Honor Essay

April 14, 2011

 

THI XUAN HIEU NGO

Vesalius College – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Honor Essay HON393E

9,330 words

Adviser Luc Hens

25 January 2010

 

TRADE LIBERALIZATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN VIETNAM

Abstract

Vietnam’s integration with the international economy through trade openness has increased real GDP growth rates, reduced poverty rate significantly, and had important implications for the environment and use of natural resources. This study aims at examining the degree to which the composition of Vietnam’s manufacturing, export, and import output has shifted towards clean or dirty sectors. The analysis is carried out by aggregating toxic releases per unit of output by media for overall manufacturing output in 1990-2008 and exports and imports in 2004-2008. The results suggest increasing manufacturing and export activity in the toxic land and air pollution intensive sectors compared to the less pollution-intensive sectors. In contrast, imports have been relatively cleaner, especially in water and land clean intensive sectors. The story is, on the surface, consistent with the changing composition of Vietnamese production, exports, and imports. The paper also highlights the need to find the best way to strengthen environmental policies while boosting trade liberalization further for Vietnam if practical, or the optimal trade-related and environmental policies separately which weight benefits and costs associated with them. (EconLit F180)

 

I. Introduction

Vietnam’s economic growth in the past decade has been fueled by trade openness, to a large extent, by bilateral and multilateral trade agreements such as the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, the United States-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, and the World Trade Organisation. This has increased real GDP growth rates and reduced poverty rate significantly. However, there are some concerns about the environmental effects as whether trade has deteriorated or improved the environmental quality because trade can lead to changes in a country’s natural resources and industrial structure either towards cleaner or dirtier sectors through various mechanisms. In fact, debates among trade supporters and environmentalists have never been as intense as now, especially about fast developing world, because of the possible trade-off between development and environment. Supporting arguments from two sides cannot be solid without evidence from empirical results. As Vietnam is one of the most fast growing economies in the world, it is impossible to exclude empirical studies for Vietnam when it comes to studying issues pertaining to trade and environment for developing countries. The primary objective of this study is to examine the degree to which the composition of Vietnam’s manufacturing, export, and import output has shifted towards clean or dirty sectors. The results suggest increasing manufacturing and export activity in the toxic land and air pollution intensive sectors compared to the less pollution-intensive sectors. In contrast, imports have been relatively cleaner, especially in water and land clean intensive sectors. The story is, on the surface, consistent the changing composition of Vietnamese production and exports away from traditional sectors and towards pollution-intensive manufacturing (especially chemicals, leather, and textiles) while imports towards meat, beverages, spirits, works of art, and antiques. The paper also highlights the need to find the best way to strengthening environmental policies while boosting trade liberalization further if possible, or the optimal trade-related and environmental policies separately which weight benefits and cost associated with them.

The methodology used in this paper is to aggregate toxic releases per unit of output by media for overall manufacturing output in 1990-2008 and exports and imports in 2004-2008; then compare evolution of toxic releases over the timelines with those of manufacturing output, exports and imports. Although this approach lacks theoretical rigor and mathematical intricacy like in other modeling methods, it is straightforward, transparent, and appropriate for undergraduate level.

The next section of this paper briefly presents an overview of trade and environment theory. Section III reviews relevant literature, followed by an overview of Vietnam’s trade policies and trade patterns in Section IV and environmental policies and the current environmental state in Section V. I present my analysis of Vietnam’s trade effects on environment in Section V, and give recommendation in Section VI. In Section VII, I conclude the paper, discuss some limitations of the paper and give suggestion for further researches.

II. Overview of Trade and Environment Theory

Interest in the links between trade and environment has increased greatly in the past decades due to increasing concerns over global warming, species extinction, and industrial pollution. There have been many heated debates among environmentalists and the trade policy community, for instance between the industrial North American Free Trade and developing South over the effects of trade liberalization on environmental quality. The debates have intensified with the creation of the World Trade Organization and that of the Doha Development Round. According to Copeland and Taylor (2004), these debates have often been unproductive due to significant differences in both parties’ trust of market forces and perception of environmental values (p. 7). Environmentalists fear a race-to-bottom whereby a government lowers environmental standards to compete in the world market, which will lead to environmental degradation (Esty, 1996, p. 36). The race-to-bottom story corresponds to pollution havens hypothesis, that is, lower environmental standards will promote pollution-intensive industry from countries with stringent environmental regulations to migrate to countries with weaker regulations (Esty, 1996, p. 34). In contrast, proponents of free trade fear that environmental tariffs are disguised protection for domestic firms. There have been cases where environmental regulations were used as non-tariff barriers, such as lobster case between Canada and the US or the tuna/dolphin case between Mexico and the US (Trebilcock and Howse, 1999, p. 388 & 393).

