Pollution of Yangtze River

March 20, 2023, 10:28 a.m.

Welcome to the yangtze: a source of life, and now death, for 400 million chinese residents.

China's Yangtze River, the third-longest in the world, is now so polluted that nearly half the people who depend on it are without safe drinking water.

Residents along China's Yangtze River are faced with a deadly choice.

Villagers can either drink its heavily-polluted waters or shoulder the expense of buying bottled water. With that cost often too great and with nearby factories only adding to the pollution, these towns have consequently been branded as "cancer villages," as instances of stomach, throat, and liver-related cancers have affected residents at a rate eight to nine times China's national average.

The Yangtze is China's largest and the world's third-longest river. It supports over 400 million people and is, unfortunately, perhaps the world's most polluted river accounting for 55 percent of the material that ends up in the adjacent seas and ocean.

This amount of plastic has disastrous consequences for wildlife as well. Animals in the areas surrounding the river have been found with microplastics in their stomachs, slowly killing them.

The Chinese paddlefish, for instance, are creatures that have alive since the time of the dinosaurs, having survived more than 200 million years of Earth's seismic shifts. But in the last few decades, these living fossils have gone extinct as a result of the pollution in its native habitat.

Indeed, the situation in the Yangtze is so dire that the prehistoric fish which outlived the dinosaurs has been obliterated by man.

Authoritative sources have reported that Yangtze pollution is killing people in Eastern China.

There's still a long road ahead for China because while the air is improving, it's still not healthy.

Besides, then there's the whole issue of water pollution.

Just ten rivers worldwide account for providing 90 percent of the plastic that winds up in the oceans. The Yangtze was reported at one point to be the worst of them, transporting up to 1.5 million metric tons of plastic into the Pacific. In contrast, the Thames carries about 18 tons of plastic.

The Yangtze's rate of pollution is perhaps matched by Indonesia's Citarum River, whose dense pollutants are contained to a smaller area and whose fish population has dropped off nearly 98 percent since 2008.

The Yangtze is vast; fed by roughly 700 tributaries. All of these contribute to the overall level of pollution that eventually bleeds into the Pacific Ocean. This particular travel pattern of pollutants forms what's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, (GPGP) or the Pacific trash vortex.

Annually, the Yangtze transports 2.5 billion metric tons of goods, making it also the busiest inland river in the world. China's highly-consumerist lifestyle means its waste management system can't keep up with all the single-use plastics it produces and so these products wind up in the waterways. It's pretty much the same story the world over but if things continue at the current pace, then by 2050, the number of plastics in the World Ocean will be the same as once there were fish, but there will be no fish at all.

This is the same year that a report finds climate change will reach doomsday proportions.

Do you consider river pollution to be a problem that concerns everyone, and how do you think the situation should be solved?

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