Reign of Sand: Inner Mongolia

A compelling multimedia project from Circle of Blue reports on the freshwater crisis in Inner Mongolia, where desertification threatens not only its startlingly beautiful steppes, but its nomadic residents’ way of life. According to the Pacific Institute:

“It’s much more than a landscape surrendering to the sand,” says J. Carl Ganter, director of Circle of Blue, the journalism-based news, science and collaborative project covering water issues worldwide. “We’re looking at a crucial international economic and environmental story that has implications for us all.”

As China prepares for the Summer Olympic Games in August, international focus on its air pollution is increasing. The main target is to reduce urban smog from car and coal emissions, but China’s sand storms are an equal threat to air quality and human health. They are often driven by 80 mile-per-hour winds that last for days. These storms, along with the water shortages and the land degradation causing them, underscore the extreme stress that China’s economic development is putting on its environment and its 1.3 billion people.

“Reign of Sand” comes as China’s spring dust storms approach. Scientists say the severity and frequency of the dust storms reflect worsening conditions: Dryer climate, stronger winds, water shortages, over-grazing, population growth, and a clash between nomadic herders and the government over range and farmland management.

The preview video below offers a hint of the full online package, which documents the situation through an interactive map, video and photo galleries, as well as feature articles.

See more China Digital Times coverage of China’s environmental crisis.

Photo: Palani Mohan, Getty Images, for Circle of Blue
Video: Eric Daigh, for Circle Blue

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