Both parties seem to agree that trade openness will lead to economic growth and rising income through gains from trade, that is, comparative advantage whereby two nations can trade to their mutual advantage even when one of these two nations is more efficient than the other at producing everything, and specialization and economies of scale through intra-industry trade whereby nations trade differentiated products in the same industry (Batabyal & Beladi, 2007, p. 1). However, they disagree about the effect on environmental quality. For example, environmentalists fear that if the nature of an economic activity is unchanged, increasing domestic production and consumption, due to rising foreign demand and domestic income as a result of trade openness and gains from trade, will lead to larger inputs of energy, natural resources, and materials. Increasing production and consumption will also result in more waste by-products, accumulation of waste, and concentration of pollutants which will degrade environmental quality and reduce human welfare, despite rising incomes (Panayotou, 2003, p. 1). In contrast, trade supporters argue that rising income due to the gains from trade can lead to higher demand for cleaner goods and thus stricter environmental regulations (Kellenberg, 2008, p. 1). This is shown in a comparison between the richer industrial North which has cleaner environment versus the developing South which as dirtier environment (Pearson, 2000, p. 5).

However, many empirical studies have concluded that there is no fixed relationship, whether it is positive or negative, between economic growth and environmental quality along a country’s development path. The relationship depends on what level of income at which people demand and afford more efficient infrastructure and a cleaner environment. These results correspond to the implied inverted-U relationship between environmental degradation and economic growth known as the environmental Kuznets curve. According to the environmental Kuznets curve (figure 1), at low levels of development, the degree of environmental degradation is quite low, mainly due to limited quantities of biodegradable wastes as a result of subsistence resources-based economic activities. During the economic boom at the middle-stage of development, intensive extraction of resources and industrializing process will accelerate resource depletion and waste generation. At higher levels of development, the economy’s structure will change towards information-based industries and services, more efficient technologies, and thus increased demand for environmental quality. As a result, the degree of environmental degradation starts to level-off and declines (Panayotou, 2003, p. 1-2). According to empirical studies cited by Esty (2001, p. 3), the middle-income levels at which nations’ environmental degradation starts to decline are approximately at of $5000-8000 GDP per capita. Since Vietnam’s real GDP per capita in 2008 is $2,800 according to Central Intelligence Agency (2008), we may expect that trade may have negative effects on the country’s environment.

Figure 1. The environmental Kuznets curve: a development-environment relationship. Note. The graph is Panayotou (2003, p. 1).

Industrialization resulting from trade openness is thought to affect environmental pollution via three mechanisms: a scale effect, a technology/ process effect, and a composition effect. The scale effect means that as an economy grows, there will be higher volume of industrial production and increasing use of inputs of energy and materials; one may expect more pollution as a result. The technology/ process effect refers to whether machines with high pollution abatement ability, environmental practices, and clean technologies are used in production within firms and industries. Clearly, more fuel-efficient equipment and cleaner technologies, along with a focus on environmental practices tend to lead to less pollution. Finally, the composition effect refers to how the weight of various industries within the industrial sector in a country impacts the level of pollution. Clearly, a country that has a heavy share of industrial chemicals or plastics and man-made fibers tends to have more pollution than one that has a heavy share of wearing apparel or bakery products (Adger, 2001, p. 197).

The composition effect can be explained by trade theories, more precisely the Ricardian and Heckscher-Ohlin models. The Ricardian model says that countries tend to specialize in the production and exports of goods they produce relatively efficiently. In the Heckscher-Ohlin model, countries tend to specialize in the production and exports of goods that use intensively the factor of production with which they are relatively well endowed (Krugman & Obstfeld, 2009, p. 29 & 64). Because environment provides firms with services, it can be viewed as a production factor that provides natural resources or waste absorption. In this sense, environment is an input to production function (Pearson, 2000, p. 175). Because environment has value, the use of its service has a cost. However, not all products’ selling price takes into account the environmental cost because the environmental cost is external cost. As a result, some products are priced well below social cost (the sum of private cost and pollution abatement cost) (Perloff, 2008, p. 602). This means that countries that pay less attention to environmental protection (usually developing countries) may have comparative advantage in producing products which are pollution- intensive while countries which have strict environmental regulations (usually industrialized countries) may have comparative disadvantage in producing products which are pollution- intensive, if other things are equal (Pearson, 2000, p. 188). In fact, if one views the lack of environmental regulations as a peculiar form of export subsidy, producers who obtain hidden subsidies in terms of low pollution abatement can dump their products in international markets at prices that do not reflect the true cost of production. This is the phenomenon of ecological dumping (Rauscher, 2007, p. 67).

III. Literature Overview

There has been growing literature on the effects of international trade patterns on the composition of industries in developing countries. The methodologies employed to test this relationship are widely varied; so are the results. World Bank researchers Patrick Low and Alexander Yeats (1992) used revealed comparative advantage model, defined as the share of an industry in a country’s total exports relative to the industry’s share of total world exports of manufactures, to test whether developing countries among 109 countries examined gained a comparative advantage in pollution-intensive products during the period 1965-1988. They found decreases in dirty industry in the developed world and increases in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and West Asia.

