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Research aims to address environmental problems

Author  :  Hou Liqiang     Source  :    China Daily     2020-04-27

Photo taken on March 14, 2020 shows scenery along the section of Yangtze River at Xiling Gorge in Zigui county, Central China's Hubei province.[Photo/Xinhua]

Designed to address the gap between environmental research and the Yangtze River's actual remediation needs, front-line research conducted by 5,000 experts sent to 58 cities in the river basin is expected to help local governments make better decisions and address "environmental problems facing the public", said Li Haisheng, head of the National Joint Research Center for Yangtze River Conservation.

The people-centered Yangtze conservation campaign is being rolled out under a principle of "allowing nature to restore itself", said Li, who is also president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

"The campaign aims to address the problem that the results of much environmental research can hardly be applied because the researchers failed to connect their work with actual practices," he said.

The ultimate goal of the campaign is to solve the environmental problems facing the public in the Yangtze River basin.

"If some environmental research can only help researchers publish papers in Science Citation Index Journals without solving any problems for the public, we would rather not conduct any," Li said.

He said team members, mostly young experts, will work "as if they were doctors seeing patients". After tracing the root of "diseases" in each of the cities, the teams will formulate therapies under the principle of allowing nature to play a major role in the river's repair and minimizing the cost.

He said the center also plans to arrange for the country's leading water management experts to carry out group consultations this year to help the front-line "doctors" address "hard nuts to crack".

Allowing nature to restore itself was a principle included in President Xi Jinping's report at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017.

Xi has presided over two symposiums concerning the Yangtze River Economic Belt-in 2016 and 2018. At both conferences, he demanded concerted efforts to protect the Yangtze and avoid excessive development.

"We must proceed with the long-term interests of the Chinese nation to put restoring the ecological environment of the Yangtze River in a dominant position, making all-out efforts to protect it and forbidding large-scale development of the river," he said when chairing the latest symposium in Wuhan in 2018.

Li said many water bodies across the country had proved their strong self-repairing capabilities after local authorities stopped pollutants from entering them.

"If water bodies can resume their capabilities after their pollution sources are cut off, there will be no need to squander money to zheteng," he said.

Zheteng means "senseless vacillation between alternatives" in Chinese. It is often used to refer to unnecessary, repeated changes in the development orientation of a certain cause.

The teams will map out major consumers of Yangtze water and figure out how much they take and what they discharge, which will help a great deal in formulating therapies, Li said, while adding that it was complicated and time-consuming work.

He said the teams will also carry out scientific research on the carrying capacity of the Yangtze's environment-the amount of pollutants the river can accept without negative effects-and how to use it properly.

The Yangtze basin needed development to improve people's livelihoods and create employment opportunities, Li said, but some regions considered the river a trash bin for their development and discharged pollutants ceaselessly.

While it was impossible to stop the discharge of all waste, he said that "in accordance with the carrying capacity, we could manage waste discharge in a precise and lawful manner to promote high quality development."

Editor: Yu Hui

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