The Economist: Questions Over Northern China Water Shortage Project
Prominent UK publication The Economist
has a large global audience, including
influential policy-makers and entrepreneurs.
The latest issue published an article criticizing
water shortage remediation plans in northern China.
It criticized the Chinese authorities carrying out
the south-to-north water transfer project, as well
as the Three Gorges dam and river pollution.
Let’s look at the report.
The latest issue of The Economist reported on China’s
dense pollution haze and environmental destruction.
It also indicated environmental experts consensus that
the most serious problem facing China is it’s water .
On October 13, the BBC quoted The Economist article.
It said that four-fifths of water sources
are distributed in the South of China.
However, half of the population, and two thirds of
the arable land are concentrated in North of China.
China has 600 billion cubic meters of water usage per year,
and 400 cubic meters water consumption per capita per year.
Beijing’s water shortage is now comparable
to Saudi Arabia’s, with 100 cubic meters
of water consumption per person per year.
Since the 1970s, Beijing’s water
table has dropped 300 meters.
Zhang Junfeng, China water expert: “China is suffering
from severe shortages of water available for consumption
per capita, according to the proportion of the population.
For example, Beijing has 110 cubic meters
of water per capita per year for consumption.
This is equivalent to one-tenth of the world standard."
State-controlled Chinese media reported that Liu Changming,
who is an academic from the Chinese Academy of Sciences
attended a forum meeting in September.
He said that Hebei groundwater has declined
at an incredible speed during recent years.
The groundwater was 2-3 meters deep in the
50’s and 60’s, and is now 20 to 30 meters deep.
The Economist reported that due to excessive
water use, many rivers have disappeared.
It is even worse that China continues
to pollute it’s few remaining water sources.
In 2007, the Yellow River water resources committee did
research along the 13,000 kilometers of Yellow River.
It found that around 4,000 petrochemical
factories were built along the river system.
Almost a third of the Yellow River water
was now not useable for irrigation.
On August 20, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Environment Ministry announced it’s “national
environment quality report for the first half of 2013″.
It indicates that safety levels have
been exceeded with 22 heavy metals.
Severe mercury pollution has exceeded safe levels
by nine times, and is closely followed by arsenic.
Tianjin’s Haihe River Basin is most
severely impacted by pollution.
Zhang Junfeng: “Industrial pollution
is still limited to specific river pollution.
Domestic pollution and industrial pollution are linear
trends, while pesticide contamination is planar."
In 2010, China Geological Survey conducted a study.
It showed that more than 75% of groundwater under the
North China Plain cannot be used because of impurity.
This year, the China Geological Survey issued
another report on ground contamination levels.
Latest figures show 90% of China’s groundwater is
contaminated, with a large proportion severely polluted.
The article went on to say that the CCP leaders have
reacted to water problems by building engineering projects.
The Three Gorges dam and South-North Water Diversion
Project could cause enormous damage to the environment.
Lin Zixu, current affairs commentator: “The current
environmental problems are entirely caused by the CCP.
A fundamental CCP ideology is to
control and change heaven and earth.
Nowadays, CCP officials want to show off their
achievements, and to obtain personal interests.
Therefore, it intensifies the destruction of the environment."
The CCP has invested several hundred billion dollars in the
Three Gorges Dam and South-North Water Diversion Project.
This has aroused many controversies.
Can investment of a great amount of money solve
the problems of flooding and drought in the North?
Or could it bring some unexpected geological damage?
After the Wenchuan earthquake took place in 2008,
water experts both inside and outside China raised
demands for removing the Three Gorges Dam.
In 2010, Southwest China was hit by severe drought.
In 2011, midstream and downstream
of the Yangze River were in drought.
This provoked the public to question
the South-North Water Diversion Project.
Is there sufficient water resources in
the South to be diverted to the North?
When the climate changes, will the South-North
Water Diversion Project impact the Yangtze River’s
ecological environment? People are very worried.
The Economist concludes that this water crisis is driving
China to desperate, but ultimately unhelpful measures.