China loves to build cities. Whether they actually have people in them or not. As they run out of flat land to build them on, the country is turning its eyes to the mountains.

Mountains are being bulldozed in China in order to make way for new cities. Environmentalists are warning this could prove dangerous. The earth from the mountains are filling the valleys and could lead to flooding, erosion and pollution according to researchers at Chang’an University.

Other potential consequences of flattening mountains include destroying farmland and endangering native species.

Right now, about 20% of China’s populations live in mountainous regions across the country. More cities are expected to pop up as China’s economy continues to grow.

One such project in Yan’an involves flattening over 30 square miles of land for new construction. The problem? The earth moving project is taking place on top of loess, a silt like sediment formed from accumulating wind-blown dust. Researchers believe moving this material around could cause a collapse should heavy rains impact the area.

“There has been too little modeling of the costs and benefits of land creation. Inexperience and technical problems delay projects and add costs, and the environmental impacts are not being thoroughly considered,” researchers wrote.

Supporters of the massive land-flattening say the economic benefits will more than take care of any potential costs. These benefits are a long way off as no construction can take place until the ground settles which takes at least a decade.

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