While reading ‘Will the boat sink the water: the life of China’s peasants‘, i realised economic development is not transferable. Pollution is very much so.
Husband and wife, Chen and Wu have collaborated before—on a report on pollution on the Huai River, China’s sixth longest waterway and arguably its dirtiest. They visited 48 cities along the Huai and reported that of the river’s 191 large tributeries, 80 percent of the water had turned black.
I wasn’t quite sure what to imagine, but the book paints a reality check for its readers. I’d imagined obvious floaters in slightly smelly rivers, maybe mile-wide slicks; i had in mind such a thin realisation of ‘pollution’ and ‘consequence’,
Pollutants..bonded together into enormous barge-like collections of scum that putrefied the river. At times the brown lather—a noxious mix of trash, effluent and untreated waste—stretched more than 60 miles and stood six feet high in places.. Drinking water had so damaged the health of those who lived along the river that the People’s Liberation Army stopped conscripting local residents because they were unfit for service.
Land desecrated, diseased air and water, pilfered coffers and resources, and rocketing levels of cancer in their children, their livestock and food supply: this is another level from drought, poverty, simple political corruption. I do think behind pollution is often corruption, and a hand in creating an environment unfit for life is one that murders. And the wonderful thing about the environment is that harming it is inescapably harming yourself.
A documentary by Ruby Yang + Thomas Lennon lends another peek.
China, Anhui province, Gurao
Every morning, workers search through wastewater to scoop out the stones used to make stonewash denim.