I saw a brief segment on the news today about the Gobi Desert. Apparently it is expanding at the rate of about two miles per year and is heading towards Beijing. Beijing is apparently about 70 miles from the desert, hence at the current rate of expansion the city will be reached in 35 years. Already the Desert is burying various towns and villages, thus driving people in search of other places to live.
In addition to humanitarian and environmental concerns, this matter also raises political concerns. As China loses more usable land to the desert, they will need to take action to deal with the loss. One option is to take steps to limit the desert’s expansion and this is being done. But, history has shown that deserts tend to win these battles. Hence, some other action will no doubt have to be taken.
One obvious concern is that the expansion of the desert and other factors will lead China to act more aggressively in the world in order to secure more land and resources for its citizens. Already, China seems to be sending some of its population into Tibet and this serves to exacerbate the already high levels of tension in Tibet.
Given the various problems China faces, it is not unreasonable to expect trouble from China in the near future. Perhaps these problems can be resolved in a peaceful manner. Perhaps not. In any case, it would be wise to watch China even more closely as the desert expands.