"To turn the desert into an oasis!"
Once upon a time, we would still feel vain when talking about this phrase, because it is not easy to turn a desert into an oasis in the face of its constant expansion. So does China have the courage to say this now? The answer is yes, and it can still say it with a strong voice.
Thanks to decades of hard work by the sand treatment people, we have wiped out many deserts one after another. In particular, the disappearance of our fifth largest desert, the Mauwusu Desert, has increased China's green space by the equivalent of eight Koreas. In addition to China becoming greener, India has also become much greener.
What has happened to the Earth over hundreds of thousands of years? Why are we working to make the Earth green? In what ways has India gone green? And what ways has China used? Next, we'll find out why experts are so worried about India, since American scientists credit China and India with the effect of the Earth being green.
The Earth is turning green
In 2019, NASA published a tweet in which scientists, based on satellite observations, found that the world has become increasingly green over the past 20 years. And they suggested that the actions of China and India dominated the planet's greening. In addition to NASA's visualization, the British journal Nature also gave data to support it.
In the article, it is mentioned that researchers from Boston University found a 5% increase in global greening by examining remote sensing data from NASA satellites from 2000-2017, which is equivalent to the area of an Amazon rainforest. And out of this 5% greening area, China's greening occupies 25% of it, India accounts for 5%, and the rest is scattered in other countries and regions.
According to researchers at Boston University, China and India cover only 9 percent of the world's land area, but contribute up to one-third of the global increase in green area.
Initially, scientists attributed the "greening of the Earth" phenomenon to the warming effect, where as global temperatures rise, the Earth's water vapor content also becomes higher, and the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere brings about a certain fertilizing effect.
But NASA Ames Research Center scientist Rama Nemani said it wasn't until the data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Terra and Akua satellites that we saw the human contribution to greening.
The Earth is better for being green
Why must we be obsessed with turning the earth green? Most importantly, it is because the industrialization of people has caused a large amount of greenery to disappear from the earth. Greenery plays a key role for the earth in balancing climate change, purifying the air and mitigating land degradation.
Since the beginning of industrialization, humans have been deforesting, overgrazing, and cultivating uncontrolled land in order to develop the economy. The end result is that there are fewer trees for photosynthesis, and the burning of fossil fuels has increased the temperature by a large amount of carbon dioxide.
And with the reduction of trees that were capable of curing the soil, the process of desertification increases significantly, and with it, the area of desert grows. These deserts not only cover the original arable land, but also cover the living space for humans and most animals.
The Earth has been a yellow sight on satellite probes for the past hundred years. It is only in recent decades that people have finally realized the heavy damage caused to us by the decrease of the Earth's greenery. In order to make up for the mistakes made at the beginning, people only began to plant trees in large numbers.
China, in particular, has seen many people take root in desert areas in an effort to mitigate the effects of land degradation, working to turn deserts into oases.
Different ways of greening in China and India
There is a clear difference between the greening methods in China and India. To turn the land green, apart from the familiar planting of trees, there is also the planting of green agricultural products to make the farmland green.
- The Indian way of greening
Apparently, the reason India is so green is because they are expanding their agricultural cultivation. The data in the journal Nature shows that only 4.4% of India's greenery is forested.
What does such large-scale farming bring? We know that India's climate is such that rice matures three times a year, and growing food can indeed solve India's food problem while promoting a greener planet. This seems to be a good solution for both, so why do experts express concern? In fact, the massive reclamation of farmland in India has not really solved either problem.
First of all the greening effect brought by farmland is very short-lived, even if the climate in India can achieve three times a year, but in fact, but it is the effect of the greening of the earth is not long-term.
A lot of water is needed to develop agriculture, especially to grow rice. Such a scale of cultivation will not only seriously deplete groundwater, but will also greatly deplete the fertility of the soil. The growth of crops will absorb a lot of mineral elements in the soil, and these elements do not return to the soil after being absorbed. When the crops will absorb the mineral elements in the soil, then the soil will become very barren, and the groundwater is also depleted, then the farmland will lose its value.
Although India can replenish its soil with nutrients and trace elements through the use of fertilizers such as urea, nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, this is clearly not a long-term solution. One day, when 82% of India's farmland starts to turn into wasteland, it is bound to bring more heavy damage to India and to the earth.
Also even though India really grows so much food, there are actually a large number of people in India who do not have enough to eat. This is actually related to the land system in India, where a large amount of land is in the hands of certain landowners and farmers are able to grow very little farmland.
And these landowners, after harvesting the grain, sell it at prices that many poor people can't afford, so they choose to export it in large quantities to other countries. As you can imagine, during the New Crown epidemic, India's own people were ravaged by the virus and hunger, but exported 1/4 of the world's exported rice.
- The Chinese way of greening
In contrast, although China has tens of millions more people than India, it does not have as much farmland as India. Of the green area contributed by China, 42% comes from afforestation and only 32% is farmland. It is clear that China has been following in greening, "green water and green mountain is the silver mountain of gold". The Chinese have been fighting sand for more than 70 years, and during this time, countless people and their descendants have been rooted in desert areas to solve the problem of sandy land, in order to make the desert an oasis.
In addition to planting trees and grasses in desert areas to achieve sand control, China has the world's "largest afforestation project", the Three Northern Protected Forests.
The treatment area of the Three Northern Protected Forests reached 4.069 million square kilometers, accounting for 42.4% of the national land area. Since 1978 and up to 2020, more than 66 billion trees have been planted and 30.14 million hectares of afforestation and preservation have been completed in more than 40 years. In the entire project area, the forest coverage rate has increased from the original 5.05% to 13.57%. Since 2014, the Three North Protection Forest Project has achieved a historic transformation from "sand into people retreating" to "green into sand retreating".
The Three Northern Protective Forests have brought remarkable changes to China, reducing sandy land, lowering the number of sandstorm days, improving soil erosion, and reducing the amount of sediment in the Yellow River, and have played a huge role in achieving ecological improvement.
- Trees are better for greening
So why is it that planting trees is more effective than clearing farmland? In fact, as we mentioned earlier when we talked about the problems caused by farmland in India, the greening effect brought by farmland is only short-lived. But the greening effect of planting trees is continuous, and trees have a more significant effect on improving the environment and improving the climate.
The reason we call the Amazon rainforest the "lungs of the earth" is that these trees are able to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we need to survive, which plays a big role in mitigating the problem of global warming. Each hectare of trees can absorb 1000 kg of carbon dioxide and release 37.5 kg of oxygen per day. Although crops can also play this role, the effect is obviously not as good as trees.
Another effect of trees is to nourish water and stabilize the soil. The strong root system of trees can provide water for the land and stabilize the soil. In this way, not only can provide us with a large amount of groundwater, but also can effectively alleviate the process of land desertification and reduce the wind and sand on our aggression. So in comparison, China's greening method is obviously better than India's.