Similarly, Mani and Wheeler (1998) also found that pollution intensive output as a percentage of total manufacturing fell in the OECD and rose steadily in the developing world as a whole from 1960 to 1995. However, the reason for increasing pollution intensive output in the developing was not due to lax environmental regulations but the low-income (Mani and Wheeler, 1998, p. 244).

Like Low and Yeats (1992), Abimanyu (1996) used revealed comparative advantage model on trade between the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Like Mani and Wheeler (1998), Abimanyu also found that dirty industry expansion was faster in developing countries, but differences in environmental standards between developing and developed countries were not a significant cause of the movement of dirty industries into developing countries.

Another World Bank team, Lucas, Wheeler, and Hettige (1992), analyzed aggregate toxic releases per unit of output for 80 countries between 1960 and 1988 and found that the toxic-intensive industries grew faster in the developing countries as a whole, but this growth mainly took place in relatively closed, fast growing economies, rather than in the countries that were most open to trade. However, this result was criticized by Michael Rock (1996) for their classification of dirty industries and their narrow definition of openness. Unlike the result found by Lucas at al., Rock found that the more open the trade policy, the greater the pollution intensity.

The effects of trade and environmental policies on trade growth and environmental quality also have attracted strong interest from many scholars. Tobey (1990) tested whether environmental policy affected the patterns of trade in commodities produced by dirty industries for 23 nations in 1977. Tobey regressed net exports of each country’s dirty industries on their factor inputs (land, labor, capital, and natural resources) and on environmental stringency. The result showed that environmental stringency was not a statistically significant determinant of net exports.

Lee and Roland-Holst (2007, p. 289) examined the effects of coordinated trade and environmental policies for Indonesia by using a two-country computable general equilibrium model of Indonesia and Japan. They found that unilateral liberalization by Indonesia will increase virtually all industrial pollutants. They also found that uniform combining with trade liberalization could reduce industrial pollution and maintain or even increase welfare. The study suggested that there needs not be a trade off between welfare enhancement and environmental quality.

IV. Overview of Vietnam’s trade policies and trade patterns

Before going to the analysis of examine the degree to which the composition of Vietnam’s manufacturing, export, and import output has shifted towards clean or dirty sectors, it is important to overview Vietnam’s trade policies and trade patterns for the past decades. The trade policy regime in Vietnam has undergone significant changes since the Doi Moi (reform) policy in 1986. The purpose of Doi Moi was to gradually replace the centrally-planned economy with a socialist-oriented market economy, and to replace import-substituting policy in a long-standing protectionist, state-led trade regime with economic openness and international integration. However, trade policies under the reforms were still ambiguous as they attempted to promote export-oriented industries while preserving the protective trade regime at the same time. The year 1992 witnessed some important changes in trade policies: a detailed, consolidated schedule based on the Harmonised System of tariff nomenclature replaced the Law on Import and Export Duties introduced on 1 January 1988. The tariff structure based on the Harmonised System was designed to protect selective consumer goods (cosmetics and some categories of food products), upstream activities related to textiles and garments (silk, cotton, and certain fibres) and some intermediate goods (metal products, cements and glass) (Athukorala, 2006, p. 1, 3, & 4). The tariff structure was further modified due to Vietnam’s trade agreements and trade memberships: an economic and trade cooperation agreement with the European Union (EU) in 1992, membership of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 1996, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 1998, a bilateral trade agreement with the United States in 2000, and membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January 2007 (Harris, Robertson, & Wong, 2007, p. 14).

Under the AFTA agreement, Vietnam would reduce its tariff to 0-5 percent by 2003. In addition, Vietnam committed to reduce tariff rates for sensitive and high sensitive agricultural products to 0-5 percent by 2013 according to the Protocol on a special agreement signed in 1999 (mainly poultry and swine products, coffee, tea, copra, manioc and rice). Concerning goods excluded from the tariff reduction agreements which are of key industries, Vietnam will have to introduce the 5 percent tariff cap on them only in 2010 (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2003, p. 3).

Effective rate of protection decreased substantially between 1997 and 2003 (table 1). In all traded sectors, effective rate of protection reduced by 19 percent from 72 percent in 1997 to 58 percent in 2001, and then by more than 50 percent to 25 percent in 2003. While effective rate of protection in agriculture increased by 62 percent from 7.74 percent in 1997 to 12.52 percent in 2003, it dropped by a similar amount from 121 percent to 44 percent in the same years in manufacturing. This implies that there was an increase in the output tariff in agriculture but an increase in the input tariff in manufacturing. Because effective rate of protection in manufacturing was much higher than in agriculture, we can say that the tariff structure in Vietnam had a clear bias against agriculture and in favor of manufacturing.

1997 2001 2003
Agriculture 7.74 7.43 12.52
Mining 6.05 16.39 -0.03
Manufacturing 121.47 95.97 43.94
Total tradables 72.22 58.46 24.87
Simple Average 59.54 54.1 26.23

Table 1. Effective rate of protection (percent) in Vietnam, 1997-2003. Note. The data are from General Office Statistics, Hanoi cited in Athukorala (2006, p. 39).

