Water Problem Caused by Human Fault

Po Mi



       Over the past thirty years, China has a rapid economic growth but one of its costs is a deteriorating environment. Ma Jun, director of Public and Environment Research Center in Beijing, pointed out that China has confronted water problems, such as water shortage, water pollution, damaged water resources, among others. In north China, there are serve water shortages. Many cities have over exploited underground water. The situation is not sustainable. In south China, water resources are good but water pollution is very serious. People do not have clean drinking water. According to the statistics, 300 millions of peasants of the whole country do not have clean and safe drinking water, and one-fifths of cities cannot have qualified drinking water.

There are tremendous news reports about water problems, for example, according to South China Daily, dated 27 September 2009, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region had a serious problem of agricultural water pollution and sewage. The whole region produced more than 44 millions of tones of sewage, and around 6 millions of rubbish. Facilities of sewage and rubbish treatment were backward. “Evaporation of polluted water and rubbish gone with the wind” are common phenomenon. Nowadays more than 19 millions of populations do not have clean and safe water. There occurred intestinal infectious diseases in secondary and primary schools, in which over 80% of cases caused due to drinking polluted water.

Moreover, the whole region used pesticides and chemical fertilizers that exceed the safety standard. Only around 30% of chemical fertilizers were used and pesticides 30-40%. The rest flowed into the water or remained in the soil that polluted the soil, surface water and underground water. Now in the whole region, the livestock and poultry has produced around 600 millions of tones of sewage, which is 22.2% of the total (industry, domestic, and livestock and poultry), and it becomes the main source of water pollution.

       Two days later, China’s Environment Daily also reported that the Environmental Department of Longan Township of Nanning Municipality in Guangxi province received local people’s complaints that some wild fish died at the conjuncture of Yan River of Longan Township and You River of Pingguo Township of Baise Municipality. After investigation, it was verified that Kaite Alcoholic Limited Company illegally added honey in the alcoholic products and secretly installed drainage, through which 800 tones of alcoholic sewage were poured into Rongdong without any treatment. Then the sewage flowed into You River and aggravated its water quality.

Drawing on the relevant laws of prevention and penalties of water pollution, the Environmental Department issued the biggest bill of penalty in the history of Guangxi Province, i.e., RMB 625,110, and ordered the company to stop factory production and sewage, as well as to demolish the illegal piles.

       The deteriorating ecology has exerted serious impacts on the livelihood of ordinary people. Government is obliged to solve the problem. On 6 July, 2007, Pan Yue, deputy director of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) was interviewed by China Central Television (CCTV). He cried that “water pollution is in a critical crisis”, “it’s our fault if we can’t solve that problem”. He pointed out that 26% of 7 river systems of China were ranked as the worst Category V, and 7 of 9 lakes were the same category, that meant it could not be consumed by human or for agricultural use. In other words, except the mainstreams of 7 river systems were fine, other tributaries almost died, and 80% of lakes nearly died. Pan warned that “if we cannot effectively solve water pollution, we will face the problem of unharmonious society after the fulfillment of industrialization and urbanization.”

Pan Yue analyzed the causes of water problem: first, many industrial complexes failed to pass the environmental evaluation and to install the compatible facilitates of pollution prevention. Research findings stated that 110 of the selected 126 industrial complexes failed to meet the requirement, which was 87.3%; second, facilitates of sewage treatment did not function. 38 of the selected 75 sewage treatment plants were malfunctioned, which was 50.6%; third, the unbalance of structural industrial policy, for example, there were 20 of 35 chemical industrial factories at the Longmen Industrial Complex in Shanxi Province; fourth, the illegal drainage and excess of sewage, over 200 of the selected 500 enterprises failed to meet the requirement; fifth, some enterprise did not install prevention facilities; sixth, livestock and poultry further polluted the water, for example, in 2007, cyanobacteria blooms occurred in Taihu Lake, where there were over 300 industrial enterprises such as chemical, dyeing, plating and pharmacy that caused water pollution. Those enterprises included township enterprises, national as well as transnational corporations. Ma Jun criticized that “the backyard of the world factory will become the rubbish bin and drainage of the world”.

Pan Yue’s article entitled “An Analysis of Ecological Civilization of Socialism” (2006) argued that “capitalism is the fundamental cause of the global ecological crisis. Ecological crisis has become the new means of transferring the economic crisis.”

       He commented that China has confronted ecological crisis because China is copying modernization from western developed countries. China has carried out the rapid economic growth that western countries spent 100 years to achieve. Thus within 20 years, China undoubtedly has the ecological crisis that western countries has confronted over the past 100 years. China’s GDP growth and foreign direct investment are top ranked, but the consumption of coals, oil, and steel, the emission of CO2 and CODchemical oxygen demandare top ranked too. In the era of globalization, developed countries have imposed ecological colonialism on developing countries through the transfer of polluted industries; in China, the pollution in the east is transferred to the west, the pollution of the city is transferred to the countryside, the rich consumes and the poor suffers pollution of production. Pan criticized that “some cadres in China have embraced the improper developmentalism and are totally occupied by personal career that led to social and environmental injustice. This violates the credentials of socialism and is alienated from the socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Pan argued that western industrial civilization was out of religious reform, renaissance, and technological revolution, but the utmost important reason was the expansions of oversea colonies that largely helped western countries transfer the internal social conflicts and contradictions to their overseas colonies. The developed countries have only 15% of the world population but they occupy over 80% of the world resources. They upgrade their own standard of the environmental protection, but transfer the highly consumed and polluted industries to the developing countries, in order to avoid the ecological responsibility.

Being the deputy director of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), Pan Yue publicly criticized capitalism. On the one hand, it showed that the ruling class was highly concerned about the ecological crisis, but on the other hand, it ironically proved that the logic of capital is still occupying the mainstream society. The current environmental policy is very passive, that refers to a popular saying that “develop now and clean-up later”. This is only concerned about preventive methods and the imposition of legal constraints. However, the nature of capital is the everlasting production and reproduction that is embedded in industrialization and urbanization, unstoppably exploit the nature. Hence, once the world factory still functions, adopts the export-oriented industrial policy, and chases after GDP growth, it is impossible to solve the existing ecological crisis. This is the fundamental reason why the environmental policy cannot be completely carried out, except only some trivial resolutions.

The ecological civilization of socialism is a perspective of the western leftists who criticize capitalism and industrial civilization, not taken from economic standpoint, but particularly from cultural aspects. Actually, in the 19th and 20th centuries, Asian thinkers and social activists like Gandhi of India and Liang Shuming, a Buddhist and Confucian of China, had already criticized the “barbarian” western civilization. They commented that western society worshiped individualism and chased after personal profits and competitions, but they stated that the nature of human should be self-restricted and being humble, concerned about ethics and friendship. And they urged for having “non-violence” and “courtesy / rationality” as the driving force of social transformation. Chinese ancient thinkers also teach people not to become greedy, for example, in his book, Moral Classics, Laozi states that human’s greedy will bring a disaster to the nature, “if anybody wants to exploit the whole world, I think it will be ended up in disaster” (quoted from Chapter 29). Moreover, “the largest disaster is greedy” (quoted from Chapter 46). In a word, it will contribute to future development of human beings if we re-interpret and activate the cultural thought of ancient thinkers.