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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII - Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

China and its 2030 'water' deadline.

A more basic problem cannot be conceived.

by StFerdIII



An untold story of Beijing and China's development is water – and the engineering projects that are trying to divert water from the South to the North. This infrastructure 'boom' is hidden to the eye. What one sees in Beijing is modernity, speed, money and especially size. Big, bigger, and huge. Size in everything matters. Scale and scope are meant to impress. In fact it overawes in many ways.

Here in Beijing, everything is on an enormous scale. A city with an official population of 20 millions, most likely has a real population of 25-30 millions. Urbanization stretches forever off a complicated lace network of highways and ring roads; with endless apartment blocs dominated by mountains of new corporate, hotel and financial towers fading into the horizon. Its U$200 billion plus economy is 16% the size of Canada's, increasing by 5 fold in the past 25 years. It looks set to double within 10 years. Per capita income is over U$10.000 and rising. Real estate is 3-5 times more expensive per square foot than most large Western cities. Large fancy cars parade down choked avenues. Money is the secular idol of a city that sees no limit to anything. It is hard to convey the dynamism of such a place and its size.

Everything seems massive. The Forbidden City is the biggest palace compound in the world at almost 8 million square feet in size. Tianamen Square is larger than Red Square, neatly sealed off with a huge Mao-soleum housing the body of what can only be described as the leader of the cult of Mao. The $40 billion Olympic venue and park is the largest Olympic site in history, and is over 6 times the scale of the area in Athens at a cost of $ 40 billion. This does not include the tens of billions used to tear down the sea of apartment blocs, old buildings and contaminated earth which dominated the area 30 minutes north of the center; to make way for the complex of huge new offices, corporate megaliths; and hotels which surround the site like modern day medieval towers protecting the inner keep. In just 5 years the Chinese built what is essentially a huge city to host the Olympics. One can be in awe of ancient edifices and building techniques. But this marvel is surely one of historical import.

Yet in spite of this success and dynamism there is one important problem – water and the lack of it. It is China's biggest threat. The Middle East has more water than northern China. Northern China is basically a desert one created by historical human usage and de-vegetation; and by a natural lack of water courses, sheds and riverine systems. 80% of China's water is in the 'south'. Yet the north is 40% of the economy containing a 1/3 of the population. Unless the north somehow gets more water it will implode. The Ministry of Water Resources has said that if business continues as usual, supply of water will not be able to meet demand by 2030. The local supply deficit is about 60% of current water usage. This gap between demand and faltering supply will only widen.

In Beijing the main river the Yongding, is at times dry. The local government is spending many billions each year renewing this river and its downstream sources. It is highly polluted. Yet without this major river Beijing would never have developed from a desolate settlement into a metropolis. At one time of course Beijing was on the coast and was a major port [during the Ming dynasty]. It is still the main source of irrigation for the farmland outside of Beijing, and the rivulets and lakes throughout the city are its tributaries. Centuries ago, there were vast waters in the western side of the capital city full of fish, lotus, and waterfowl, and temples. The Ming and then the Qing or Manchu elite built pavilions, gardens and villas on its banks. Now it is a greenish-brackish polluted mess and at times in danger of drying up in places.

2030 will come fast. Over 100 projects in China are diverting water from the well supplied 'South' which enjoys a per-capita water surplus, to the North. These are engineering projects of a scale previously unknown. They drive hundreds of billions in capital and operational spend each year. I read somewhere that in the past 5 years the Communist Central Government has spent $ 8 trillion on these public works projects – a large percentage of which was funded by debt. Like many things in China it is hard to know if this is true or not. But the scope of the water issue probably understates the necessary investment. $8 Trillion is just a start. Just in Beijing alone the water problem is going to cost Trillions to resolve.

The great threat to China is not geo-political, American hegemony and rivalry, the 'globalism' of trade, technology, finance and culture, and not Western 'predations' in Korea and Japan. It is water. A more basic problem cannot be found.  And I would not bet against the Chinese finding a solution to this most banal and yet vital of issues. 

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