Under WTO membership, Vietnam is committed to reduce its overall 2006 most-favoured-nation rates of 17.3 percent to the WTO final bound rate (applied in 2019) of 13.4 percent on simple average (table 2). The bound rate is the maximum rate of tariff which is allowed to a member state for imports from another member state (“bound tariff rate”). Non-agricultural products face higher rate cuts than agricultural products (by 25 percent versus 16 percent). Among non-agricultural products, textiles and clothing sector faces the most significant rate cut by 63 percent from 36.4 percent to 13.5 percent upon accession. Footwear also experiences a huge rate cut by 38 percent upon accession (table 1). These two sectors also face the removal of subsidies. However, their import duties on textile raw materials are reduced from 40−50 percent to 10−15 percent (International Monetary Fund, 2007a, p. 4). The number of most-favored-nation tariff lines also fell by 6 percent from 11,088 in 2006 to 10,444 in 2007 and in expected to remain at least constant by 2019. Most-favored-nation tariffs refer to a level of tariffs given to one country by another and enforced by the World Trade Organization. In addition, Vietnam was asked to abolish quotas, bans, and other restrictions upon accession, including import bans on cigarettes, cigars, and used vehicles (International Monetary Fund, 2007a, p. 8).

  2006 MFN rates WTO 2007 Bound rates WTO final bound rate WTO implement-ation
Simple average 17.3 17.2 13.4 up to 12 years
Agricultural products 25.7 27.3 21.7 up to 5 years
Nonagricultural products 16.3 15.8 12.2 up to 12 years
Steel 7.7 17.7 13 up to 7 years
Textiles and clothing 36.4 13.6 13.5 upon accession
Footwear 43.9 35.8 27.2 upon accession
Cars and other motor vehicles 55.5 84.8 58.7 up to 12 years
Most new cars 90 100 70 up to 7 years
Motorbikes 90 100 74.3 up to 12 years
Machinery/Electrical 8.2 10.8 8.1 up to 5 years
Agricultural products 100 100–150 85–135 NA
Nonagricultural products 90–100 100 75–100 NA
Number of lines 11,088 10,444 10,444 NA


Table 2. Most-Favored-Nation Rates and Bound-Rates (percent) in Vietnam, 2006-2007. Note. The data are from International Monetary Fund (2007a, p. 4).

How has trade policy affected Vietnam’s economy openness over time? Figure 2 shows trade openness (total trade in percent of nominal GDP) in Vietnam from 1990 to 2008. Overall, trade doubled from 80 percent in 1990 to almost 160 percent of GDP in 2008. Trade experienced a huge decline from 80 percent in 1990 to just above 50 percent of GDP in 1993 probably due to the ambivalence of trade policies before the Harmonised System introduced in 1992. However, trade picked up remarkably afterward to reach just below 160 percent in 2008 mainly due to trade agreements signed with other parties.

Figure 2. Trade openness in Vietnam, 1990-2008. Note. Trade openness is exports plus imports in percent of nominal GDP. The data are from International Monetary Fund’s Directions of Trade Statistics and World Economic Outlook database cited in Integration Indicators Database of Asia Regional Integration Center (2008).

Figure 3 shows Vietnam’s export market share in the world (Vietnam’s exports as percentage of the world’s imports) from 1990 to 2008. Along with doubling trade openness, Vietnam’s export market share increased almost nine fold from 0.04 percent in 1990 to 0.38 percent in 2008. This suggests that Vietnam’s export is competitive in world markets.

Figure 3. Export market share in Vietnam, 1990-2008. Note. Export market share is Vietnam’s exports as percentage of the world’s imports. The data are from International Monetary Fund’s Directions of Trade Statistics and World Economic Outlook database cited in Integration Indicators Database of Asia Regional Integration Center (2008).

Figure 4 shows foreign direct investment (FDI) openness (total FDI in percent of nominal GDP) in Vietnam from 1994 to 2005. Overall, FDI more than doubled from 25.4 percent in 1990 to 58.9 percent in 2005. In the period of 1990-1993, when trade experienced a huge decline, FDI openness remained stable at approximately 25 percent. This reinforces the ambivalence of trade policies before the Harmonised System. However, FDI soared almost threefold to 74.3 percent in 2002 and declined again to 59 percent in 2005, possibly due to increasing competition for FDI inflows from other developing countries such as China and India or worldwide FDI flows dropped.

Figure 4. Foreign direct investment openness in Vietnam, 1990-2005. Note. FDI openness is the inward FDI stock of a country expressed as a percentage of nominal GDP in dollars. The data are from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development FDI Online cited in Integration Indicators Database of Asia Regional Integration Center (2008).

Along with increasing openness is the relatively high real GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent on average from 1992 to 2006 as shown in figure 5. Although growth declined by more than half to 3.5 percent in 1997-1998 due to the Asian economic crisis, it quickly recovered afterwards to reach 8.2 percent in 2006.

