Humans to blame for Sandstorms? China smothered in orange haze.
2010 03 21

From: Dawn.com


Tons of sand turned Beijing’s sky orange as the strongest sandstorm this year hit northern China, a gritty reminder that the country’s expanding deserts have led to a sharp increase in the storms.

The sky glowed Saturday and a thin dusting of sand covered Beijing, causing workers and tourists to muffle their faces in vast Tiananmen Square. The city’s weather bureau gave air quality a rare hazardous ranking.

Air quality is ’’very bad for the health,’’ China’s national weather bureau warned. It said people should cover their mouths when outside and keep doors and windows closed.

China’s expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country because of overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought. The shifting sands have led to a sharp increase in sandstorms - the grit from which can travel as far as the western United States.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has estimated that the number of sandstorms has jumped six-fold in the past 50 years to two dozen a year.

The latest sandstorm also hit the regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia and the provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei, affecting about 250 million people over an area of 312,000 square miles (810,000 square kilometers), the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

As the sandstorm moved southeast, South Korea’s national weather agency issued a yellow dust advisory for Seoul and other parts of the country.

Chun Youngsin, a researcher at the Korea Meteorological Administration, said the yellow dust was expected to hit the Korean peninsula beginning Saturday afternoon and it would be ’’the worst yellow dust’’ this year.

Some flights at Beijing’s international airport were delayed but eventually took off, said a woman answering phones at the airport hot line.

Skies cleared in the city by midday, but a warning of more dusty weather remained in place until early Sunday afternoon.

’’I think this kind of natural disaster is caused by human activity, but I don’t know the exact reason, and I don’t know exactly what we can do to prevent this,’’ said Beijing resident Shi Chunyan.

China has planted thousands of acres of vegetation in recent years to stop the spread of deserts in its north and west, but experts have said the work will take decades.

’’The challenges ahead are still huge,’’ China said in a report to the United Nations in 2006.

And the pressures of China’s development aren’t easing. ’’Arid and semiarid areas can only support one or two people per square kilometer. In China, population density in these areas is over 10 people per square kilometer,’’ Jiang Gaoming, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Botany, wrote for the online environmental magazine China Dialogue in 2007.

The residents once were nomads, ’’but now they have settled, increasing the pressure on the environment and inevitably damaging it.’’

The worst recent sandstorm to hit Beijing was in 2006, when about 300,000 tons of sand were dumped on the capital.

’’The situation improved tremendously after that. Thanks to the mild climate and conservation efforts, Beijing had only one sandstorm last year,’’ Guo Hu, head of the Beijing Meteorological Station, told Xinhua on Saturday.

The closest desert area to Beijing is about 500 miles away, in the region of Inner Mongolia, Guo said.

China’s dust storms were at their worst in the 1950s and ’60s after campaigns to raise farm and factory output following the 1949 communist revolution stripped the soil of vegetation.

Because of those campaigns, archaeologists have found that sandstorms are reducing some packed-earth sections of the Great Wall in western China to ’’mounds of dirt’’ that may disappear in 20 years.

Article from: Dawn.com



Related Articles
Smart Dust is Already in our Environment (Video)
Are the dust storms radioactive? Australian scientists study Aussie dust from New Zealand
Australia reels from wild weather - Eerie blanket of red dust
Huge Dust Storm Breaks Out on Mars


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »