Deforestation is a problem known for years. We all have heard or read at least one story of people across South America and Africa cutting trees without permission and control in order to turn the area into either agricultural land or a village, or simply use the timber.
But if you think that this is the only case of a precious natural resource being destroyed for someone’s personal gain, you’d be wrong. In China, they not only remove mountain forests, they simply flatten out entire mountains, use the soil and gravel to fill up valleys, and create a flat land, which supposedly should be suitable to hold a city.
China is the only place on Earth, where huge mountains are removed so that the expansion of the urban areas could be done easier. It is true that the density of population is much larger than anywhere else and therefore different approaches should be explored, but not having any examples or guidelines to follow usually leads to a major disaster.
The threats that such activity pose are numerous, as scientists from Chang’an University in China point out in a report published in Nature yesterday. Not only that engineers are damaging areas of enormous size, but they are also doing it without any consideration about air and water pollution, soil erosion and flooding. The only reasoning that they have is that mountains limit urban development, and therefore they have to be removed.
Five cities have already been expanded in this way- Chongqing, Shiyan, Yichang, Lanzhou and Yan’an. But while thinking of technological and urban expansion, the genius minds behind this project have forgotten to take into account the various safety issues that could emerge. As Professor Li reports to Nature, besides the enormous environmental damage and pollution, the newly created land might actually turn out to be unsuitable for construction as the soil is soft and if wet could simply collapse.
The scientists call for immediate external assessment of the risk. They do not accept the reasoning that in the US such practice is used by the mining industry, or that in Dubai tons of materials are being removed to design new landscapes. Here, the situation is of a much larger scale.
Image (c) Digital Globe