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Sustainability of the Drylands across Eurasia: Interdependency of Nature and Societies
Asian Dryland Belt (ADB) – a region that contains the ancient Silk Road – has been the primary route for migration and cultural exchange across Eurasia as well as trade between East Asia and Europe for centuries. The ADB includes three broadly-defined subregions: Middle East, Central Asia, and East Asia. Land degradation and land use conversion have occurred at an alarming rate across the region, with shrublands and savannas showing a high degree of turnover across the ADB. Meanwhile, the long term changes in annual precipitation and temperature showed uneven spatial distributions with the numerous hotspots of drying or wetting trends that do not always correspond with the land use. Here I use the relative values of LEI (life expectancy index), GDPp (gross domestic production per capita), and GPPp (gross primary production per capita) to represent “EconSys”, “EcoSys”, and “SocSys”, respectively, and to calculate a new sustainable index (SI) for the 22 political entities in 17 countries during 1992-2016. The balance of the three systems (EconSys, EcoSys SocSys) exhibits distinct temporal trends over the study period. Changes in relationships among LEI, GDPp, and GPPp show that Macro-Socioeconomic and Ecological System (SES) in East Asia have been very directional and dynamic, with more stable for the Central Asia and more variable for the Middle East. The sustainability over the study period seem also attributable to armed conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria) or to reorientation toward a market-driven economy (Mongolia and China).
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