China’s rivers are disappearing. After a three-year survey by the nation’s Ministry of Water Resourses, China has some 28,000 fewer rivers than everyone believed it had. Of course, the previous figure of roughly 50,000 was an official government number, and we all know we can trust the Chinese government to dispense accurate and timely information about as often as the History Channel dispenses programs that don’t involve Bigfoot, Nostradamus, Ancient Aliens, Nazis, or the Illuminati. Perhaps there really were that many rivers in China and perhaps the number was a bit smaller. Regardless, what the study revealed is an ecological disaster if that 50,000 had been 40,000 or even 30,000.
Predictably, the Chinese government has blamed the loss other people — the bureaucrats who came before them or that Ol’ Debbil Climate Change. The truth, however, is that most of the fault lies squarely on their stupid adherence to the deadly precepts of socialism.
According to the South China Morning Post, officials attributed the decline to global warming and outdated mapping techniques, saying previous estimates were based on incomplete topographical maps from the 1950s. Experts, meanwhile, say there are more direct factors at play — namely, explosive economic development and poor environmental stewardship.
Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, acknowledges that updated mapping techniques could explain some discrepancies in river estimates, though he notes that the government’s findings corroborate those from independent studies.
“Our research has shown that in some areas, especially in north China, rivers are drying up or turning into seasonal rivers,” Ma said in a phone interview with The Verge. There are several explanations for this phenomenon, including deforestation and, to a less certain extent, climate change, though Ma says the two primary catalysts are pollution and overpopulation.
Together, they form a potentially disastrous combination. China’s mushrooming population has added extra strain to its limited water supply, while the country’s rampant industrialization has left many rivers contaminated.
A couple notes here. It’s interesting the Chinese government notes those erroneous maps date back to the 1950s, because that’s the decade of the Great Leap Forward, which resulted in roughly 30 million dead thanks to the famine caused by Mao’s unshakable belief that he knew best. Mao’s bureaucrats couldn’t make maps because they were busy trying to turn an agrarian economy into an industrial economy using every ridiculous collectivist notion they could grab. Afterwards, the government could have produced accurate maps but it spent the next two decades of the Cultural Revolution slaughtering its way across the countryside. Instead of governing an intelligent, industrious population and watching China grow into a prosperous and happy nation, Mao and his band of socialist butchers turned it into a paranoid, poor country whose economy is built on intellectual theft and cyber-banditry.
And that’s where we are right now. Climate change isn’t to blame for China’s missing rivers. The tyrants in Beijing caused the problem. Look to the mega-dams that have displaces millions, re-routed rivers, and destroyed entire ecosystems. Look to the lack of laws that protect the people or the environment, even though the government has all the power to enforce any environmental law it wishes. Despite all the power concentrated at the very top for more than half a century, China is not a progressive utopia but a horror show.
Could we perhaps take a lesson from China and put the brakes on the meddling know-it-alls who, like the tyrants in Beijing, think they know how to run a country all by themselves? I know we’re a long way from Great Leaps Forward and river disappearances but I’d really like to keep as much distance as we can between us and the failures of socialism. America is pretty great and China isn’t. There are reasons for both. Let’s remember them, huh?
(Photo Credit: AdamCohn on Flickr)