It's no secret that human beings often alter the landscape to make room for themselves. I think new homes crop up in my hometown on a weekly basis, and cities are constantly building into the sky to make room for offices, homes and shopping centers. The majority of cities, and even rural areas, have had to do something to make room for civilization. But recently, one country has taken to a pretty big extreme to make room for their rapidly expanding society, and it's starting to raise some eyebrows.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle , China is flattening and bulldozing hills and mountains to accommodate large populations that need room to grow. Mountain tops that reach over 490 feet in the air have been cut down, with the dirt being used to fill in valleys to create many square kilometers of what appears to be livable space. While this sounds like it would be a great way to maximize unused land, it could have a severe detrimental effect on the ecosystem and put human lives at risk.
Researchers at Chang'an University say there has been little to no real data on the environmental effects of carving up the landscape. It's possible that flooding, erosion of soil, land slides and more pollution could happen. Additionally, lots of animals and plant species have lost their habitats in the construction. In the United States, moving mountains around or blasting into mines for coal and other resources isn't unheard of, but it hasn't been executed on a massive scale like this project in China. And unfortunately for us, we may never learn the true effects as the Chinese government isn't exactly the most open.
Back in the good old days in 2007, China decided to go ahead and try out mountain chopping to expand a town in the Hubei province. The area experienced the previously mentioned landslides and flooding, but also got sediment in their drinking water. A current project in the Shaanxi province has already destroyed critical farmland while filling their valleys with soft, unstable soil. It's possible that more attempts like this to expand square mileage could lead to land turning into deserts or water shortages throughout the country. It raises the question if destroying the landscape is worth the risks.
So while expanding human territory seems like a good plan, when carried out without considering the risks, the region can have some negative effects. Hopefully this project won't result in any loss of human life at the cost of progress, or destroy the environment more than the impacts that have already been seen. It's not likely that humans will ever stop wanting to extend their reach or seeking better places to live, but I can only put faith that we will try and be careful about it.
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