前不久，受当地政府委托，我对乌江两岸的景观进行了规划设计。带着自幼就在心中孕育的对乌江神秘而美丽的图景的无限向往，我和设计团队奔赴乌江。但眼前所见的情景，却让我感到无比 失望和沮丧：这条有着无数故事和传说——或凄楚动人，或激情豪迈——的激流天险，竟然被改造成了一条水泥渠道：高达几十米的防洪堤削平了两岸犬牙交错的岩石；光滑的水泥荒漠替代了茂密的植被和千万生命的栖息地。唏嘘之余，便是对这种人类暴行和无知无德的愤怒和悲哀。近十座建成或在建的水电站、不断延伸的防洪堤工程，正在“基础设施建设”的名义下，将一条中国大地上非常 重要的生态廊道捆绑、肢解。这条为中国广大城市和乡村提供过源 源不断的生态服务的自然“基础设施”，正走向死亡！而遭受着同样命运的中国名川大河，又岂止乌江！毁灭性的灾难已经或正在降临到大渡河、金沙江、澜沧江、闽江、湘江，甚至黄河、长江等无数条孕育了中华文明的千百年不绝的生命之流。
为了防洪？北京大学的研究团队揭示，即使将全中国的防洪堤 都拆掉，中国可能淹没的国土面积仅占国土总面积的2.8%；而为了保护这2.8%，我们每年投入近千亿元人民币来修建所谓的防洪工程！千百年来，我们不断地将全国人民艰辛劳动所创造的价值，年复一年地付之东流，这难道不值得每个当代中国公民，特别是决策 者反思吗？如果说在农业时代，这2.8%的土地事关千百万人的生计和生命，是因为中国在20世纪初国民生产总值的90%甚至更多都来自于农业，每平方米土地的得失都事关当地人民的兴衰。但今天不再是这样了，农业对这个国家经济的贡献已下降至不足10%，我们完全不必与洪水争地。更何况，天下本无洪水，洪水是不明智的规划和建设所导致的结果。
Landscape as Ecological Infrastructure
Not long ago, I was entrusted by the local government to plan and design a new landscape along the Wujiang River,Since I was a kid, I had looked forward to visiting the mysterious and beautifulWujiang River.With high expectations, my design team and I set off for theriver, But when we arrived, what I saw disappointed and frustrated me.The river,a place of innumerable stories and legends,should have been a torrentialand dangerous landscape,witnessing sorrowful and pitiful,orpassionateand bold history. Instead, it had been reconstructed into a cemented channel, and flood protection embankments, dozens of meters high,had cut flat thezigzag rocks on both banks. The smooth cement desert of engineering had replaced lush vegetation and crucial habitat for wildlife, I felt angry and sad about theatrocity,ignorance and viciousness of human beings.A dozen hydropower stations that had been completed or were under construction,together with the expanding flood control embankments,had succeeded in tying up and strangling ecological corridors of crucial importance all in the name of "infrastructure developrnent",While the natural "infrastructure"that had once provided continuing ecological services for large urban and rural areas in China was walking toward itsdeathl Wujiang River is not at all alone!Other large rivers in China are suffering the same fate. Devastating disaster has befallen,or is befalling the Dalu River,Jinsha River,Lancang River, Minjiang River,and Xiangjiang River,as well as the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, waterways that have nurtured Chinese civilization for thousands of years.
If "infrastructure" is the physical support for social production and householdlife,whichisrequiredfora society to survive and develop,then why can not we keep the natural,free-of-charge,and living "infrastructure" that has functioned for thousands of years,instead destroying it while simultaneously constructing mechanical and grey "infiastructure"at a huge cost,that in the end supplies the same service?
For flood control? A research team from Peking University found that, even if China were to remove all floodembankments,only 2,8% of the country might be flooded.To protect this 2.8%of land,we have inve sted almost RMB 100 billion annually in so-called floodcontrel projects! What has worked for thousands of years, we are wasting. Year after year China has generated huge wealth through hard work,Isn't this worth reflection by every Chinese citizen and decision-makers in particular? In the agricultural era, 2.8% of national land supported agricultural livelihoods and the lives of tens of millions of people. In the early 20th century, at least 90% China’s GDP was from agriculture, and the production of each square meter of land was directly linked to the living standards of local people. This is no longer the case. Agriculture now contributes to less than 10% of China’s economy. We do not need to fight the floods for agricultural lands. The fact is, the flooding we now experience is the result of irrational planning and construction.
