|Scooped by Paige Therien|
The huge economic growth that China has undergone in the past few decades is having dire consequences on the most important life-sustaining resource on Earth. Although intensive water access and sanitation infrastructures have recently been widely introduced and improved, China's per capita consumption of water is less than a third of the global average. The formation of special economic zones has enabled an explosive rate of urbanization and in its wake, a delicious taste of indulgent (i.e. high-cost) Western living. The millions of migrants coming into the cities from villages now have more access to things like electricity, showers, washing machines, and toilets. But why is the consumption rate so uneven?
These special economic zones and other large cities offer manufacturing, industry, and mining opportunities to many businesses from around the globe, providing millions of Chinese with jobs, and many other countries with goods. However, it is becoming further and further away from the win-win situation which it was intended to be and which it may initially sound like. The types of work that has led to China's growth largely rely on cheap, unsafe labor and materials. They also require huge quantities of water to be carried-out; China is essentially indirectly exporting their water along with their produced goods. China is formally considered "water scarce" because 11 of their regions have renewable water sources which are under the water poverty line. These regions are responsible for 51 percent of China's industry and 38 percent of their agricultural outputs. However, they are being subjected to water usage limits.
China has always been more heavily populated in its eastern regions due to the amount of rainfall it receives, the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and the general topography of the country. As the number of people migrating into eastern urban areas increases, the water is following suit, drying up and becoming more polluted nation-wide. China's supply and demand of water is very unbalanced. China has 20 percent of the world's population and only 7 percent of the world's fresh water (2012). While the demand is ever increasing due to high populations and drastic lifestyle changes, China is quickly losing their supply of water to exploitation of aquifers, pollution from industries, and pollution from inadequate sewage treatment. This has and will continue to have intense effects on the people and the local and global environments.
This is a series of very informative, interactive infographics detailing the "big picture" of China's water crisis.