Peter Ford writes on geologists’ warnings that deforestation could trigger landslides, thirteen years ago. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Monster monsoon rains may have loosened the mud and rock that buried and killed more than 1,000 people in the Northwestern Chinese province of Gansu over the weekend, but the mudslide in Zhouqu was more than a natural disaster.
Official records show that government-run lumber companies cut 313,000 acres of forest from the slopes of Zhouqu county between 1952 and 1990, denuding the geologically vulnerable mountainsides and subjecting them to soil erosion.
Thirteen years ago two Chinese scientists published a paper warning that following “the destruction of the eco-system” in the district, “a rainstorm will carry debris down the gully, destroying farmland, houses, roads, bridges, water facilities, and power systems and causing death and injury.”
Meanwhile, heavy rains are making bad conditions worse. From Al Jazeera:
Overnight thunderstorms have brought fresh misery to survivors in a remote area of northwestern China.
More heavy rains are forecast in the coming days, with up to 9cm of rain expected in the region on Friday. China’s national weather center said the threat of additional landslides along the Bailong River was “relatively large”.