China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Yellow Dust:Int'l Cooperation Needed to Fight Environmental Concerns

KoreaTimes

It is welcome to hear the Environment Ministry plans to intensify cooperative relations with neighboring nations to better cope with the dust storms, which cause devastating damage to the economy and people's health every spring. It is crucial for us to make concerted efforts with other Northeast Asian countries, including China, Japan and Mongolia, to minimize damage from this worsening natural phenomenon.

In recent years, the dust storms plaguing our country around this time of year seem to be more frequent and the density of the dust has reportedly increased. Its long-term effects on agriculture, industrial facilities and cultural properties, as well as the overall ecosystem are incalculable.

However, we have no other choice but to accept it as an unwelcome visitor, with no way of preventing it effectively at present. The yellow dust, originating from Inner Mongolia and the Gobi Desert in central China, is carried to Korea by prevailing easterly winds in April and May.

The damage in China and Mongolia from the dust is said to be beyond description. In some regions, people can't see what's in front of them on windy days. Japan is another serious victim of the dust. Maintaining a cooperative relationship among the four nations is crucial for seeking ways to minimize the damage. We can no longer tolerate the yellow dust as merely a natural phenomenon.

It is significant the Environment Ministry has agreed with officials of the other three countries to set up monitoring centers in each country by the end of next year, to better combat the dust and mitigate its negative effects.

Inaugurating an annual meeting among concerned officials of the four nations would be helpful in promoting cooperation as the nations are in an inseparable relationship with respect to pollution. Our government is required to make unreserved efforts for the promotion of a cooperative relationship with the three neighboring countries in the years ahead.

Fortunately, the dust is said to be controllable, to a certain degree, by planting trees in regions where desertification is rapidly occurring. Thus, decreasing the size of these areas is the only sure way to reduce dust damage. We have to encourage the massive tree-planting campaign being waged in inner China and Mongolia to prevent the desertification from spreading.

South Korea has spent $5 million on the reforestation movement since 2000. Some 20 million trees have been planted through the campaign in the region. Our government, in close cooperation with Japan, is asked to support the ongoing reforestation campaign more aggressively through financial aid and all other possible means.

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