Figure 5. Real GDP growth rates in Vietnam, 1992-2006. Note. The data are from General Statistics Office (Hanoi) and International Monetary Fund staff estimates cited in I International Monetary Fund ‘s Vietnam: Statistical Appendix (1999, 2003, 2006, & 2007b).

Poverty has also reduced substantially. The poverty rate is defined as the percentage of population living under the poverty line, defined as the cost of a basket allowing a daily intake of 2,100 calories per person per day. According to the World Bank (2008), the poverty rate declined by 42 percent from 58 percent in 1993 to 16 percent in 2006 (The World Bank, 2008, p. 4).

The composition of Vietnam’s exports and imports has changed significantly during the trade liberalization period of 1995-2006. Figure 6 shows that Vietnam exported more both light and heavy industrial products and less agricultural, forest, and aquatic products. The biggest increase was in light industrial and handicraft products (by 57 percent from 28 percent in 1995 to 45 percent in 2007).  Exports of heavy industrial products and minerals also increased remarkably despite more moderately (by 30 percent from 25 percent to 33 percent in the same period). In contrast, exports of forest products experienced the biggest decline by 71 percent from 2.8 percent in 1995 to 0.8 percent in 2006. In the same token, agricultural and aquatic exports contracted by 58 percent and 26 percent from 32 percent and 11 percent in 1995 to 13 percent and 8 percent in 2006.

Figure 6. Exports of goods by commodity group in Vietnam (percent), 1995-2006. Note. The data are from General Statistics Office (2007a).

The export structure by commodities in 2006 in figure 7 showed that crude oils, garments, and footwear were Vietnam’s most important export commodities, accounting for half of total exports in 2006 (22 percent for crude oils, 15 percent for garments, and 13 percent for footwear).  Furniture, marine products, and electrical equipment held the same export share of 6 percent. Boilers (machinery) and coffee (tea and spices) were also important; each accounted for 4 percent. Cereals, rubber, and handicraft each held 2 percent.

Figure 7. Export Structure in Vietnam (percent), 2006. Note. The data are from International Trade Center (2008).

As shown in figure 8, Vietnam’s main imports were fuels, raw material, machinery, instrument, and accessories from 1995 to 2007, accounting for approximately 80 percent of all imports on average. These imports increased by 13 percent from 75 percent in 1995 to 85 percent in 2007. Imports of pharmaceutical, medicinal products were smaller, accounting for roughly 10 percent on average.

Figure 8. Imports of goods by commodity group in Vietnam (percent), 1995-2007. Note. The data are from General Statistics Office Hanoi (2007b).

Vietnam’s export destinations changed between 1995 and 2005. As shown in table 3, Japan had the highest Vietnam’s export share of 27 percent whereas exports to ASEAN and EU were smaller (18 percent and 12 percent) in 1995. Exports to China and the USA were relatively low (7 percent and 3 percent). However, in 2005, export share to the USA increased almost fivefold; the USA received 18 percent of Vietnam’s total merchandise exports and became Vietnam’s biggest export destination. This was mainly due to the Vietnam and US bilateral trade agreement signed in 2000. Exports to China and EU also increased significantly by 50 percent and 40 percent to 10 percent and 17 percent respectively in 2005. This was most likely due to ASEAN-China free trade agreement signed in 2002 and the EU-Vietnam bilateral agreement on WTO accession in 2004. ASEAN and Japan remain important destinations for Vietnam’s exports despite declining export shares (Thoburn, 2009, p. 6).

V. Overview of Environmental Policies and the Current Environmental State

Another important impact of trade openness is increasing pressure placed on the environment such as external pollution from imports of refused equipment, backward technology, and low quality products, depletion of natural resources due to exports of natural resource-based products, and development of services associated with potential environmental pollution such as fresh markets, restaurant system, and transportation services (Vietnam Environment Protection Agency, 2005, p. 12). Recognizing potential threats created by the trade liberalization and industrialization on the environment, the government of Vietnam has placed greater emphasis on environment management by imposing some important environmental management instruments. For example, the National Plan for Environment and Sustainable Development was approved in 1991, providing the gradual development of a comprehensive framework for environmental planning and management and proposing specific actions to address priority areas. In 1994, the Law on Environmental Protection was enacted, giving the general provision and measures to prevent and remedy environmental pollution and degradation, calling for international collaboration, and making provisions for implementing and dealing with violation of the law. In 1995, the National Plan for Environment and Sustainable Development was replaced by the more specific National Environmental Action Plan, addressing the growing industrial development and urbanization in Vietnam in 1995 (Phuong, 1996). The government has also increased spending on the environment from domestic resources to 1% of the State annual expenditure total as from 2007, equivalent to USD 193 million a year (Bass et al., 2009, p. 10). On the international side, Vietnam ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1993 and approved the Biodiversity Action Plan in 1995 (Phuong, 1996). However, due to unclear and overlapping institutional jurisdictions, weak interagency cooperation, and capacity limitations among government institutions, implementation of legislations is usually limited (The World Bank, 2005, p. 50).

