‘Borrowing’ water, Chinese style

February 27, 2009

“The south has plenty of water and the north lacks it, so if possible why not borrow some?” China’s revolutionary communist leader Mao Zedong said in 1952.

That probably seemed a great idea at the time.

But it is causing pollution as well as discontent among farmers facing forced resettlement to make way for a mammoth construction to help the parched north — the South-to-North Transfer Project. Much of the system, of dams, canals and tunnels, is due for completion in 2013-14.

Read my colleague Chris Buckley’s fascinating feature about the project as well as a related story and a factbox. The photo above left, by David Gray, shows a fisherman near the village of Shizigang, located on the Danjiangkou Dam that is part of the project in Henan province.

Among the statistics — about 12.5 million Chinese have been moved to make way for 86,000 dams since 1949, according to one study.  (12.5 million people is more than the entire population of countries such as Greece, Cuba, Belgium or Tunisia). And the “dam migrants” (as they are known) have long fanned unrest.   

“We have eaten too much suffering already,” farmer Zhao Jingzhou said in Shizigang, using a common Chinese saying. He is among the survivors of an exodus to the high northwest from 1959 — thousands of others, lured by the promise of a more secure life in the arid highlands of the northwest province next to Tibet, died from hunger.

The picture above right shows work on the Danjiangkou Dam in 2008.

So what should China do?


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In the long run, there’s nothing they can do other than try to keep their growing population from starving and try to keep growing their economy. Of course they are no different from the rest of the world in that respect, America included.
I have seen predictions that the Colorado River will run dry by 2050. In the High Plains, the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at a rate of 12 cubic km (420,000 million ft3 or 9.7 million acre feet) per year, amounting to a total depletion to date of a volume equal to the annual flow of 18 Colorado Rivers. Some estimates say it will dry up in as little as 25 years. (Wiki)
In California, water shortages are requiring severe restrictions on agricultural water.
The Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly which will further reduce China’s water supply.
The bottom line is that there is no solution to human overpopulation and as the population grows to a projected 9.5 billion by 2050, it seems evident to me that nature will provide the answer to water shortages, food shortages and resource shortages in general. Early death by the millions.
It’s easy to see why people wonder if there is “intelligent” life in the universe. They usually restrict that question to extraterrestrial life but we don’t even see much of it on this planet.
So what should WE do?

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

There is a HELP but help that requires CHANGE.

Humanity for thousands years have been behaving
like barbarians on planet Earth, doing what they want regardless of precious life on it, killing, enslaving, exploiting in so many way Nature and Animal Kingdom but little they consider that this cruel, heartless doing is comming back to them now.

There are 2 major world killers:

OVERPOPULATION and meat industry and one trigers
another- this vicious circle that is impossible to be broken other way than 2 kids per a fammily and return to vegetarian diet. Even if YOU COULD AFFORD to have more than 2 children the problem is that our so devastated, exploited , exhausted planet CANNOT.

So think globally and act locally.

We all have to understand and teach our children that:

If we as humans do not stop this global madness and change for better, our long time wrong doing would put in motions forces that we do not know well yet and it will triger nature powerfull deffending mechanisms beyond our control.
Is that future what you want for your children?

There is no time to waste – go green, go vegetarian,
recicle, use less, be more. Open your heart to feel, and your eyes to see. Time of CHANGE is now, please do your important part well to make a difference in this time of that unprecidented NEED.
New paradigm is comming, please do not waste your chance to make a real difference on our precious planet.

Real peace starts on your own plate.

Be more becouse you have enormous capacity for good in you and yes ,together we can do more and be unbeatable and win this crucial battle for LIFE.
Choose good now and forever.

Posted by Bogna | Report as abusive

“Danjiangkou Dam that is part of the project in Henan province.” The auther’s view is wrong,Danjiangkou Dam that isn’t part of the project in Henan province.It located in Hubei province.

Posted by zhaoqi iwu | Report as abusive