For power generation?Hydropower makes up only 15% of total power generation in China. In order to produce hydropower, we have destroyed, on a national scale,the most crucial "infrastructure"ecosystem of the world--the water and river system,and even thewhole water system. Ironically, in order to get water, we designed the South-to-North Water Diversion Project,which with 13 cascade pumping stations and atotal lift head of 65 meters diverts water from Yangtze River basin to Yellow River basin. How much power is needed to maintain the daily operation of suchhuge, national-scale infrastructure?
For addressing the water shortage in Northem China? People might not know that each year four billion cubic meters of rainwater is discharged into the sea from Beijing alone,while eachyear the South-to-North Water Diversion Project transfers only three billion cubic meters of water to Beijing.Each year, as summer tums into autumn,there is afear of flood disasters in almost all cities in China.To deal with the volume of raining and flooding,our cities make huge investments to build large drainage pipelines and pumping station shoping to drain every drop of rain in the blink ofan eye. If we could keep all the rainwater in Beijing,or even three quarters of thewater,then there would be no need to transfer water from the south to the north. As huge, impenetrable infrastructure, the South-to-North Water Diversion Project has caused damage to natural and human processes,including damages to the urban and rural watcr system, cultural heritage,and tourist and community networks. It would be impossible to measure the ecological,social,cultural, and economic costs with simple numbers.
For addressing urban waterlogging?For thousands of years, our ancestors have gleaned rich lessons from the failtres and successes of adapting to rain and waterlogging through ecological infrastructure adapted to local climates.For example,the mulberry fishponds of thePearl River Delta,the water network south of Yangtze River, small ponds in mountainous areas of southwest China. and ponding marshes in northem China are reminders of ecological infrastructure from ancient China.These landscapes have provided the best ecological services for generations,including food and cleanwater supply, rainfall flood regulation and storage,drought relief,disaster prevention,and life preservation,in the context of poetic and picturesque scenery. Nevertheless, our cities, consciously or unconsciously,ignore this type ofecological "infrastructure"but instead maneuver the pen of planning,produce mandatory legal documents,and advocate for machinery that moves mountains and empties the seas.Modern planning flattens the land,turns sites into pieces of blank paper,and lays out generic,grey "infrastructure",It buildswide,broadroadsandcontrolled networks of water supply,power supply,and sewage pipes.Systematic,free ecological infrastructure is replacedwith a set of static infrastructure that provides a single function and costs afortune.The results are right before our cyes: cities lose their resilience when faced with the extremes of natural processes.
For water pollution treatment? Our fore fathers cherished human waste, collecting it as the best fertilizer for crops.Such agricultural treasures are treated by city-dwellers as wastewater and garbage,dischrgedthroughsewersinto rivers and lakes, polluting waterways itstead of fertilizing hungry farmlands. At the same time,farmers stopped making use of free organic fertilizers,and in order to maintain crop yields, turned to expensive inorganic fertilizers produced in factories that emit blacktoxic smoke and discharge poisonous sewage water: On the other side, in cities,engineers invented sewage treatment plants,Supported by large amounts of eleetricity and connected by innumerable pipes,these expensive machines are devoted to removing nutrients in sewage, often ignoring that their power sourceemits black smoke and kills living rivers, Such infrastructure cuts short the naturalcirculation of materials and metabolic systems, only to send water, soil and air pollutions into an unnecessary and redundant circle.
For providing transport service?Webuild highways so that cars can move faster. We close the entrances and exits along these roads and construct isolation belts at the center to ensure that the highways-the backbones of infrastructure -are continuous and unobstructed.We are unaware however, that such actions have damaged another transportation network that was denser and more efficient, a transport means that is safer and greener: the pedestrian and bicycle system.
Please do not get me wrong.I am not advocating removal of cars,nor am I denying the technology that supports modem human civilizations.I am calling for a new type of infrastructure that is wiser,more sophisticated,and able to systematically integrate natural and human processes.I am calling for an ecological infrastructure that takes landscape as the infrastructure to systematically address the diseases ofcontemporary cities,to address regional and local flooding, drought and water shortage, water and soil pollution, alienation from nature,dullness of environmentalexperience,andlackof cultural identity.An ecologicalized infrastructure will bring us a new picture of cities:a poetic,picturesque,and resilient place that is fertile and resources-efficient,based on natural systems,richin delicate human creations,and free of the turmoil of the world. This new typeofinfrastructurewouldbringusanew low-carbon,healthful,andecological life. Such infrastructure will help us in creating new cultures and guide us towards a new civilization-an ecological civilization.