WIND-RIPPLED DRIFTS of gypsum sand blanket this desert landscape like a fall of snow at New Mexico's White Sands National Monument. A tall yucca plant blooms in solitude.

1
Scorched Belts
on the Earth

Most of the people on this earth dwell in its moister climates, which are the most hospitable to life. Most of them have never ventured into a desert, or wanted to. For in folklore the arid areas that cover a seventh of the globe's land surface are a forbidding wasteland--sun-seared and wind-scoured, waterless and endless, empty of shelter and, except for venomous creatures lurking under the rocks, largely devoid of life. The legendary image of the desert is an utterly hostile one. In actuality, man learned long ago how to surmount most of the perils and discomforts of desert existence. Some primitive peoples live out their lives without ever knowing about any other environment. The prospector leading his burro and the Bedouin on his camel have prowled the most remote of the dry regions. Modern transport has made desert travel more casual. Airways and highways parallel the ancient caravan trails, and industries, vacationers and home builders have confidently infiltrated the desert's fringes.

Those who know the desert respect it as knowing sailors respect the sea. Without for a moment minimizing its dangers, they find it a place of great

-9-

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The Desert
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • About the Author 4
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • 1 - Scorched Belts on the Earth 9
  • 2 - The Creation of Deserts 27
  • 3 - Plants Under the Sun 52
  • 4 - The World of Desert Animals 69
  • 5 - Water: The Eternal Problem 94
  • 6 - Life Patterns in Arid Lands 112
  • 7 - Man Against Desert 127
  • 8 - The Desert Tamed 165
  • Bibliography 186
  • Credits 187
  • Index 188
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