Lakes? Who needs lakes?

 134 352836150 1Be8B98393First it was global warming, now it’s factory pollution. Three weeks after Xinhua reported that the country’s largest lake, Qinghai Hu, could evaporate from rising temperatures within two centuries, the central news agency has come out with a new report saying Dongting Lake (Ê¥ûÂ∫≠Êπñ), China’s second largest, is at serious risk of “environmental decay.”

The article notes recent news that the Baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, which used to swim in Dongting, has been declared “functionally extinct” and places a preponderance of blame for the lake’s deterioration on the 101 paper factories that “clandestinely discharge” more than 100 tons of untreated industrial effluent into the lake every year.

But Xinhua doesn’t heap all its venom over the death of the lake on factories. There are also some choice words for overzealous fishermen, and then this little barb inspired by official interference in lawsuits related to the pollution:

Referring to the serious environmental degradation in and around , Liu Shuai [with the Committee for Environmental and Resource Protection] said, “The protectionist attitude and nonfeasance (failure to perform an act required by law) of the local government are the fundamental causes.” [Full Text]

Slamming local governments for environmental “nonfeasance” may be de rigueur for the central government these days, but giving ultimate credit for positive developments to NGOs is not. Hence the article’s biggest surprise: the generous space it gives to the World Wide Fund for Nature, whose efforts in the area, the article says, “are proving to be the most helpful in preserving the environment in the Yangtze Basin.”

Now maybe if other international NGOs could work cute Chinese animals into their logos…

[Photo: Men gather shellfish on the shores of Dongting Lake. By Rob Stevens]

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