China's 'Great Green Wall' Fights Expanding Desert
Throughout the past 40 years, the Earth has lost a third of its arable land to erosion and degradation. China’s efforts to fight the problem have seen mixed results.
In April in the Gobi Desert, herders like Buyintegedele plant corn that they’ll harvest in October—if it survives. April is also high season for sandstorms, a result of desertification—the transformation of arable, hospitable land into desert. These fierce storms can occur three to 10 times per month, destroying crops and damaging infrastructure.
Buyintegedele lives in the Tengger Desert, at the Gobi’s southern edge in Inner Mongolia, China. But the increasing frequency and intensity of sandstorms is forcing Buyintegedele and others who call the region home to make a choice: stay and continue trying to eke out a difficult living or join other climate refugees in cities.
“It’s like in the beginning of the recent movie ‘Interstellar,’” says Feng Wang, associate