[EDITORIALS]Stop that terrible dust!

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[EDITORIALS]Stop that terrible dust!

"Yellow sand" has been an unwelcome guest every spring, and the forecast is that the dust carried across the ocean from China will be worse this year. The sand has been making its presence felt across the peninsula even during the winter, and now comes with carcinogenic dioxin on top of metal particles. Yellow sand is a natural phenomenon of dust carried by westerly winds from the desert region of the upper Huang He, or the Yellow River, and loamy deposits found at midstream. But the sand's severity has worsened due to deforestation and uncontrolled grazing in central China.

The rapid industrialization of China has turned the air quality of its eastern region into the world's worst, right along with that of northern India's. The air pollution produced in the regions is now a global issue, for the pollution is being carried past Japan, even all the way to the United States.

The Chinese government has said it was taking measures to eliminate yellow sand based on a 10-year plan that includes ecological restoration with reforestation. But we cannot solely rely on the Chinese plan and wait for decades for the measures to bear fruit. The environment ministers of Korea, China and Japan have agreed to work together to restore the ecological foundation of the upstream Huang He. Now that the phenomenon is recognized to have been aggravated by humans, the government must step up efforts to put in place practical and workable countermeasures of its own.

A first step would be to establish a network of communication among the countries to exchange information and strategies on the dust. What we can do must be done, and measures that are beyond the means of the two countries must be promoted as a global issue to draw international action.

We must also help to promote reforestation projects being carried out by East Asian private-sector groups and Chinese environmentalists. Air pollution in Korea has been regarded as one of the three major reasons why foreign businesses try to avoid Korea. Donning a mask when going outdoors or staying inside all the time are not solutions. A comprehensive system is needed to forecast the dust and to analyze the extent of its continuing harm.
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