By Kim Tae-gyu
Actress and model Lee Bo-yeong
says that desertification is underway just next to us, to the extent that the alarm needs to be raised to gain public attention on the topic, which she says is urgent.
The 32-year-old entertainer made the point in an interview held 100 days ahead of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) meeting. She is a publicity ambassador of the event, which will take place here in October.
"Have a look at yellow dust storms which are caused by the expansion of deserts. They get worse every year. Desertification is not a distant issue which has nothing to do with us", Lee told The Korea Times.
"We have to remain alert because green areas are continuing to shrink. All the ongoing problems such as climate change and desertification are interconnected".
Originating in the deserts of Mongolia and China, yellow dust is carries eastward to Korea and Japan mostly in the spring. The airborne particles cause health problems as they tend to contain toxic materials.
According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, yellow dust storms were observed an average of 3.7 times per year between 1971 and 2000.
But the figure jumped to more than 10 times over the first decade of the new millennium and 12 days last year as deserts keep expanding in Mongolia and China.
Asked about simple measures which we can take to prevent desertification, Lee suggested conserving electricity.
"We tend to use air conditioners and heaters too often without caring about excessive power consumption. We are required to embrace different ways to make the earth greener", Lee said.
Her rationale: Production of electricity results in an increase in carbon emissions, which in turn causes climate change and desertification.
After winning the 2000 Miss Korea beauty contest in Daejeon and the surrounding South Chungcheong Province, Lee began her career as a model.
Later, Lee made her debut as an actress and starred in a series of television dramas. In 2008, she appeared in the movie "Once Upon a Time"
together with Park Yong-woo
and was nominated for best new actress in the Baeksang Awards.
Lee has gained prominence thanks to her brisk activities for such organizations as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over the past several years.
She has also published pictorials aimed at raising awareness for environmental protection.