World’s Largest Megacity

China’s Pearl River Delta has overtaken Tokyo to become the world’s largest urban area in both size and population, according to a report from the World Bank. The megacity – which covers a significant part of China’s manufacturing heartland and includes the cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan – is now home to more people than the countries of Canada, Argentina or Australia. (emphasis mine)

via China’s Pearl River Delta overtakes Tokyo as world’s largest megacity | Cities | The Guardian.

China’s Pearl River Delta overtakes Tokyo as world’s largest megacity | Cities | The Guardian

Megacities have more than 10 million people.  This area is now larger than Tokyo, both in size and population.  Most of the growth has taken place in just the last few years.

China’s Pearl River Delta overtakes Tokyo as world’s largest megacity | Cities | The Guardian

Urbanisation in the Pearl River Delta – grey represents areas which were urban in 2000; red shows new urban areas in 2010. Illustration: University of Wisconsin-Madison/World Bank

Ships – Across the Ocean to Trade

China’s Growth Fuels Boom in World Shipping Traffic.

Since ships haul 90 percent of world trade, the changes in ship traffic reflect changes in the global economy, especially the rising importance of Asia. Although the Atlantic Ocean’s share of global traffic dropped from nearly 40 percent in 1992 to 32 percent in 2012, the Pacific’s share rose from 35 to 39 percent.

Toxic Harvest

Damp with sweat, dust, and chaff, [the farmer] pulls a plastic hose into a water pump that is powered by a truck with a belt-drive. The moment the engines roar, the ingenious makeshift machine fills the hose with turbid water from the nearby canal where a pharmaceutical factory has just dumped its rancid effluent.

via Toxic Water: Across Much of China, Huge Harvests Irrigated with Industrial and Agricultural Runoff | Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Photo © Aaron Jaffe / Circle of Blue
Polluted water and trash mingle on the bank of the Yellow River in Lanzhou, China.

As farmers across China produce increasing amounts of food to feed a burgeoning middle-class surge, much of it is irrigated with polluted water.

Much of China’s water is so contaminated that it should not even be touched, yet tremendous amounts of the grains, vegetables, and fruits that are served in homes and restaurants, as well as textiles that are sold in markets, are irrigated with untreated industrial waste water.

The beef and pork desired by the middle- and upper classes consume large amounts of grain, grown with polluted water.  Rice, too, is contaminated with cadmium,

 a heavy metal that is discharged in mining and industrial sewage, according to scientists at Nanjing Agricultural University.

Nearly 15% of China’s river water is unusable for any purpose, and half the groundwater nation wide is polluted.  The worst pollution is in industrial areas in the southeast, and the drier agricultural areas in the northeast.

Half of the water pollution is actually caused by intensive farming:

fertilizers, pesticides, and livestock waste that are carried into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and underground aquifers by rainfall and snowmelt.

Photo © Adam Dean for Circle of Blue


High nutrient levels from fertilizer runoff produce mats of thick algae in a main-stem irrigation canal in Liaoning Province.

“China is developing too rapidly,” Wang told Circle of Blue. “It took Western countries 100 and more years to develop to this level — it took China 30 years. “

Although China sees the problems, addressing them is another issue entirely.  Restrictions will slow economic growth, and the central government doesn’t want that to happen.

“All the environmental problems in China are political problems,” Hu Kanping told Circle of Blue. “And water pollution is more difficult to address than air pollution. In many areas, there’s resistance from farmers and local governments to address this problem, because it will affect their irrigation; it will raise their water fees and slow local GDP growth.”

Chinese Commentary on Their Water Projects

“Do not impose on others what you yourselves do not desire.” This is Confucius’ version of the Golden Rule, and the writer quotes it when talking about the ubiquitous Chinese water diversion projects.

I was surprised at how openly critical this piece is – but it’s written for the English version of the paper, so may it didn’t run in the Chinese version.

via Myriad water diversion projects suggest rapid degradation of local environment | Shanghai Daily.

Myriad water diversion projects suggest rapid degradation of local environment | Shanghai Daily

Thia Was a Common Sight in 1800


Your tea is on its way ... | Shanghai Daily

Your tea is on its way … | Shanghai Daily.

Disappearing Water

China Moves Africa

 BBC News - China to build new East Africa railway line

BBC News – China to build new East Africa railway line.

China is paying for 90% of a new rail line from Mombasa to Nairobi.

The first section will link the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, reducing the journey time from 15 hours to about four.

It is said to be the country’s biggest infrastructure project since independence 50 years ago.

The line will be completed by 2017, and then work will begin on the next sections.  Eventually it will extend to South Sudan.

Construction of the original line began in Mombasa 1895 and the railway reached Nairobi in 1899.

It reached the shore of Lake Victoria in December 1901.

During the difficult and often dangerous work, at least 2,000 workers lost their lives – many of them Indian labourers imported to East Africa to build the railway.

Hopefully this time around workers will be better protected.  The articles didn’t mention how many of the workers will be Chinese.  What’s your guess?  and Why is China paying for this?  What will they get out of it?

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