Around the world, the environment is increasingly under threat from industrial pollution, business development of the wilderness and climate change. Pulitzer Center stories tagged with “Environment” feature reporting that covers climate change, deforestation, biodiversity, pollution, and other factors that impact the health of the world around us. Use the Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder to find and create lesson plans on the environment.


China's Growing Sands: An Interview with Sean Gallagher

In April 2009, British photojournalist Sean Gallagher traveled 4000km through Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu and Xinjiang documenting China's struggle with desertification. An exhibit of "China's Growing Sands" will be opening on July 4, at 6pm at Café Zarah, on 42 Gulou Dongdajie (8403 9807) and will run through August 5. The opening, which is open to all, will include a 15-minute multimedia presentation by Gallagher. The Beijinger asked Gallagher a few questions about his work:

What inspired you to take on this project?

Nepal: Laying Sewers Before the Monsoon

The streets of Boudha have turned into a muddy puddle as monsoon and sewer water mix while frantic community members work to lay down pipes before the waters rise over their feet.

Desert Playground

The Shapotou desert resort is the jewel in the tourism crown for Ningxia, China's poorest province. Lying on the edges of the Tengger desert, it is one of the most dramatic natural settings in all of China, situated at the convergence of the desert, the Yellow River and the "Fragrant Mountain" Range". Thousands of domestic tourists descend upon Shapotou each year to enjoy the natural scenery and partake in various activities on and around the 100-metre high dunes.

The Taklamakan Desert

The Taklamakan desert is a place of such epic proportions and intimidating size that its name in the local Uygur language translates as 'You can go in, but you will never come out'. After the great Sahara desert of northern Africa, the Taklamakan is the second biggest moving –sands desert in the world. Lying hidden underneath the immense sea of sand of the Taklamakan, lies the Tarim Basin oilfield. Covering 560,000 square kilometers, it is China's fourth largest oilfield with a reserve of some 16 billion tonnes.

Environmental Refugees

Located in the heart of China's poorest province, Ningxia, the town is surrounded on all sides by arid and unproductive land, however for 200,000 'environmental refugees' this harsh place is now home.

Disappearing Water

Sandwiched unforgivingly between the Tengger desert and the Badain Jaran desert, surface water has long since dried up in the dry and ravaged Minqin Oasis in Gansu Province. In the past two decades, the area has become a national symbol for China's fight against disappearing water as underground water levels have dropped by 15 meters over the past 50 years and approximately 50 percent of the area has turned into desert. Misuse of the remaining water is having worrying consequences for the region, threatening the survival of the people who call this land home.

The Black Disaster

The Inner Mongolian grasslands in northern China were once a place of traditional, nomadic life where groups of farmers were free to roam the vast expanses of grassland. This type of life rapidly disappeared in the 1980's when new regulations forced the settling of nomadic farmers into fixed, allocated farms. As farmers have been forced to graze their cattle on the same pieces of land, severe degradation of the grasslands has started to appear as overgrazing becomes a severe problem.

Abandoned Cities

It is estimated that nearly 40 cities have been abandoned as a result of desertification in Northwest China in the past 2000 years. The old city of Yinpan, in China's western Xinjiang province, is one of those cities. Lying on the fringes of China's most formidable desert, the Taklamakan, its location is one of the harshest and most remote in all of China. Approximately 2000 years ago, the city of Yinpan was a successful, thriving and eclectic city, however the people's inability to adapt to disappearing water was one of the main reasons that led to the fall of this city.