Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gone With the Wind

As March blows in like a lion throughout the United States, people in China and also the Koreas and Japan have their own weather challenges. Spring marks the beginning of the dust storm season. Each year dust storms present greater challenges to the citizens of the East Coast cities. Originating in the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts of North Western China they blow east, picking up deadly toxins, before filling the air of the highly populated cities of the East. In their wake, the cities are left covered in a thin layer of yellow dust.
This is just one more example of how Maoist policies have continued to leave an impact on the world. In 1949, after the Communist takeover, 3 million people were resettled in the far-flung Xinjiang province. Over-grazing and over-plowing in this region have caused the desertification of the land. The Taklamakan Desert has continued to grow and spread at an alarming rate. Soil erosion in China has become a global issue. Scientists say that much of the smog in California has its origins in China. It is also affecting Japan and North and South Korea. A massive campaign to plant trees is underway in this region but to date has not shown a great deal of success.
Olympic planners are concerned that a dust storm could impact the summer games. Trees have been planted on the outskirts of Beijing to help to block the winds. Urban dwellers are continuing to don paper masks to protect against respiratory problems caused by the dust. Schools have been closed and children and the elderly are advised to remain indoors during the storms.