Monday, August 12, 2013

On Chinese Rain

New Hampshire friends, I am very sorry to hear about the tragedy in Manchester last night. It is not dissimilar from what happened in Penacook/Boscawen a few years back. I hope we will learn that the answer is not armored cars for local police departments, but mental health policy changes and alertness on the part of clergy, mental health workers and all of us.

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Li Shizhen Collects Medical Herbs
The Chinese word for rain is 雨 or yue. Yan mo (淹没) is the word for flooding by forces of nature. Ancient Chinese classified water based in its apparent source, either sky or earth. The sky waters were called "heaven's spring." Li Shi Zhen in Outline Treatise of Materia Medica listed 13 types of sky waters and 30 types of earth waters each with its own medical use. (from Warren Peltier, Ancient Art of Tea, 2011, pp.34.)

On Thursday afternoon, Deborah and I will alight at Beijing Airport, which saw hundreds of delayed flights yesterday due to flooding as well as the death of a worker from a lightning strike. This summer has been a bad one for rain in China, especially my former home in Dongbei (Northeast China).

"By Friday, pounding rain in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, as well as the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, had caused flooding and affected 2.28 million people, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

"Floods have ruined 1.07 million hectares of crops and plants, resulting in direct economic losses of 6.6 billion yuan ($1.08 billion), according to the headquarters," according to a news report in China Daily. Last week, I learned that China has moved its grain production over the last few decades from the Yellow River to the three northeasterly provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang. That would be like the US giving up on Indiana and Nebraska and moving all grain production to New England. Yikes!

One of the things that China can be very proud of is that through long-term efforts, it has successfully fed nearly 20% of the world’s population with less than 10% of the world's cultivated land. The main products include rice, corn, wheat, and soybean. China's average yield of grain is among the top in the world. In 2005, the total planting area reached 104.3 million hectares, and the aggregate production exceeded 484 million tons, among which the production of rice, wheat, and corn was 180.6 million tons, 97.5 million tons and 139.4 million tons, respectively. This number has grown in the ensuing seven or eight years, but now about 1% of China's total cropland has been flooded.

Reasonable prognostications by experts in agriculture and water indicate that the situation will only deteriorate. If you want to read more, visit http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/featured-water-stories/choke-point-china/.