Location [Stds. 1, 3]
Place [Stds. 4, 7, 9, 10]
Human-Environment Interaction [Stds. 8, 12, 14-18]
Movement [Stds. 11, 13]
Regions [Stds. 2, 5, 6]


 Standard 14: Human Actions
Modify the Physical Environment

TABLE OF CONTENTS
STANDARD 14 INTRODUCTION: AGRICULTURE, INDUSTRIALIZATION, CONSUMERISM

Humans have impacted the environments within which they live since the beginning of time. However, the environmental consequences of human actions have varied in intensity over time. Over-grazing, over-population, excessive extraction of raw materials, and environmental pollution all have a long and complicated history.

The modification of physical environments in order to develop highly productive agricultural systems in China, Japan, and Korea has a long history. The control of water, terracing, and the use of organic fertilizers over millennia have been critical elements in the fashioning of agricultural landscapes in East Asia. These efforts brought about not only highly productive agricultural systems based upon irrigated rice, but also landscapes of extraordinary beauty.

However, it is industrialization and consumerism, having accelerated over the past half century, that have been most significant in causing alarm, as people throughout the world cope with issues of depleted resources.

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AGRICULTURE
// JAPAN: RICE IN JAPAN

READING: The Miracle of Rice [Japan's Secret Garden, NOVA, PBS] A reading about the cultural and economic significance of rice in Japan. Also discusses the "rice crisis" throughout Asia. With a video clip showing changes to a rice terrace over a growing season. Also see the animated feature, Build a Rice Paddy, which takes the viewer step-by-step through the process of how a terraced rice paddy is constructed.

ADDITIONAL READING: Wet Rice Agriculture [Asia for Educators] A short reading about wet rice agriculture.

// CHINA: CONTROLLING WATER RESOURCES
.. TERRACING AND IRRIGATION

READING: Supplementing Geography: Terracing and Irrigation [Asia for Educators]

IMAGES: Dry crop terracing, Wubao, Shaanxi (top); Rice fields at Lao Hu Zui, Yunnan Province (bottom)

.. CHANG JIANG (YANGZI OR YANGTZE RIVER) AND THE THREE GORGES DAM

As China's "main street," the Chang Jiang (Yangzi or Yangtze River) courses over 6,300 km, through several of China's most economically developed regions. Several excellent river ports — Shanghai, Zhenjiang, Nanjing, Wuhan, Yichang, and Chongqing — are located near or along the Chang Jiang, making the Chang Jiang one of the world's busiest inland waterways.

The flow of the Chang Jiang is some 20 times greater than that of the Huang He. As much of 40% of China's total grain production, 70% of rice output, and more than 40% of the population are associated with the Chang Jiang's vast basin that includes more than 3,000 tributaries. With its numerous tributaries, the Chang Jiang drains nearly 20% of China's total area. Its upper reaches tap the uplands of the Tibetan Plateau before sweeping across the enormous and agriculturally productive Sichuan Basin that supports nearly 10% of China's total population. It is in the middle course of the Chang Jiang that the controversial Three Gorges Dam is being constructed.

Wrapped in environmental, engineering, and political controversy, the Three Gorges Dam is a huge public works project — the largest dam in the world, rivaling the building of not only China's great historical projects such as the Grand Canal and Great Wall, but also modern projects elsewhere in the world. Increasing clean energy, controlling floods, and stimulating economic development are but a few of the stated objectives of the Three Gorges project. Below the Three Gorges Dam are the great flood plains of the Chang Jiang, as well as the major tributaries on its north and south banks. At the mouth of the river is the great and productive Chang Jiang delta and metropolitan Shanghai. With the completion of this project, disastrous floods are expected to be eliminated.

READING: The Great Wall Across the Yangtze [PBS]

ADDITIONAL LINK: China's Three Gorges Dam: An Environmental Catastrophe? [Scientific American]

.. IMPERIAL WATER CONTROL IN THE 1700s

READING: The Qianlong Emperor's Inspection of Water Control Measures [Asia for Educators] A short paragraph about the importance of water control measures, specifically the prevention of flooding at the confluence of the Yellow (Huang) and Huai rivers. After reading the paragraph, view the scroll that depicts the Qianlong Emperor inspecting water control measures at the Huang-Huai confluence. The scroll also illustrates the various dike construction techniques in use at the time. Also explore the rest of this website — Recording the Grandeur of the Qing — for more on the art, economy, and government of Qing-dynasty China.

IMAGES: Workers digging up earth to build up the dike at the Huang-Huai confluence, from The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Four: The Confluence of the Huai and Yellow Rivers, 1770
DEFORESTATION
// CHINA

TWO READINGS:

China to Raise Taxes on Gas Guzzlers and Chopsticks [The New York Times, March 22, 2006]

Deforestation and Desiccation in China: A Preliminary Study [The Project on Environmental Scarcities, State Capacity, and Civil Violence, University of Toronto]

// VIETNAM
LINK: Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures [Mongabay.com]
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