The Green Wall &
Rockets of China
By Laura Mignosa,
Director, Connecticut Institute of Herbal Studies
900 Wells Road, Wethersfield, Ct 06109
Each year as we
travel to China to explore its many wonders, one cannot help but notice
changes that are going on around the country. Some are good and some are
Right now the city
of Beijing is in crisis. The air is heavy with smog and there is an
estimated 1000 new cars entering the city each week. The construction of
new buildings or renovation of old ones is 24/7 and I mean that! All the
time, every day… people work to show Beijing’s face to the world as a
modern and powerful city for the Olympics.
To be fair, I
remember when I first journeyed to Beijing in 1995 and it was even
After a day of
sightseeing and people watching, my white sneakers and jacket would have
black particles attached to them. My eyes would burn and my skin had to
be exfoliated each night to feel clean. The large avenues of the city
would be filled with street venders utilizing small coal stoves to cook
food. Just about everywhere you looked there would be small carts filled
with rounds of coal powered by a person on a bicycle to bring heating
fuel to homes and businesses throughout the city.
Then one year, we
found no venders on the avenues with coal stoves, very few bicycle carts
filled with coal making their way thru the streets and virtually no
black particles were suspended in air. The government had made a law
that heating would not be turned on in private homes until Nov. 15th
and the use of coal for heating or cooking would be outlawed for the
China still relies on coal for
about 75 percent of its energy and coal-fired plants account for most of
its pollution. China as it turns out is the world's second biggest
producer of carbon dioxide. Only the United States is worse, according
to the International Energy Agency. In view of this, China has many new
laws that will be implemented to use Wind, Solar and Geo-thermal energy
and not a moment too soon.
Beijing this year we not able enter the Olympic Park, but our guide &
friend Sarah, allowed us a sneak peak at the Birds Nest being worked on.
I’d seen some documentaries before leaving the U.S. but was amazed at
the size and depth of the park. Huge is all I can say. Apartment
buildings for the media and athletes and their families, and many
buildings for the various events, as well as the Cube which is the
National Aquatic Center, make their mark on this city. Traffic is heavy
and seeing the sun is difficult under the haze of constant construction.
So, how can a city which generates this
much pollution play host to a world that is ever more demanding
regarding it’s commitment to the environment?
This was my question to our guide Sarah
who is a bright and enthusiastic native of Beijing. She was not at all
surprised by the question. I learned that Beijing had implemented many
things in the Olympic park to save energy & water. The Bird’s Nest or
National Stadium, used 110,000 tons of recycled, made- in- China steel
that actually surpasses most steel used today and can withstand
earthquakes and low temperatures. Steel gutters spread over the roofs of
many buildings in the park, collect rainwater inside the gutters. This
water will be recycled and used to irrigate the park’s gardens and for
the flushing of toilets & sewage management. It is said that there are
121 water saving projects in place which will collect over one million
tons of water a year.
asked about the pollution that is being generated daily in Beijing she
said they will shoot rockets up into the air once most of the
construction is complete or if the air quality reaches level five which
is hazardous to the body,
explained, “You know, much like your country does in coal cities like
Pittsburgh, we use rocket shells containing sticks of silver iodide
which will result in heavy rain fall to wash and clear the air. When you
come back in November, she says, all the construction will be over, the
air will be clear and you will see my city with new eyes.” I am so
excited to experience that. Our group this year will be very lucky
added that private cars will most likely be banned from the roads except
for emergencies during the Games to keep pollution levels low. Even
today, there is an every other day restriction on private car use,
determined by registration numbers. I wondered how well that rule would
work out here in the U. S.
IS a plan in China to help with air quality and it does not end with the
Rockets. While on our way to the Great Wall I spied a row of tall
evergreen trees planted very close to each other and running
perpendicular to the road we traveled. It seemed endless so I asked
Sarah what it was. She told us it is what China calls the Green Wall.
It is a long term project where trees are planted along the borders of
the Great Wall and cities to help stop the Gobi desert from covering
their country in sand.
It seems that each April, sand storms loosen about 330,000 tons of sand
onto Beijing alone. (Bad time to travel) The desert has been expanding
for decades and it is recorded that it moves about 3 km a year heading
directly towards Beijing… an answer has to be found.
called Green Wall is very important to China and should be completed by
2020. Scientists from the US have showed that the Gobi desert sands are
pushed into the jet stream each year and travels over the Pacific to
land in California.
It is not
just China’s problem anymore! Time will tell how well the Green Wall
will stop erosion of their land and if the “rockets” that seed the
clouds will bring relief from droughts and poor air quality in the
future, but one thing is for sure. They are not standing still on these
issues and they see the value of long term projects to bring about great
To learn more about this year’s China Cultural Tour or to find out about
our Chinese Herbology programs, kindly call Laura at 860-666-5064 or
visit the website
www.ctherbschool.com. Appointments for Care utilizing Chinese Herbal
Formulas are also made thru the school.