This week I will be traveling around Poyang Lake in Jiangxi province to observe and learn more about the environmental toll of China’s urbanization movement.
I’ll be getting on a train in a couple of hours bound for Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province. It’s roughly a four and a half hour ride from Xiamen by D train. I’m going to spend this next week circling around Poyang Lake, traveling first to Nanchang, then around the lake stopping at small villages on my way to Duchang county on the eastern side.
Poyang Lake is the largest lake in all of China, but due to human impacts — the filling of the reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam 500km upstream and possibly the South-North Water Transfer Project — it has been excessively drying up each dry season. Every winter I read reports about this lake shrinking; every year the reports say that the lake is down to its lowest recorded level ever. This year it has been worse than even that. As Jiangxi province has been experiencing an extreme drought on top of everything else, in December the lake was measured at its lowest mark in recorded history. It has been reported that relatively large numbers of fishermen and boat people have been beached and a 2,000 year old bridge that nobody knew about before just revealed itself.
It is my impression that this lake clearly shows the environmental response to China’s rise, and is a measure of what the earth will allow.