former volunteer fend off
sand prevent ever expanding
dust shroud alarm (2)
rage misuse contribute
shrub stabilize barricade
dune artificial windbreak
barren skeptical strategic
encroach ward off livestock
arid funds generation
effective determine






Chinese worker, Zhang Hai Bo, used to spend his days taking from the land. Now the former farmer is giving back to it.

Zhang is one of a thousand volunteers planting trees outside of Beijing as part of a government campaign to fend off the affects of an ever expanding desert on China’s capital.

Zhang Hai Bo, Green Wall Volunteer: “By planting trees, we’re helping to prevent sandstorms from blowing into Beijing.”

Beijing is just one of several cities around Asia hit every year by raging sandstorms. The storms shroud buildings and streets with clouds of toxic dust and are often referred to as a natural disaster.

And environmentalists say this annual event is getting worse as a result of climate change and this: the Gobi. The largest desert in Asia is growing according to some researchers, at an alarming rate of 950 square miles a year.

Bai Jianhua, Chinese Forestry Official: “China’s overpopulation, deforestation and overfarming and misuse of water contribute to the sandstorms.”

The government believes this multibillion dollar barricade of trees and shrubs is the answer.

It’s nicknamed the Green Wall of China. And when it’s finished in 2050, the wall is to stretch 2,800 miles all the way from Inner Mongolia to Beijing. Officials say it will serve as a windbreak.

They say the vegetation is a range to create an artificial ecosystem, to stabilize the dunes, and help more plants to grow here.

Bai Jianhua: “The overall number of sandstorms is decreasing and each one is getting weaker.”

Eight years ago, this mountainside was completely barren. Now as part of the Green Wall project, it’s covered with trees.

Yet some environmentalists are skeptical that this strategically placed forest belt can ward off an encroaching desert.

Jia Baoquan, Chinese Academy of Forestry: “It would be difficult to completely solve the environmental problem with this project. It is more a matter of climate change than one caused by man.”

Some environmental groups would argue the government should address those man-made problems by paying farmers to reduce livestock and raise water prices.

They say those moves would help to prevent overgrazing on arid lands and encourage water conservation. Some Chinese scientists have call the project a waste of government funds.

But Zhang sees the value in his work. “This is for my country, my kids and future generations.”

And only future generations will be able to determine how effective the Green Wall really is.


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1. Zhang Hai Bo’s life have changed. Is this true or false? How has his life changed?

2. What is the cause of sandstorms?

3. What is the solution? What are the government and volunteers doing?

4. Everyone completely agrees with the Great Green Wall project. Is this correct or wrong?

5. What do the skeptics think the government should do?
A. Are there environmental problems in your city?

B. What are the solutions?

C. Is there a tree-planing program?


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