You’ll Never Guess Which Countries Are Making the World Greener

China and India "are really good examples of how policy can really make a difference."

Houtouwan
Houtouwan was a thriving fishing community of sturdy brick homes that climb up the steeply hilled island of Shenghshan, but is now abandoned, with entire houses completely overgrown as if vacuum-sealed in a lush layer of green. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
By Chase Hill / February 14, 2019 1:00 pm

Chi Chen, a doctoral student at Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment says that India and China are looking a lot greener these days.

Human-made decisions led to the greener areas in these countries, NPR reports.

Tapping data from an orbiting NASA camera, Chen was able to determine that, although some areas experienced drought, there was a general increase from 2000 to 2017 in surface area covered by leafy vegetation.

Climate change could contribute to some of the findings, however policy change within government was also a contributing factor. China has a government sponsored program to reforest an area of the country at risk for catastrophic dust storms as a result of earlier deforestation.

In India, though it’s not actually the best for the environment, a massive expansion of irrigated agriculture has lead to a greener country at the cost of depleting groundwater and extra greenhouse gases.

“These are really good examples of how policy can really make a difference,” for for better or worse, said Molly Brown, a geographer at the University of Maryland.

In China “they are really doing a good job,” Brown told NPR. “They have a large and comprehensive program of tree growing, tree planting, tree maintenance.”

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