Monday, March 31, 2008
Athletes vs. Farmers
What do Chinese farmers and the Olympics athletes have in common? Water. During the Olympics that will be held in Beijing this summer, the city’s water demand is expected to spike up by 30 percent above average. The northern province of Hebei provides the majority of Beijing’s water. Unfortunately, this province is now suffering severe drought due to a lack of winter rain and snow. The four dams that supply water to the regional farmers and the city of Beijing are reported to be 60% lower than average. On top of the current water shortage, China is in the process of building 309km of channels to draw water from the four Hebei dams to the city of Beijing. These channels are intended to bring an extra 300 million cubic meters of water to be used as a “back-up” supply during the time of the Olympics. What will be the consequences of this move? The drought has already affected 1.89 million head of livestock and left 2.43 million people without sufficient drinking water. According to the World Fact book, 43 percent of the Chinese population is employed in agricultural. What will happen to the Hebei farmers if they lose another 300 million cubic meters of water to the city? In China’s efforts to make a good impression on the international community and boost their economy by hosting the Olympics they are creating a situation that will potentially have many unintended consequences. Is it worth jeopardizing the health and livelihood of so many people for the sake of having “green” games and making Beijing the sparkling host city of the 2008 Olympics?