Water pollution and one-child policy

31 January, 2013

From VOA Learning English, welcome to AS IT IS!

AS IT IS --- our new magazine show in Special English. Today and in the days to come, we will be expanding on major world events and reporting on issues that concern you. We will be talking with newsmakers, experts and VOA’s own reporters to help make sense of this quickly changing world --- AS IT IS.

I’m June Simms. You are listening to As It Is.

China has been receiving a lot of international attention because of its air pollution. But now, many Chinese are discussing another environmental concern: water pollution. Steve Ember has more about the debate over the country’s water quality.

Official reports have shown that China has about 1,700 water pollution accidents a year. Reports also show that up to 40 percent of the country’s rivers are seriously polluted.

In China’s capital, Beijing, the city government is just starting to release information about water quality.

Zhao Feihong is a water researcher at the Beijing Healthcare Association. Her husband is also a water researcher. She says they have not used the city’s water supply for drinking water in 20 years. She says it is good that Beijing officials are beginning to tell people how clean their drinking water is.

“The fact that it can be disclosed is an improvement for the common people who will better understand the water that they drink. So this is a relatively good thing. But I think that publicizing that figure is not enough.”

Zhao Feihong says the city government should do more than report on water quality every three months. She wants officials to tell people immediately what to do if something affects the drinking water.

Hao Yunggang lives in Beijing. He took pictures of a strange-looking material the water left in his home. He later put the pictures on the social media site Weibo.

“I did not anticipate that the level of interest would be so high. But these days, people have higher and higher expectations about the quality of life, whether it is water, food safety, pollution or even traffic.”

Hao Yungang says he believes officials who say Beijing’s water is safe where it starts. But, he is not sure about what happens between the water treatment center and his home.

I’m Steve Ember.

Australian researchers say a new study measures how China’s one-child policy has affected generations of people. The study was published in Science Magazine. It has the term “Little Emperors” in its name. Kelly Jean Kelly explains that the name suggests that the one-child family has produced people who demand to get their own way.

The Australian researchers studied 421 adults in China. The researchers compared people who were born before and after the one-child population control policy began in 1979.

The research team designed games and questions to understand behavior and personalities. One test was called the “trust game.” In the game, one person was given some money. He or she could give some of that money to a stranger as a donation or investment. The social scientists found that those born under the one-child policy would give less money. And, people born under the one child policy also returned less to the person who gave them the money, even if they had earned a profit from it.

Team researcher Nisvan Erkal is an associate professor in the department of economics at the University of Melbourne. She says the one-child policy has affected generations of Chinese.

“Those people born under the one-child policy and who are single children as a result of the policy are significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse and less competitive.”

Miz Erkal says there is talk in the country about ending the policy. Still, Erkal says the effects of the one-child policy could take a long time to change.

And that’s AS IT IS for today.

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