Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Yellow River

China had the opportunity to avoid the mistakes the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union made in industrializing, namely not destroying the environment for short-term economic gain. But the all-out modernization rush has completely decimated China's environment. The same thing is happening in India. Jim Yardley's Times article on the Yellow River covers these issues quite well. Between climate change, farming, and especially industrial overuse, the Yellow River is in danger of death. China continues in its high-modernist schemes of building larger and larger dams and engineering the environment to serve its purposes. But the speed at which these efforts fail is only surpassed by the speed in which the government invents ever more intensive environmental controls. A quite popular idea in China these days would build canals from southern China to the North to provide the necessary water for population growth and industrial expansion. The environmental catastrophe this would cause in southern China can only be estimated, but it would certainly do little to provide long-term solutions to northern China's water problems.