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CHINA: Desertification and its effect on Korea

Paul Simon has told us of the desertification of China, a problem which the Chinese government leaves unpublicized. He has now forwarded a New York Times (4/14/ 02) article, "China's Growing Deserts Are Suffocating Korea". Here is the opening section: "School was called off throughout much of this sprawling city last Monday because of inclement weather. It was not a freak spring snow storm, a heat wave or torrential rains. Rather, it was an immense cloud of dust that blew in from China's fast-spreading deserts, about 750 miles away. It hid Seoul from view throughout the morning, obscuring the sunrise just as surely as the heaviest of fogs. Clinics overflowed with patients complaining of breathing problems, drugstores experienced a run on cough medicines and face masks that supposedly filter the air, and parks and outdoor malls were nearly empty of pedestrians. With the arrival of the huge dust storms for the third consecutive year, Koreans have begun to grimly resign themselves to the addition of an unwelcome fifth season - already dubbed the season of yellow dust - to the usual four seasons that any temperate country knows. Like the harmattan in West Africa, when skies throughout that region turn a soupy gray for weeks at a time because of seasonal wind patterns that bring airborne dust southward from the Sahara, Korea's new season is a disturbing reminder for Asians of global interconnectedness and the perils of environmental degradation.

Ronald Hilton - 4/20/02