Episode number 2 of Series “Battle for the planet”.
The program is presented by William Hinton, a Nebraska grazier and frequent visitor to China. One third of the world’s crop and grazing land is affected by desertification. 850 million people earn their living in these regions. In China, the problem is rapidly growing. Large parts of the north and west, especially in Inner Mongolia, are badly affected. Hinton argues that there are several causes of desertification: an increase in the human population, more intensive grazing and a meat pricing system which encourages farmers to keep older animals. The result is that sandy areas break out in a few small isolated areas and eventually link up to form a huge dune which is whipped along by the wind at the rate of metres by the day. The Chinese are trying several ways to reverse the process: green belts of trees, irrigation and enclosures. However Hinton argues convincingly that the dunes will beat these measures and only a change in animal husbandry and the meat pricing system will achieve the desired end.