Molly Walton of Circle of Blue, an international network of journalists reporting on the global freshwater crisis, interviews Sean Gallagher on desertification in Inner Mongolia. Read excerpt below:
Sean Gallagher, a British photojournalist working on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, spent much of 2009 documenting desertification in Inner Mongolia, He said in an interview this month with Circle of Blue that overgrazing, overpopulation, drought and increased demand for groundwater threaten the health and livelihood of the nearly 24 million residents of Inner Mongolia and hundreds of million outside of Inner Mongolia.
"For many city residents, the only acknowledgment that there is a problem with the nation's deserts comes in the spring when sandstorms descend on the capital," Gallagher said.
The recent sandstorms that inundated Beijing in March prompted the authorities to issue a level-five pollution warning–signaling that it is hazardous to breathe–that closed parks and open spaces to morning exercise. Meanwhile, spring storms in northern Chinese provinces west and east of Inner Mongolia proved disastrous.
A storm in April in the northwest Shandong province, China's fruit and vegetable production base, killed three people, damaged the property of 1.5 million residents, caused 4,000 homes to collapse and ruined several thousand greenhouses. That same month, a sandstorm hit Qinghai in the northwest part of the country, while the Hexi Corridor experienced its worst sandstorm in 9 years...