My 14-year old English student had to cancel next week’s lesson because he said he would be in Outer Mongolia. Before I could ask why or even intimate a look of confusion, Andy told me about his seven-day trip dedicated to plant trees hoping to: 1) generate more oxygen and improve air quality, and 2) to shield and mitigate dust storms.
During the spring and early summer months, Beijing becomes a foster home for sporadic sweeps of dust otherwise known as Asian Dust or Yellow Dust. Here, dust storms leave cars and bicycles painted in dust. We observe dense and pale-yellowed clouds on the skyline and enjoy rad lightning and thunder storms.
While on the surface level, dust is just a petty inconvenience that trails in after you and gets into your shoes, irritates your eyes, and finds refuge in your home– the issue is much deeper.
In the past decade in a half, researchers and scientists at NASA as well as concerned citizens have examined this situation in greater depth. Between China, Manchuria, and Inner/Outer Mongolia, issues of desertification and deforestation (due to overexploitation of land and natural resources for human activities) are ricocheting and manifesting as your seasonal dust storms. Little do we know, we are actually breathing even more pollutants and toxins during this time of the year….
Room for Debate
While I commend volunteers for their efforts, I am not sure of its impact. Do you think planting trees is a long-term solution or a quick fix? What kind of resolution do you suggest?
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared M. Diamond (Diamond discusses how past societies have collapsed due to overexploitation, environmental problems and other cultural factors)