Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Yellow Dragon

The creeping yellow sand of central and north China associated with desertification is known as the Yellow Dragon. No-one can slay it, not St George or St Andrew, even on his day (note the post date everyone). It used to be that the Yellow River which rises to the west in Tibet and Qinghai provinces was the symbol of China's mighty civilization. To follow it from its source through the dry lands was to see the future of China unfold before your eyes. No longer. The evolutionary chain from nomad to farmer to rural factory to city landscape is under threat. Two thirds of China's cities are faced with drying aquifers. The glaciers that are the source of the Yellow River are shrinking at a rate of 7% per year. The dams and water projects which rely on it have transformed it into one large plumbing project. Sandstorms abound in the north which has 43% of the population but only 14% of tha water. Grand schemes are afoot to move water from south to north, from the eternally flooded areas to the perpetually dry. A second Grand Canal so to speak. It may become the world's largest mega project.
Source: Jim Yardley, New York Times, Sunday Nov 19th 2006