It’s no longer novel to posit that human beings and other species are migrating faster further due to climate change. Another new report makes this case and marshals the global data. But what does this look like on the ground? What are governments responding? China’s is, as with many things, acting; and as with many things in China, it’s on a large scale. The government estimates that 150 million Chinese will have to move as their home environments are degraded to a level where they can’t support human settlements anymore.
The chief drivers of this phenomenon in China? Climate change and over-use of available water. Overgrazing is also a factor, along with deforestation and the clearing of vegetation. Parched lands that have fed too many herds, spread over towns, homes and farms, creating new desert. Such is the case in north-west China. Here the government has moved thousands of people to new settlements, some happily, some not (the river water in one new town was so salty people got sick from drinking it). But how far is far enough when the climate may catch up? One relocated site is called secretly “an ecological disaster area” by government officials, according to the Guardian. One farmer laments the dust bowl – desert in the making – that already greets him not far from his front door.