Vietnam has also paid attention to promoting environment-oriented taxation measures such as tax reduction for imports and installation of clean technology, extraction taxes on forest and mineral resources, subsidy removal for chemical fertilizers. The government has also created environmental funds such as funds for reforestation, funds for coal mining and oil spill contingency, and a National Environmental (Reserve) Fund. Penalties for violations against environmental law and regulations have also been imposed; but their implementation has still been limited due to the problem of defining property rights for long-term and sustainable use of the environment and natural resources (The Greater Mekong Subregion Environment Operations Center, 2009, p. 47).

The current state of the environment in Vietnam under the government’s environmental policies can be assessed by biodiversity, water, air, and land environment in urban, industrial, and rural areas. In general, environmental degradation and pollution have been increasing mainly due to economic activities and the lack of controls. Although forest cover is increasing due to Vietnam’s establishment of protected areas system, natural forests are increasingly fragmented and degraded. According to the World Bank (2005, p. 3), over two-thirds of Vietnam’s natural forests are considered poor or regenerating. This has resulted in growing desertification and land impoverishment, rapid conversion of wetlands, and coral reef degradation.

Pollution of surface and inland water, particularly in river basins, small rivers, and canals in urban areas, has been increasingly serious due to overexploitation from rapid population growth, industrialization, and urbanization, and lack of waste water treatment. According to Vietnam Environment Protection Agency (2005), industrial waste water accounted for approximately a third of total waste water; and more than 95 percent of total industrial waster water was discharged to environment without prior treatment. As a result, high levels of BOD5, NNH4+, total suspended solid, heavy metal, coliforms, pesticide chemicals in polluted surface water doubled or tripled permitted national standards (p. 15-17). Marine water in concentrated residential areas, industrial factories and sea port exits is also highly polluted by suspended solids, NO2, NO3, coliforms, oil and zinc due to increasing fishery, aquaculture, water transportation, oil spill accidents, mineral resource exploitation, and tourism in coastal resorts (p. 21-22).

Air pollution in urban areas and focal economic regions has also been increasing mainly due to industrial and handicraft activities, transportation, and urban infrastructure development. The air quality is mainly polluted by dust, CO, SO2, NO2, and lead. Dust pollution was the highest element in air pollution in 2001-2004, far exceeding permitted standards. It was highly concentrated in construction sites in urban areas (from 10 to 20 times higher than permitted standards), road junctions and big cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi (from 2 to 3 times higher than permitted standards). Unlike dust pollution, the levels of SO2, CO, NO2, and lead pollution in urban and industrial air in general remained below permitted standards, mainly generated by industrial and handicraft activities, and transport vehicles. Air quality in rural areas in general also remained below permitted standards, except in some craft villages (Vietnam Environment Protection Agency, 2005, p. 26-27). Along with growing water and air pollution, land and soil environment has also been increasingly polluted, mainly by chemical fertilizers and repellents such as insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides for agricultural cultivation. Although the amount of chemical fertilizers in use was relatively much lower than other countries (5 times lower) (table 3), the lack of technical proper use and imbalanced use biasing toward nitrogenous fertilizers posed pressure on agricultural and rural environment. It was estimated that 50 percent of nitrogenous, 50 percent of potassium, and 80 percent of phosphate fertilizers remained in the soil. This pressure was even further elevated due to fast growing chemical fertilizers and repellents used throughout Vietnam. For example, the amount of total chemical fertilizers (N, P2O5, and K2O) increased by almost twelve times from approximately 211,000 tons in 2000 to 2,530,000 tons in 2003, mainly used for rice, vegetables, long term industrial trees, and fruit trees (Vietnam Environment Protection Agency, 2005, p. 28-29).

Nations Average amount of pesticides used per ha (kg/ha)
Vietnam 85
Japan 430
Korea 467
China 390

Table 3. Average amount of pesticides used per ha by countries. Note. The data are from Agriculture Publishing House (2001) quoted by Vietnam Environment Protection Agency (2005, p. 29).

VI. Analysis of Trade Effects on Environment

Of the three effects of trade openness on environmental pollution mentioned above in part II, the scale effect is a straightforward consequence of economic growth while the technique effect is related to technology transfer. However, due to the limited scope of this paper, these two effects will not be pursued here. The paper will focus on the effect of trade on the composition of industries. Given Vietnam’s comparative advantage in labor-intensive goods and relatively laxer environmental regulations compared to its main trading partners (such as Japan and EU), one may suspect that as Vietnam may be specializing in pollution- intensive industries, thus leading to dirtier environments as it continues to expand its international trade.

One difficulty I encountered is that there is no data on Vietnam’s industrial pollution. Fortunately, the World Bank’s Industrial Pollution Projection System has been designed to help interested parties address this problem. The IPPS has been designed to convert available information on employment, value added, or output to a profile of associated pollutant output for countries and operates through sectoral estimates of pollution intensity or pollution per unit of activity (The World Bank, 1995, p. E-1). Although the prototype system has been developed from a US environmental and economic database, it can be applied to other countries to some extent because the pattern of sectoral intensity rankings may be similar. For example, wood pulping will be more water pollution intensive than apparel manufacture in every country. Therefore, the present version of Industrial Pollution Projection System can be useful as a guide to probable pollution problems, even if exact estimates are not possible (The World Bank, 1995, p. 2).

