Nothing lasts forever.
From MSNBC comes an Associated Press report that the Great Wall of China is falling down in places, the victim of blowing sands. The blowing sands are the result of a Dust-Bowl-like overplowing spree after World War II.
- Photo of crumbling section of Great Wall of China, in Mongolia; 2003 photo by preetamrai
1. Geography teachers should copy this story and follow it; soil erosion killed Babylon and several other civilizations in the Fertile Crescent (and Carthage, if we allow that the erosion was promoted by the Romans as a weapon of genocide); the Great Wall is one of those features that most people think strong an permanent. This is also a great insight into construction methods — the parts of the Wall that are crumbling appear to have been made of mud. Adobe construction, anyone (someday I have to finish that post).
2. World history teachers ought to note it for the same reasons as geography teachers. U.S. history teachers will want to keep this to compare it to the Dust Bowl. There are also signs that humans may have significantly altered the local biota and, perhaps, climate, with their construction and agriculture methods.
3. China’s ascent in world position brings responsibilities it may have hoped to avoid, such as protecting the environment. Ending the encroachment of the desert in this case is a tall order — but if it can be done there, perhaps it can also be done around the Sahara, around the Namib, around the Syrian Desert, and other places where grasses once grew, but dust now blows. These sites are more common than one might think.
4. Santayana’s ghost: Didn’t China pay attention to the events of the U.S. Dust Bowl?
Tip of the old scrub brush to Jonathan Turley’s new blog — Turley’s a good lawyer with very interesting cases; his views are a welcome addition. Most of his blog simply points to interesting legal issues.