In Lanzhou, China, the phrase “moving mountains” is taking on a literal form. Over 700 mountains are being bulldozed to create more land for the rapidly growing population to live. It is not uncommon in China for mountaintops to be flattened or valleys to be filled in to create more land for building cities. However, researchers from Chang’an University in China explained in a revealing article on Nature why they are becoming increasingly concerned about the ramifications of flattening the land.
Other mountain flattening projects have proved devastating to the surrounding environment.
As you can see from the image above, issues have developed in Yan’an, Lanzhou, and Shiyan from the mountain bulldozing endeavors. Air and water pollution are some of the top concerns expressed by researchers. Other concerns include landslides, soil erosion, endangering of wildlife, flooding, and changing of water courses.
According to Nature, during the earth-moving project in the city of Lanzhou, soil erosion is expected to increase by 10 percent and concentrations of dust particles in the air by 49 percent.
Tech Times points out that in Yan’an, a single project is designed to provide 30 square miles of land for new construction. That project started in April 2012 and is taking place on wind-blown silt which sat for a million years. Scientists investigating the area believe redistributing this material could cause the ground to collapse after a rainstorm.
The Chang’an University researchers warned:
“There has been too little modeling of the costs and benefits of land creation. Inexperience and technical problems delay projects and add costs, and the environmental impacts are not being thoroughly considered.”
Sadly, many of these land construction projects do not meet even basic environmental regulations. Local government is willing to overlook these problems because of the potential to make money.
A startling example of environmental concerns being overlooked due to the profit potential is the Lanzhou project. This project was placed on hold back in April 2014 due to visible air pollution in the area. Chinese officials allowed the project to resume only four short weeks later due to complaints about financial losses. The pollution assessment is still not complete as of June 2014.
In closing, the report notes that more must be done by officials in China to ensure scientific advice is being sought before these projects begin. We are far from understanding all the lasting implications of these decisions and they should be made with the utmost care.
China hasn’t stopped at just polluting their own nation. The expansion of land and population in China has increased the demand for oil. Recently, in a letter uncovered by Agence France Presse, Chadian government officials demanded that the Chinese National Oil Company pay $1.2 billion for illegal dumping and for filling in polluted drilling sites without first treating them for toxic residue.
What do you think of the Chinese “mountain moving” projects? Are you concerned about the environmental impact?