Friday, June 22, 2007

China Claims to have Stopped the Gobi Desert from Expanding

China has built another wall to keep out an invasion, but this time the marauder isn't wild hordes of lawless nomads, but the Gobi desert and its sea of sand. At one time Mongolia was 90% grassland, but over the centuries the sand has been slowly moving, and now covers nearly 30% of the lands there. Beijing may soon be at risk, poised just 120 miles from the edge of the desert.
This narrow strip of vegetation has been playfully referred to as The Green Wall of China, and according to Chinese officials has already stopped terrible sandstorms this year, no small feat when looking at 2001, when the storms numbered 18 for the year.

"We are pretty confident it will be effective," Hu Cun, Inner Mongolia's vice director of forestry, told some 30 journalists invited from Beijing to inspect the work ahead of World Environment Day."

But other reports say that Beijing alone has suffered from four sandstorms this year. Basically, trees have been planted along the deserts edge and grass seed has been dropped from planes onto the edges. People along the sensitive desert borders have been moved, and cattle are banned from these areas. But experts say this isn't enough. "Overpopulation and unsustainable development, has not been addressed by a narrow corridor of grass and trees."

It appears China has once again mislead the public, and this time some say its all part of an elaborate ruse to give the illusion that Beijing Olympic Games will be the greenest Olympics ever held.
"Jiang Gaoming, of the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Science, said that 60 billion yuan (7.6 billion dollars) spent on projects to control sandstorms hitting Beijing had been largely wasted."

for the original article on Seed mag
Wikepedia's Great Wall article is pretty neat

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