22 September 2008

Hydrolic Empires

During the Olympics, Beijing had enough water. Now (suddenly!) there is a "grim shortage," and government officials have ordered the transfer of 300 million cubic meters from Hebei, which is already suffering a severe drought. (Beijing's annual consumption is 3.5 billion cubic meters.)

Bottom Line: Good news: Beijing will get the water. Bad news: Hebei loses it without warning. Typical news: Totalitarian governments do what they want.

1 comment:

darius said...

for your other readers, i wanted to elaborate on some of the 'interesting' aguanomics of the country.

A massive system of canals has been built to carry water from the south to the dessertified north (salination, sedimentation, and a near-20 ft drop in watertable in the north)

The chinese people feel great pride in this achievement. On the scale of engineering feats--like the Eiffel tower for France.

The problem, beyond the irreversibility of existing problems, is that farmers that these canals are supposed to support are themeselves evaporating. The south is more productive, and across the country there is an urban-ward migration (1.4 million rural workers per year) so even the benevolent nature of this feat is dubious.

The educated policy-oriented chinese that I knew acknowledged these shortcomings, but it still seems to symbolize hope and action to them.

I'm not sure why canals are different than, say, Shanghai's maglev train, which has received organized criticism from the people. (rightly so.) Probably because the national party doesn't feel threatened by a setback of the Shanghai civic govt?