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Download The Yellow River: The Problem of Water in Modern China by David A. Pietz PDF

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By David A. Pietz

Flowing in the course of the middle of the North China Plain―home to 2 hundred million people―the Yellow River sustains one in all China’s center areas. but this important water provide has develop into hugely susceptible in contemporary many years, with probably severe repercussions for China’s financial, social, and political balance. The Yellow River is an investigative excursion to the resource of China’s modern water main issue, mapping the confluence of forces that experience formed the trouble that the world’s so much populous country now faces in dealing with its water reserves.

chinese language governments have lengthy struggled to keep up ecological balance alongside the Yellow River, venture bold courses of canal and dike development to mitigate the results of recurrent droughts and floods. yet rather in the course of the Maoist years the North China undeniable used to be noticeably re-engineered to make use of each drop of water for irrigation and hydroelectric new release. As David A. Pietz exhibits, Maoist water administration from 1949 to 1976 forged an extended shadow over the reform interval, starting in 1978. swift city development, commercial enlargement, and agricultural intensification over the last 3 many years of China’s financial increase were learned on a water source base that used to be acutely compromised, with results which were more challenging and expensive to beat with each one passing decade. Chronicling this advanced legacy, The Yellow River presents very important perception into how water demanding situations will impact China’s path as a twenty-first-century worldwide power.

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Extra info for The Yellow River: The Problem of Water in Modern China

Sample text

Here, more than elsewhere, the state served (often unsuccessfully) as the guarantor of ecological stability. The state took primary responsibility for building and maintaining many big waterworks for flood control. . 27 During most of the imperial period, a focus of state activity on the North China Plain was control of the Yellow River. Although state management practices strongly supported the efforts of local organizations to develop irrigation systems, the principal objective of the state was to control flooding in the lower Yellow River valley.

The state locked itself into maintaining large dike systems on the Yellow River, which, if neglected, could be destroyed in a summer torrent, as sedimentation steadily raised the riverbed. Such disasters did happen on a number of occasions during the imperial period, when the state lapsed in its commitment to control the waters on the North China Plain. An indication of the challenges faced in maintaining the great water systems of the imperial period is suggested by the history of the Zhengguo Canal.

These chasms first appear when runoff from heavy rains begins to cut minor gullies into the loess. What starts as a gully is quickly transformed into a channel full of thick, ochre-colored torrent as runoff removes ever greater amounts of deposits. There is evidence that the loess highlands had significant forest cover at one time, but the expansion of human populations and their agricultural practices by 500 bce rendered the region largely denuded. Indeed, texts from the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770– 221 bce) comment on the muddiness of the Yellow River, suggesting that deforestation was well under way by this time.

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