Nature can be fierce. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes… the list goes on, but Beijing, China has experienced something this week that makes the entire city and surrounding area look like a scene straight out of an eerie post-apocalyptic movie.
Beijing’s colour today. Reminds me of SF’s colour during the fire last year. Same Bladerunner 2049 energy, different environmental disasters.
Dust Sand Storm & Desertification (DSSD) in the north + west China has to be outpaced by the efforts of building a Green Great Wall. 🌳 pic.twitter.com/hH7NraXwyK
— Jen Zhu (@jenzhuscott) March 15, 2021
The sandstorm is the product of catastrophic winds pulling sand from the Gobi Desert through China’s capital city. While the geography of the area has produced sandstorms in the past, experts say that this is the worst case in over a decade with air quality the worst the city has seen in 4 years.
Residents of Beijing wore masks, goggles, and even hairnets to protect themselves from the choking dust. The government ordered people to stay inside as school, sporting events, and even flights were shut down.
A Meme of today’s Beijing sandstorm by Chinese netizens😜😜😜 pic.twitter.com/w8oTriigaP
— Tong Bingxue 仝冰雪 (@tongbingxue) March 15, 2021
The good news is that China has been working on a project that would stop such sandstorms from becoming this intense by rebuilding a natural barrier with trees and shrubs. The “great green wall,” as it’s known, has been established for over 20 years now, but this current storm shows that more will need to be done.
The recent droughts in China haven’t helped matters, though. According to Beijing-based environmental health expert Pan Xiaochuan, the unusually dry ground made things worse this year.
“If there is less moisture, more dust will be scraped up,” he said. “Since the sandstorm is blown from a high altitude, the general windbreak tree belts won’t be very effective, so it has been blown over… very quickly.”
— Anshuman Mishra (@anshu13) March 16, 2021
Fortunately, Beijing is back to normal today, though, as citizens report clear skies once again.