Essay 4 - Li 1 Jennifer Li 10/28/09 Peter Lavelle...

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Li 1 Jennifer Li 10/28/09 Peter Lavelle Environment and Agriculture in Modern China The Cause of Environmental Degradation in China As China becomes more populated and industrialized, degradation of nature continues to worsen due to the need for natural resources and living space. The exponentially expanding population not only creates an economic issue but also an environmental issue that worries the Chinese government. Although the relationship between humans and nature remains unclear, Judith Shapiro, the author of Mao’s War Against Nature , and Mark Elvin, who has written Three Thousand Years of Unsustainable Growth , attempt to provide a better understanding of the relationship between the Chinese people and environment through their own perspectives. Through investigating ideological, technological, and political factors, Shapiro argues that Mao’s tyrannical regime is to blame for robbing and causing irreparable damages to the environment while Elvin suggests that such destruction of nature is inevitable in order to sustain the Chinese population. In the past, the Chinese have established much respect towards nature and only took advantage of natural resources when survival came into play; however, the Chinese philosophy regarding nature has taken a dramatic turn, from peaceful to aggressive, ever since the Communist Party has taken over. During ancient times, many restrictions have been
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Li 2 implemented so that there are certain times when no one is allowed to exploit nature, “In the middle of spring ‘one should not exhaust the rivers and the marshes” (Elvin 18). Similar regulations have prevented people from draining natural resources to maintain and preserve nature and the habitants of the animals. Though the Chinese have tried to follow their philosophies, sometimes the poor are forced to break the law since the state has privatized the majority of the land. The Ming emperor has noticed this unequal distribution in wealth and commented, “The essential concern was to keep the people in good condition, and it was not the case that the state had a monopoly of these resources” (Elvin 27). The poor are left with no other options but to violate certain restrictions in order to support their families, as seen when a prefect
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This note was uploaded on 12/10/2009 for the course -2 FSA taught by Professor Yehuda during the Spring '09 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Essay 4 - Li 1 Jennifer Li 10/28/09 Peter Lavelle...

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