Living a Nightmare in China’s City of Sinkholes

Xiao Guoqiang, a 50-year-old farmer stands before his sunken village in Jining, Shandong Province on June 26, 2013. Underground mining in this region is devouring 20 million square meters of land a year.

Xiao Guoqiang, a 50-year-old farmer stands before his sunken village in Jining, Shandong Province on June 26, 2013. Underground mining in this region is devouring 20 million square meters of land a year.

Xiao’s hometown, Jining, is one of China’s “coal cities,” whose mineral wealth helps light up the night skies of the world’s most energy-hungry country. The land here is honeycombed with coal mines, which can form massive sinkholes that leave thousands of homes uninhabitable every year.

Ten years ago, the area where Xiao lived was a vibrant farming community on the North China Plain. But sinkholes are devouring 20 million square meters (7.7 square miles) of land here a year, according to the Jining Land Resource Bureau, and have displaced an estimated 100,000 people, mostly farmers and their families, over the past decade.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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