The older something gets, the more people want it around forever, but at the same time, it also becomes less stable. This is what is happening to the famed Great Wall of China. Sandstorms are said to be deteriorating the wall over a mile per year, and if they continue, the wall could disappear altogether in the next 20 years. While it seems like nature is the wall’s enemy, it is actually humans who are at fault. Destructive farming methods in the 1950s caused deserts to spring up in northern China which now creates sandstorms there. The storms have erooded mud and caused cracks in the wall, causing it to collapse. Those places along the wall where the ground is easily eroded are most at risk.
Experts say that over 25 miles of the wall in Minqin have disappeared in the last 20 years. Here, there are no lookout towers, and the wall sits at a mere seven feet in height instead of the usual 16 feet. Tourists are also to blame for the wall’s deterioration as well as a neglect to preserve it and destruction by developers. The wall was built between 221-206 B CE to keep foreign invaders out of the country. It runs about 3,000-4,000 miles across China. Though it is called the Great “Wall,” it is actually a continuous line of short walls that run over the crest of hills on the Mongolian plain. It was the Mongol nomads who China was trying to keep out with their construction made of earth and stones preserved in wood frames.  Between 1388-1644 CE, the wall was modified during the Ming Dynasty. However, since enemies could merely go around sections of unconnected parts of the wall, it was deemed useless and eventually abandoned as a defensive barrier.
In recent years, The Great Wall of China is famed for being considered the only manmade structure visible from space. This idea was proposed by Richard Halliburton in his 1938 book “Second Book of Marvels.” While it is true that The Great Wall can be seen at low orbit, other large objects such as highways, ships, railroads, cities, fields, and even some buildings can be seen at that height as well. High above the earth, however, the wall disappears with the rest of the world’s details. Now, unless efforst from Minqin conservationists are successful, the wall will disappear from earth altogether.
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