The Dry Wall of China
Desertification is spreading across northern China, caused by rampant logging, overgrazing, and the cultivation of marginal lands for farming, and exacerbated by drought. About a dozen severe sandstorms hit Beijing this spring. The village of Longbaoshan outside Beijing is threatened by a mountain of sand that’s advancing at a rate of about 30 feet a year, a phenomenon that’s become known as the “Flying Desert” and is beginning to attract tourists. To help address the problem, the government has banned logging in many areas and offered to give farmers free grain if they begin planting trees instead of crops. To aid the drought-stricken north, the government is also considering whether to revive a controversial decades-old plan to divert water northward from the flood-prone Yangtze River basin, despite concerns about the plan’s feasibility, high cost, and potential to cause pollution.