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Green efforts spring from Chinese desert

Source:  Copyright 2009, USA Today
Date:  December 23, 2009
Original URL: Status ONLINE

He has never heard of global warming or Copenhagen, where leaders from 193 countries gathered for a major climate change summit last weekend.

But Ulandalai, 43, a farmer in one of China's most isolated desert regions, says he's doing his part to help the environment anyway.

As part of a clean energy initiative partly sponsored by the Chinese government, Ulandalai, who uses just one name, planted sand willows three years ago on land where he used to graze sheep.

There are several benefits to the switch, he says.

First, the large shrub-like plants help hold down the soil, which Ulandalai and other locals say has reduced the intensity of sandstorms and made the area more hospitable to wildlife.

Second, the sand willows can be harvested and burned to generate electricity, a process that produces fewer greenhouse gases than other energy sources such as coal.

A nearby power plant built to burn the willow has ...

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