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The Green Wall of China

TODAY, JUNE 5, IS THE WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY.

It is an open secret that China is the biggest abuser of environment in the world. Most of the manufacturing in China uses coal-burning furnaces, and that one single industry equals more than the most the whole of Europe in terms of CO2 emission.

At the same time, China is the single largest country to have invested the most - USD 8 bn - into planting trees. Criticised yet again though it is doing some serious spend, the reason is rather different from a change-of-heart or accountability or even a soft-corner for environment. Beijing, its capital is being subjected to sand storms so frequently that the Chinese have already coined a term for it - Yellow Dragon. Sand from this area have already started crossing the Pacific and reaching Americas.

[Above: an artist's impression of the Green wall of trees stopping the Gobi desert in its tracks.]

This is the Gobi desert from Mongolia making inroad into China at an alarming pace - claiming 3,600 km² of Chinese grassland per year and converting it into a desert, and creating "sandy" environment all over the place. The denting Chinese economy by nearly USD 50 bn every year. To check this dangerous progress China has finally decided to hug the trees, and we have the (great) Green Wall of China - the largest afforestation project in the world today.

The Green Wall is a project to plant a 4,480 km (2,800 miles) shelterbelt of trees across the North-Western rim of China skirting the Gobi Desert. To avert the ghost of de-forestation, this afforestation project is phased for next 70 years starting 2001.

Better late than never...

[Go here for a related coverage by BBC.]

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