Posted by: Michael D. Austin | August 2, 2012

40 Million Annual Tons of Saharan Dust Feed the Amazon

The Bodélé depression, 17,000 square miles in the Sahara. Photo The Atlantic.

As a dedication in her 1973 book, Wholly Round, Rasa Gustaitis presents the Hindu proverb, “What is here is elsewhere. What is not here is nowhere.” What that means is pretty simple: if it exists, it affects other things. If it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t affect anything. For the Westerners among us, bear in mind that the Yoga Sutras are thought to have been written about 2,500 B.C.E.

Fans of quantum entanglement would appreciate this concept of distant effect as nonlocality. Aboriginal people might call it a Great Spirit. Environmentalists, geoscientists and earth spirits would all call it by different names. For the long time we’ve been on the life planet, we’ve spent the last 200 years trying to forget we have an impact. But it was never true we can’t have an impact, and never will be.

The spirit behind that Hindu proverb has informed my life and consciousness since I found Wholly Round in an Oxnard, California library around 1975. At that time, or even now, Oxnard would be the last place you’d surmise you’d find a book on cosmic consciousness. But, there it was, waiting for me.

Now slip through time to the present. From the pages of Atlantic magazine come this surprising little article demonstrating that we still don’t understand how Gaia functions. The Sahara desert sends 40 million tons a year of sand to the Amazon. In the article, “Today in Astonishment: The Amazon Rainforest Gets Half Its Nutrients From a Single, Tiny Spot in the Sahara”, the Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal explains that amounts to half the Amazon’s nutrients. I’d say that’s on the high side, but I would never feel like quibbling about such an inspiring, astonishing finding. Still, you might want to rethink the idea that deserts are wastelands.

For your salubrious astonishment, please read the article here.


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  1. […] effect on the west coast of the United States — and beyond. Or another example, that 40 million annual tons of Saharan dust feed the Amazon. There are myriad examples like […]

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