Reading related writing activity: “China’s Bad Earth” Level *** reading tasks
China’s dream, ever since Mao’s ‘Long March’, has been rapid industriaization of the whole country at whatever cost, come hell or high water. This push has continued into the current decade with the rapid industrialization of the whole country, including the agricultural heartland to the growing dismay of farmers, who have recently become aware of the gravity of the problem they are faced with: rapid pollution of arable land and impending starvation if no measures are taken.
China’s Hunan province has long been the grain basket of the country providing most of the staple food of the country: rice. Farmer used make a decent living, crops used to be plentiful and there was a nice balance between supply and demand. China was able to feed its population with minimal imports but then the balance shifted. Now there are more people than ever living in rapidly growing urban communities and fewer living in the rural countryside. There has been a shift away from farming. This on its own would not normally create a problem considering modern farming techniques. The death blow was delivered with the shifting of factories to the countryside where land is cheaper and local bureaucrats desirous to hike production figures. Given that the same local officials also lack the means to adequately control the factories, heavy metal pollution of irrigation canals, the soil and as a result, the food chain became unavoidable. Cases of lead, arsenic and cadmium toxicity, cancer villages and the like have now become public knowledge with farmers refusing to eat their own crops. Ironically, they continue to plant and tend their crops because it is only if they do so that they get payment from the factories which are the main polluters.
It is hard to fathom how a country that has produced so many great thinkers, scientists and philosophers and which has a long tradition of farming never stopped to consider the potential dangers of industrialization. No country in the world, certainly not in the developed world is faced with a problem of this degree of severity. Lack of foresight has landed China in a difficult predicament: the very real danger of collapse for the Communist Party when it becomes obvious they will not be able to feed the growing population. Shortages will lead to rises in price and eventually social upheaval and real turmoil. The only way out is to own up to the problem and start a nationwide cleanup operation. Harsh legislation should be passed making companies liable for the pollution they cause and making sure they have measures in place to prevent future pollution. Any delay will have serious consequences and it is hard to understand how the problem was allowed to get so serious in the first place.
In conclusion, China is faced with an environmental disaster of serious dimensions which requires urgent attention. With the correct attitude, the problems can be addressed and the situation rectified in time. Yet the urgency of the situation must be emphasized.
Provided by: The Oracle