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Desertificiation In China Essay

2471 words - 10 pages

Historically the Chinese has had an established a balance between man and nature. However, the twentieth century has seen a reversal in this relationship. China has adopted many damaging and exploitative practices, especially after the establishment of the communist People Republic of China (PRC) (Jiang, 2007). Years of ecological abuse have left China in an environmental crisis. Land degradation, specifically desertification, is one of the most pressing and important ecological issues. In 1978 the PRC’s Standing Committee initiated the Three-North Shelterbelt Development Programme (TNS). When completed in 2050 the shelter belt is planned to surround the northern dry lands and to improve forest coverage in arid and semiarid China from 5% to 15% (Wang, et al., 2009). The TNS successes are measured on a politically charged set of standards while negative effects are downplayed by the CCP. The result is a policy based on politics and designed to threaten symptoms rather than solve the problem. Relative to its cost and size, the Three-North Shelterbelt policy of afforestation has been unsuccessful in addressing the desertification crisis in Northern China.

Due to its population, modern history, and political system, it is not surprising that China is facing large scale environmental problems like desertification. China is a large country in many respects. Geographically, China is the fourth largest country in the world with 9,596,961 sq km of total territory. China has an extremely diverse range of climates and terrains; the most important to this paper are the desert, arid, and semi-arid regions in the Northern regions. China has an impressive geography but its true size is its population of 1.3 billion people, ranking it as the world’s most populous nation (CIA 2011). In addition to having around 18% of the world’s population, China also has 10% of the world’s total biodiversity (BBC 2010). The history of the CCP’s environmental policies is extremely dynamic. In 1949 environmental policies of the Maoist era were characterized by the idea of human supremacy and were carried out with little scientific research or regard to the impacts on the environment. These efforts included massive deforestation to the fuel industry and large scale conversion of grasslands into croplands. Under Deng Xiaoping, China began the process of economic reforms toward becoming a market economy. The reform era brought change in environmental policy there was an increase in environmental policies aimed to reduce or repair the impact of Maoist programs. The TNS was one of the earliest and largest of such programs. However, positive environmental policy was overshadowed by the economic reforms that hurt the environment. There was little regulation or enforcement of existing regulations resulting in a rise of pollution and land degradation. In recent years there has been an increase in environmentalism as the economy has become more stable but the problems still remain....

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