There are different Industrial Pollution Projection System parameters depending on the types of complementary data which are available. Because Upper Bound estimates were calculated only from data on firms which were significant polluters, they provide an upward-biased estimate of general sectoral pollution. In contrast, because the Lower Bound intensities were calculated from data on all firms and took pollution from all non-recorded firms as zero, they provide downward-biased estimate (The World Bank, 1995, p. E-10). Although developing-country factories like those in Vietnam may pollute more than factories in the US, I choose to be conservative by using Lower Bound estimates in my calculations to avoid overestimating the degree of pollution.

The methodology I use is that I multiply manufacturing output, exports, and imports by the industry’s Lower Bound coefficient for each industry, then summing across industries to get total predicted pollution for each year for each and all media. By using Industrial Pollution Projection System coefficients, I assume that global technological constraints make some industries more polluting than others.

Industrial Pollution Projection System pollution intensity is defined as a ratio of pollution per unit of manufacturing activity:

Pollutant output intensity = pollutant output/total manufacturing activity

Pollution output intensities can be classified by medium such as air, land or water if pollutant output is calculated in terms of air, land, or water pollution. Total manufacturing activity can be physical volume of output, shipment value, value added, or employment, among which physical volume of output is the most immediately appealing choice (The World Bank, 1995, p. 11-12 & 15).

Because Industrial Pollution Projection System pollution intensity is in pounds per million USD in 1987 while the overall manufacturing output value is at 1994 constant VND billion and export and import values are in USD million constant prices, I convert them to equivalent unit before processing them. The procedure of my calculation is presented in Annex 1.

Industrial Pollution Projection System pollution intensity data show that the most highly toxic pollution intensive in all three media are industrial chemicals except fertilizer, plastics and man-made fibers, tanneries and leather finishing, and non-ferrous metals are the most highly toxic pollution intensive with respect to air, water and land. Food-processing industries such as bakery products, grain mill products, fish products; and other industries such as wearing apparel are the least toxic pollution intensive manufacturing sectors in all three media. Some others are only highly toxic pollution intensive in certain media. For example, iron and steel is relatively intensive in water and air pollution; pulp, paper, and paperboard is prominent in land and water; and textiles is mostly air pollution intensive (The World Bank, 1995, p. 47-49).

Figure 9 shows overall manufacturing output value (1994 VND billion) and its toxic pollution (tones) between 1995 and 2008. I find that manufacturing output took off after the gradual liberalization under the Association of South East Asian Nations Free Trade Area in 1996 and a bilateral trade agreement with the United States in 2000, increasing by 40 percent annually in 1995-2008 (right y-axis). Total pollution associated with the manufacturing output increased by 49 percent over this time period, suggesting that there was a slight shift in the composition of manufacturing towards dirty sectors. If I break down the pollution by media, I find that water, air, and land pollution grew by 47 percent, 48 percent, and 49 percent annually. This suggests that production became slightly more land and air pollution intensive than water pollution intensive during this time, indicating a slight biased shift in the composition of industries towards those that are responsible for air and land.

Figure 9. Overall manufacturing output (1994 VND billion), its total toxic pollution (tones), and pollution breakdown by medium (tones), Vietnam, 1995-2008. Note. The data are from General Statistics Office Hanoi (2007) and the World Bank’s Industrial Pollution Projection System (1995).

Figure 10 shows export values (2005 USD million) and its toxic pollution (kilogram) between 2004 and 2008. I find that exports increased by 108 percent from 27,366 USD million in 2004 to 56,897 USD million in 2008 (right y-axis). Total pollution associated with exports increased by 147 percent from almost 15,000,000 kilograms to almost 38,000,000 kilograms over this time period, suggesting that there was a profound shift in the composition of manufacturing exports towards dirty sectors (left y-axis). The pollution breakdown by media shows that I air, water, and land pollution grew by 126 percent, 146 percent, and 185 percent. This suggests that production became much more land and air pollution intensive than water pollution intensive during this time, indicating a strong biased shift in the composition of exports towards those that are responsible for land.

Figure 10. Exports (2005 USD million), its total toxic pollution (kilograms), and pollution breakdown by medium (kilograms), Vietnam, 2004-2008. Note. The data are from International Trade Center (2008) and the World Bank’s Industrial Pollution Projection System (1995).

Analysis of Vietnamese exports shows that the sectors have shown highest annual increase in exports in 2008 were fertilizers (267 percent), iron and steel (104 percent), textile (65 percent), and dying and leather finishing (60 percent) (International Trade Center, 2008). The textile industry is also large consumer for industrial chemicals. Therefore, growing textiles exports seem to have also fueled a simultaneous increase in industrial chemicals. These are major sources of toxic land pollution listed in Industrial Pollution Projection System pollution intensity. It is thus not surprising to note that Vietnam’s exports are getting dirtier over time since its export specialization has moved away from more tradition oil and other primary commodities towards manufacturing especially chemicals, iron and steel, and leather industries. This indicates that Vietnam has comparative advantage in manufacturing sectors.

