“The global effort to control the spread of desert started from Shapotou,” said Zhang Zhishan, a researcher with Shapotou Desert Research and Experiment Station in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In the 1950s, shifting desert sands disrupted China’s Baotou-Lanzhou Railway. Scientists came up with a solution using straw checkerboards. The boards stopped the sand coming onto the track. What is the spirit of Shapotou? Zhang said that they should take root in the desert and endure loneliness.