The Not-So-Green Olympics

China is trying to do all it can to promote itself as a "green" country in order to win friends and influence commerce as they host this round of the Olympics in Beijing. They are going to all kinds of measures to make the Olympics and their country look like they care about the athletes and the environment. Thus, they are promoting a "Green Games" theme for the Olympics.

But, all that is green isn't necessarily "green." Take a look at this photo of a bay in eastern China. You can view the rest of the linked slideshow to see the extent of their problem. The report reads:

Chinese fishermen pitch in to help clean up the coast of Qingdao, east China's Shandong province, about 550 kms (340 miles) southeast of Beijing on July 1, 2008. China scrambled Thursday to clear tonnes of algae that is covering a third of the Olympic sailing course and causing huge embarrassment for authorities trying to promote a "Green Games."

It's far-fetched to actually believe these fishermen are "pitching in." Can one really think working-class fishermen from China would stop fishing for food and money to clean up slimy blue-green algae in order to just "pitch in"? The government of China has actually mobilized tens of thousands of people. Many of these people are being forced to work. Ah, the joys of living in a communist regime.

Also, the caption makes it sound like it was being cleaned up on that Thursday, July 3. Actually, the authorities don't even know if the area will be cleaned up by August. However, this current problem has been growing since late May. Meanwhile, sailing teams have to train in the area.

While media reports try to make the enormity of this problem seem small by saying that only one-third of the training area has been inundated, the actual scale of their problem is much more vast. Xinhua, the official news reporting agency of China, has the affected area encompassing over 5,000 square miles! Basically, this is not new for them. That region of China has long suffered from these algal blooms.

As their population and the need for water management has grown, the actual use of technology to manage their water releases has not kept up. In July 2007, a lake in the northeastern city of Changchun (just to the northeast and across the Gulf of Chihli) left 25,000 without water and struggling to find bottled water. In October 2007, another lake to the south of Qingdao suffered a massive algal outbreak that had a major economic impact on the lake's fish population. And before that, in May 2007, China had to divert water from the Yangtze River into the Taihu Lake (north of Singapore). Over two million people get their water from Lake Taihu.