SOCIAL CHANGES IN CHINA Since the early 1990's, Shanghai and other cities have been making up for lost time. In 2005, building at a frenetic pace, the nation expected to lay down the finishing blocks on 4.7 billion square feet or more of construction, a record, up from 2 billion in 1998. The building boom is a principal reason that China is searching the world for energy and natural resources: it needs raw materials to build new cities, and the energy to power them, driving up world commodity prices and threatening global environmental damage. China's heavy reliance on coal to power its overcharged economy has already made it the world's second-largest producer of greenhouse gases, after the United States. And the World Health Organization says China has 7 of the world's 10 most-polluted cities. Tiny airborne particles have drifted just north of San Francisco from coalfired power plants, smelters, dust storms and diesel trucks in China and other Asian countries. Sugai was destroyed by a flood of sludge From the Wall Street Journal, 9/4/02: Economic problems are the biggest challenge. From 1996 to 2000, state-sector restructuring led to the layoffs of 48 million people – equal to the population of Korea. China is home to an estimated 100,000,000 unemployed. To put that in perspective, the US economy employs 115,000,000! Cities are trying to absorb rural laborers leaving unprofitable farms – a throng estimated at 150 million. “Reforms are good for some people but not for us,” says Ma Tao, who, with his wife, was laid off from a state-owned factory. The spread of social unrest is a serious threat to the (communist) party’s grip on power in the future: “Disgruntled Chinese citizens, especially the newly unemployed, join the Falun Gong (a religious group, though persecuted, which has advocated religious freedom throughout the 1990s) as a ‘symbol of protest’.” Author Gordon G. Chang The government says it has thoroughly cleaned the areas to be submerged. But environmentalists say the residue of industrial sites and toilets will further contaminate an already polluted waterway. “They have cleared the garbage mounds less than five years old. Those older than 5 years old are simply buried underneath.” In Zhongbaodao, a village near Yichang in the Yangtze River Valley, archaeologists have revealed more than 200 ancient tombs filled with pottery, porcelain, stoneware, and polished tools dating back at least 7,000 years! They also unearthed a 3,000-year-old kiln from the Shang Dynasty. At countless other sites along the river, scores of treasures have emerged. PBS.org GROWING SOCIAL PROBLEMS The inhabited part of China is roughly half as large as the inhabited part of the US, yet it supports five times as many people. This is made possible only by crowding some 2,000 human beings onto each square mile of cultivated earth in the valleys and floodplains. One’s picture of a big empty landscape is mirrored statistically in the estimate that six sevenths of the population must live on the one third of the land that is cultivable. The US has some 570,000 square miles under cultivation and could greatly increase this area; China has perhaps 450,000 square miles of cultivated land (less than one half acre of foodproducing soil per person), with little prospect of increasing this area by more than a small fraction, even if it is used more intensively. In short, China must feed about 23% of the world’s population from about 7% of the world’s arable land. China: A New History Projected Demand for Water Even as the Yellow River, aquifers, and wells get drier, the need for water continues to swell. Between now and 2030, UN demographers project that China’s population will increase from 1.2 billion to 1.5 billion, an increase that exceeds the entire population of the US. Even if there were no changes in water consumption per person, this would boost the demand for water by one-fourth above current levels. THE CHINESE HAVE TO REDUCE THEIR BIRTHRATE TO AVOID DROWNING IN A POPULATION OF MORE THAN A BILLION. FEMALE INFANTICIDE IS ONE WAY; BIRTH CONTROL AND ABORTION ARE OTHERS. MANY AMERICANS MEANWHILE WANT TO SAVE EVERY FETUS AS A SACRED HUMAN BEING, NEVER MIND ITS MOTHER OR ITS FUTURE. A study by Lester R. Brown depicted a critical situation. Taking into account China’s rapid paving-over of cropland for new factories, roads, and housing; its diminishing returns on applications of fertilizers; and growing shortages of irrigation water, Brown calculated that China was headed toward a huge grain deficit -- a situation that would severely jeopardize world food security by driving grain prices to levels the world’s poor could never afford. IN 2004, China’s forays into the world market to buy 8 million tons of wheat marked what could be the beginning of the global shift from an era of grain surpluses to one of grain scarcity. In Washington, the National Intelligence Council, concerned about the potential effects of rising grain prices on political stability, launched a major investigation that closely corroborated Brown’s findings. Conclusion: Water and food shortages could pose even greater threats to human security in the next century than the ideological threats that had preoccupied us during the Cold War. Worldwatch july/aug 1998 Bill Zierdt, former Economics Professor at Marian College, says: “You just wait. After the Olympics, the Chinese Gov’t will really crack down on protestors.” He claims officials don’t want to raise the ire of the international community beforehand.