Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics – Dai Qing

In the New York Review of Books, environmental activist Dai Qing writes about China’s dire water shortage and a “looming environmental catastrophe”:

On average, Beijing people have only three hundred cubic meters of water resources per capita, one eighth of the Chinese average”which is 2,200 cubic meters” and one thirtieth of the world average.

But during the Olympic Games, Beijing will enjoy an unprecedented supply of water. Special pipes will bring unpolluted water from the provinces to provide for the whole city, allowing people to enjoy potable water from their taps for the first time”but only for as long as the games last. Meanwhile, when the crowds watch and applaud the Olympic performances at the aquatic events, neither they nor the athletes will be aware that they are not really competing on the waters of Beijing’s original Chaobai River. The “river” they will be using is an artificial creation made by damming the two ends of a long-dry riverbed and filling it with water pumped from deep underground. [Full text]