In fields like economics, people tend to think that catastrophic events like droughts, floods, desertification, landslides, soil erosion etc. are events which are linked to global climate change and global $\ce{CO2}$ emissions or they think these events could be exogeneous events (they argue that floods come from the massive rainfalls which are due to whole climate change problem or they think that droughts are mainly caused by the average increase of global temperature).

In some sense, I agree with these arguments but my intuition is that events like droughts, floods and desertification are events which are also due to local activities, such as deforestation or loss of wetlands.

I explain this intuition in more detail. When we cut down trees, this reduces the land's ability to absorb water from rainfall and this directly increases the frequency and severity of floods. I know that deforestation in Indonesia contributes to the whole climate change problem but are there not any local impacts of this deforestation in Indonesia directly concerning droughts and floods on this region?

Morgano et al. (2014) shows that there exists a massive deforestation in Indonesia. So, in this case, does the risk of having more floods, desertification and droughts increase directly in Indonesia or around this region?

Is this a legitimate idea or are there any academic papers which link the frequency of catastrophic events like droughts, floods and desertification to local activities, like deforestation,

I make the same reasoning for the drought problem.

This link shows how drought frequency in Sub Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America has increased between 1990-2010 relatively to periods 1950-1990.


(Source for graphics : Spinoni et al. World drought frequency, duration, and severity for 1951-2010-International Journal of Climatology)

Most of FAO reports and other academic papers point out the deforestation and inappropriate use of water resources in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.

In this case, can we attribute the increase of frequency and severity of droughts in this region (and other possible events in this region) due to the bad use of this natural capital ?

I really appreciate if there are some references for the local impacts of inappropriate use of natural capital.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There are cases that prove the opposite (local impacts of appropriate use): reforestation on a quite limited scale can immediately influence the local climate - would these examples suit you? Look at e.g. this effort at 15:00 $\endgroup$
    – Jan Doggen
    Feb 11 '16 at 16:35

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