Dallen’s Environment Field Notes: Man-made Lakes and Mountains

Beijing isn’t very hilly, but some emperors tried to cha    nge that by building their own mountains.


Introduction – How are people connected to the environment? In Beijing there are historical sites that are a compilation and reflection of the entire country.  Beijing has been the capital city of China for a long time now (thousands of years), and through its long history, different rulers have tried to bring their favorite things from around China to Beijing itself.  Since China has had a huge labor force for such a long period of time, the rulers put the people to work digging canals and motes around palaces.  They used the dirt they were digging up to build mountains and hills.  Can you believe that?  I’ll tell you about a specific one.


What makes this environment special or different? In Beijing, there is a World Heritage Site (historical site protected by the entire world) called The Summer Palace.  The Summer Palace is where a famous empress, Empress Ci Xi, liked to spend her summers.  But she was really envious of a famous lake in Hangzhou called the West Lake.  As she ruled so many workers, she had them dig a replica of the West Lake at the Summer Palace.  As they were digging, she had them put all their dirt in the same place.  As the lake got bigger and deeper, the mountain got taller and wider.  When the lake was complete, the mountain had grown quite large. The Empress then had the people build a smaller palace on top of the mountain they had just made.  It is really beautiful and amazing.  I wonder how long it took the workers to walk to the top of the mountain to dump their dirt out?


What parts of this environment help people to live here? China has something unique: solar-powered water heaters.  Energy is a big concern for any country, and China has a lot of people.  It is really common is to see solar-powered water heaters all over on the rooftops.  This is really beneficial for the people who live on the top levels of a building, but it’s not really helpful for people who live on the lower floors.  Our Mama and Baba live on the ground floor of their apartment building, and have to relay on a normal electric water heater that uses up a lot of energy.  But the people living on the sixth floor have solar-powered water heaters on top of the building to save energy costs.


What challenges do people face living in this environment? The occurrence of dust storms is something really interesting that started happening in Beijing over the past few years. The wind blowing from the deserts in the west was not a bother for thousands of years.  But now that all the trees have been cut down, the wind blows the sand and dirt from the deserts all the way to Beijing.  It’s several hundred miles, but there is nothing to stop it anymore.


How have people been adapting to this environment? Since realizing this, the government has begun planting many more trees where the old, big forests used to be.  The new forests won’t ever be natural again, because all the tiny animals and different plants that needed the forests can’t be replaced exactly. But it is good that the government realized how important the forests were, and now try to replace the forests as well as possible.


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