We recently read a report on China’s water/environmental problems, based on reports from Singapore’s Straits Times. Despite living in China and developing some measure of immunity to dismal statistics, there was one that managed to shock us: environmental experts claim that without some drastic change, pollution might, within five years, make the Yangtze River just about inhospitable to all forms of life. The baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin, was only the latest victim: according to the first report, in the 1980s there were 126 forms of life in the river, and by 2002, that figure was already down to 52.
Just how bad is the situation? The Yangtze River goes by 186 cities on its way from Qinghai to Shanghai, and in the process picks up 40% of China’s polluted waste water. According to another report, in 2006, China produced a total of 53.7 billion tons of waste water. But that’s not the bad news (brace yourself now): by 2030, China might possibly use up between 89-100% of its sources of drinking water.
All of this begs a deeper question: what kind of water are they using when they pump 10 kilos of water into pigs headed for the slaughterhouse? Because if it’s waste water not fit for human consumption, there’s a chance that some of whatever shit is in that water was in the bacon panini you had for lunch today. And if it’s potable water, well shit, that’s a waste of perfectly good water.
But we digress. Another report we read, relating to Taihu algae blooming that left 3 million people in the Wuxi area without drinking water, has an interview with a guy who claims (quite believably) that Taihu’s environmental woes will never end until all the factories along the lake close down. The algae bloom was so bad there that instead of fisherman fishing, as was once possible in the lake, there are tons of people whose sole job it is to scoop the algae out of the lake.