Monday, March 21, 2011

The GREEN Wall of China.

March, 21st 2011 - Happy Spring!!

BEIJING - The Great Wall is no longer enough. Today, only a forest can save the capital of China. But not just a regular forest: against the desert you need the widest forest in Asia. It is an unprecedented mission, at the limits of possibilities between nature and man. In any other country in the world governments would have moved the capital.
As it happened in Kazakhstan. Billions in savings and less uncertainty (Because of the desert getting too close, the Government transferred its capital from Almaty to Astana in December 1997)
But China is a different world today and constantly needs historical challenges and then Beijing is Beijing. It is an ancient and eternal city, the symbol of the country, driven by 23 million people.Because of this no Chinese was surprised yesterday by reading on the "People's Daily" that the Government has launched an action destined to make history in the world: the mission is to plant 300 million trees in the region of Hebei, north and west of the capital along the border with Inner Mongolia, to stop the advance of sand from the Gobi Desert. 

The titanic action was named "Green Great Wall" and aims to grow a new forest of 250.000 square kilometers. The dunes as high as two hundred meters, are advancing 20 meters per year, a rate three times the average of the previous century. Since 1990, sand, cement and drought have destroyed 135,000 Kmsq of forests. The tree-bomb, therefore, does not aim only to protect the Forbidden City by the storms of the desert: it will be detonated even against climate change and air poisoning. 

It's good news for everyone knowing that Beijing chose nature to rebuild a shattered equilibrium, in the name of economic growth at any cost. It remains to prove that the State Forest will resist though. Scientists are cautious. The 3.000 members of Chinese Parliament appear rather optimistic. To the point of approving with a natural applause the announcement of the premier Wen Jiabao: € 7 billion to re-forest the northern front of the nation. 

Birch and Aspen, along with Beech and Fir, are just the beginning of the last battle of Beijing. 

To ensure the initial watering of plants in the coming years, 24 rivers will also be diverted rivers, from the Yellow River. 

The facts, moreover, left no alternative. 

Even in China, the climate over the past decade, has deviated from the cyclicality of the past. 

The interior and northern counties, including the Tibetan highlands and Manchuria, are afflicted by catastrophic droughts. Annual precipitation since 2001, fell by 37%. In the Beijing area the windy days increased from an average of 136 to 178 a year. The capital, in 2010, was affected by 56 sandstorms. Costs and economic losses are incalculable. A study by the Academy of Sciences has revealed that 5 million people of the municipality are at direct risk within the next five years. Sand, fine particles and coal emissions used for industrial heating mix a deadly cocktail. The agricultural belt surrounding Beijing in the last five years reduced by 12% and 400 million eco-refugees live in the nation. They are the farmers that left the land made dry by sand and poisons, dangerously crowded now in metropolis. 

Zheng Guoguang, head of the meteorological state office said "Half a century of madness has produced irreversible changes. Deforestation and desertification of cultivated areas are the most dangerous immediate effect. Where trees stop growing, the water stops running. Beijing is threatened by the desert, but first it is likely to die of thirst. " The population of the capital is mobilized. The Peking mayor urged every resident to buy and plant a tree along the route of the Great Wall, which runs a few kilometers from the outskirts. 

Everyone can grow their favorite plant, fruit trees included: the first part of this new forest will be called "Forest of the Millennium." The communist authorities hope that the moisture generated from the forest, pushing the sand to the Mongolian and Russian deserts, will induce the formation of clouds and rain. The 90% of the ancient imperial springs is close to extinction, the Ming lakes are reduced to quartz beaches and Peking Citizens fear of quickly moving and concentrate on the coast east of Tianjin. Unless an artificial forest in the cradle of deforestation in Asia, comes back and saves the new capital of the planet.

Read the Article in Italian.

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