar
True

Twenty-one African countries have come together in an attempt to stop the Sahara desert from encroaching further south. Their mission: plant a 4,750-mile-long wall of trees.

When completed, the Great Green Wall will extend from sea to sea and reclaim 247 million acres. It'll stretch from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, and will be three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef. The massive reforestation project will sequester 250 million tons of carbon.

The countries hope to have the wall completed by 2030.

The Sahara in northern Africa is the world's largest desert (as large as the U.S.) and renowned for it's extreme temperatures. A peer-reviewed study by the journal Climate found that between 1920 and 2013, the desert has expanded southward by 10%. The study says its expansion has been caused by man-made climate change as well as natural climate cycles such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

If the situation is allowed to continue, the desert is likely to expand into the more fertile parts of Africa.


The southern border of the Sahara is an area called the Sahel, an arid transition zone that is a point of demarcation between the desert, and the more lush, fertile savanna to the south. As the Sahara expands, the Sahel retreats, resulting in a mass migration of people, and a major disruption of the region's fertile grasslands.

via Wikimedia Commons

The initiative began in 2007 and 15% of the trees have been planted.

Ethiopia: 36 million acres of degraded land restored, land tenure security improved

Senegal: 11.4 million trees planted, 6200 acres of degraded land restored

Nigeria: 12 million acres of degraded land restored and 20, 000 jobs created

Sudan: 5,000 acres of land restored

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger: Approximately 120 communities have come together to plant a green belt over more than 6200 acres of degraded and dry lands. More than two million seeds and seedlings have been planted from fifty native species of trees.

The wall is made with drought-resistant trees that protect the soil from erosion, act as a barrier to the coarse Saharan winds and filter rainwater back into the ground. These newly green areas have created farming land for the indigenous people to plant vegetable gardens.

The Green Wall also safeguards the indigenous people against potential environmental problems. Patches of seedlings can become emergency food for cattle when the rains are late, fruit from the trees can be harvested or sold and trees can be cut for firewood.

The project has also resulted in thousands of jobs for area residents. This has helped to curb the large migration of people from the Sahel.

The Great Green Wall is another project that shows how doing something good for the environment can have a ripple effect that helps an entire region heal economically and culturally.

Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

Keep Reading Show less

Here we are, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, and people are tired. We're tired of social distancing, wearing masks, the economic uncertainty, the constant debates and denials, all of it.

But no one is more tired than the healthcare workers on the frontline. Those whom we celebrated and hailed as heroes months ago have largely been forgotten as news cycles shift and increased illness and death become "normal." But they're still there. They're still risking themselves to save others. And they've been at it for a long time.

Mary Katherine Backstrom shared her experience as the wife of an ER doctor in Florida, explaining the impact this pandemic is having on the people treating its victims and reminding us that healthcare workers are still showing up, despite all of the obstacles that make their jobs harder.

Keep Reading Show less
Mozilla
True
Firefox

When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less

Kids say the darnedest things and, if you're a parent, you know that can make for some embarrassing situations. Every parent has had a moment when their child has said something unintentionally inappropriate to a stranger and they prayed they wouldn't take it the wrong way.

Cassie, the mother of 4-year-old Camryn, had one of the those moments when her child yelled, "Black lives matter" to a Black woman at a Colorado Home Depot.

But the awkward interaction quickly turned sweet when the Black woman, Sherri Gonzales, appreciated the comment and thanked the young girl.

Keep Reading Show less