Decade Of The Desert
"We as scientists do not understand the deserts, so how can we best know how to use them?" asks Farouk El-Baz, director of the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing. That basic lack of understanding that El-Baz perceives prompted him and fellow scientists from more than 20 countries to meet in Trieste, Italy, at a conference sponsored by the Third World Academy of Sciences and the Canadian International Development Agency. The attendees declared the 1990s the Decade of the Desert. Says El-Baz, who directed the conference: "We need that many years to understand changes in the [desert] environment," changes he says may be governed by the 11-year solar cycle. A key goal of the Decade of the Desert is to establish the International Center for Dryland Research, which would primarily function as a data storehouse. The Sudan government has so far donated a piece of land...

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