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Met Expert: Attempt to Prevent Sandstorms Unwise
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As a natural phenomenon, sandstorms are impossible to eliminate. In fact, any attempt to prevent sandstorms from occurring is a violation of the laws of science and nature, according to Qin Dahe, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and director of China's Meteorological Bureau.

"Although sandstorms do cause huge losses to humanity, they have their purpose," he said on the sidelines of the Fifth Session of 10th National Committee of the CPPCC in Beijing, which concluded today.

Qin explained that sandstorms have been in existence for millennia, destroying as well as creating. For example, sandstorms were responsible for the formation of the Loess Plateau that spans nearly a million square kilometers. The Yellow River runs through the Loess Plateau, carrying with it plenty of dust downstream to what we know as the alluvial North China Plain.

"The Loess Plateau is regarded as the cradle of the Chinese nation. It is therefore unrealistic to tamper with the laws of nature," Qin remarked.

He also noted that, contrary to popular belief, sandstorms do more good than harm. They go into the Pacific Ocean from the Asian Continent, conveying mineral aerosols necessary for precipitating air in the atmosphere. A large amount of minerals are also deposited in the ocean with the rains. These minerals feed the plankton, which feed the shrimp, which feed the fish, which feed humans. Put simply, it is a well-organized food chain.

"This is not to say that we should forget about the damage that sandstorms can cause, but we should not attempt to eliminate them completely. Instead, we should work towards controlling them and harnessing their power to work for us, not against. The projects of converting farmland for forestry and the ecology and environment programs now under way in the western parts of the country are feasible ways of doing just that."

(China.org.cn March 15, 2007)

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