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Claudio O. Delang

Abstract

This paper looks at the changes that occurred in the rural area of the Sai Kung Peninsula in Hong Kong’s New Territories from the 16th century, and uses it as a case-study to show the complex range of forces that can act on a locale. Throughout its history, land use and economic activities on the Sai Kung Peninsula have been driven to a great extent by non-local factors, including distant warfare leading to mass immigration and political decisions leading to mass emigration. However, once Hong Kong became an important outpost of Britain’s colonial empire it became integrated into a global trade network and thus became sensitive to economic and technological changes taking place thousands of miles away. In the 20th century, the Sai Kung Peninsula developed in response to Hong Kong’s growth as an international trade hub, finding its agricultural output overwhelmed by cheap foreign products, and its industry challenged by foreign technological advances.

Open access

Claudio O. Delang

Abstract

China is the most populated country in the world, but has relatively little fertile land, and even less water. Maintaining the quality of its agricultural land is of paramount importance if China wants to feed its very large and growing population. Yet, China is one of the countries with the largest amount of polluted soil. This paper looks at the causes and distribution of soil pollution in China. It first looks at the amount of organic and inorganic soil pollutants and their geographic distribution. It then looks at the causes of soil pollution, making the distinction between agricultural activities, industrial activities, and urbanization. Pollution from agricultural activities stems primarily from the excessive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers used on farmland, and is mainly located in the south, where most of the food is produced. Pollution from industrial activities is due to airborne industrial pollutants that fall on to the land, and is mainly located in the west of the country, where most manufacturing activities take place. Pollution from urbanization is mainly due to the very large amount of solid, liquid and gaseous waste generated in a small area with insufficient treatment facilities, and exhaust fumes from vehicles, and is located around the largest cities, or roads. The result is that one fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, and an area the size of Taiwan is so polluted that farming should not be allowed there at all.