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Smoke curls into the sky from power plants, home heaters, factories and cars, poisoning the air. Rain runs in sheets off slopes stripped of trees, eroding valuable topsoil, sedimenting rivers, causing raging floods downstream, and later, droughts as land loses its capacity to hold water.

More than one-quarter of China has succumbed to desertification, the amount of waste produced doubles every nine years and the population continues to climb, albeit slowly.

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