Figure 11 shows import values (2005 USD million) and its toxic pollution (kilogram) between 2004 and 2008. In general, imports increased by 85 percent from 32,927 USD million in 2004 to 60,885 USD million in 2008 (right y-axis). Total pollution associated with imports increased by 53 percent from just above 59,000,000 kilograms to just above 91,000,000 kilograms over this time period, suggesting that there was a profound shift in the composition of manufacturing imports towards clean sectors (left y-axis). The pollution breakdown by media shows that I air, water, and land pollution grew by 51 percent, 55 percent, and 56 percent. This suggests that imports have slightly shifted towards water and land clean intensive sectors. This profound shift was the most remarkable in 2008, particularly towards air-clean and land-clean sectors. While imports grew by 3 percent from 58998 USD million in 2007 to 60885 USD million in 2008, total pollution and pollution breakdown by air, land, and water dropped by 8 percent, 9 percent, 8 percent, and 2 percent. It is again not surprising because Vietnam’s highest annual increase in imports in 2008 were meats (117 percent), works of art (103 percent), and beverages and spirits (55 percent) (International Trade Center, 2008). This makes sense to me because as Vietnamese people get richer, they consume more tender meat, branded alcohol, and enjoy arts imported from other countries which they did not have before.

Figure 11. Imports (2005 USD million), its total toxic pollution (kilograms), and pollution breakdown by medium (kilograms), Vietnam, 2004-2008. Note. The data are from International Trade Center (2008) and the World Bank’s Industrial Pollution Projection System (1995).

VII. Recommendations

Although Vietnam’s imports have been relatively cleaner, exports and overall production have not. This means that while trade liberalization measures have been pursued to promote economic growth in Vietnam, they have led to some potentially adverse environmental consequences. This calls for coordination between trade and environmental policies to avoid a trade-off between the economic gains from trade liberalization and its environmental consequences. An empirical study on Vietnam made by Obeid, Mensbrugghe, & Dessus (2002, p. 221) concluded that coordinated reforms could reduce industrial pollution and maintain or even increase growth and trade. In addition, increasing effluent taxes while decreasing border taxes increases real income without deterioration of tax revenues (p. 209). However, some scholars such as Crane (1993, p. 384) argue that this cooperation may not be forthcoming because of different priorities and decision-making procedures. As a result, countries may have to choose to adopt either trade-related process standards and tariff-based approaches or direct environmental policy instruments, such as general process standards. According to Perroni and Wigle (1999, p. 1), both trade-related policies are rather ineffective at reducing global emissions when compared with direct environmental policy instruments. However, the adoption of command and control policies might be exceedingly costly to developing countries, especially because cleaner technologies require use of inputs that are comparatively more abundant in richer countries. By contrast, the adoption of tighter environmental policies is likely to be relatively effective at reducing emissions, and dramatically less costly. This paper highlights the need to find out the best way to coordinate trade and environmental policies for Vietnam if it is practical or the optimal trade-related policies and environmental policies separately weighing benefits and cost associated with them.

VIII. Conclusion and Limitations of this paper and Suggestions for further research

Vietnam’s trade openness, fueled by bilateral and multilateral trade agreements such as the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, the United States-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, and the World Trade Organisation, has increased real GDP growth rates and reduced poverty rate significantly in recent years. Real GDP growth rate grew by 7.5 percent, and the poverty rate declined by 42 percent in 1992-2006. However, trade liberalization has resulted in a biased shift of composition of manufacturing and export output towards the toxic land and air pollution intensive sectors although imports have shifted towards water and land clean intensive sectors. This story is, on the surface, is consistent with what one would expect looking at the trend of Vietnamese production, exports, and imports which show that Vietnamese people have comparative advantage in producing manufacturing pollution-intensive sectors and enjoy things which they did not have before such as meat, spirits, and works of art as income rises.

There are several caveats with this study. Firstly, in the absence of data on Vietnam’s industrial pollution, I used pollution measures from the U.S. as proxies from the World Bank’s Industrial Pollution Projection System. Should pollution measures from developing countries such as India and China or Vietnam itself be available, it would be useful to re-examine the issue using them. Although the ranking of polluted industries in the U.S. may be different from that in Vietnam, many empirical studies prove that the pattern is quite similar in most countries. In addition, Industrial Pollution Projection System requires me to pick either over-estimating or under-estimating parameters for my calculations. My decision of choosing downward-biased estimates is subjective; others may wish to pick upward-biased estimates instead. Moreover, the World Bank’s Industrial Pollution Projection System is quite old because parameters are based on 1987 prices. This leads to another problem with retrieving other data of the same year such as CPI index or GDP deflator for Vietnam back to 1987. As a result, I have to use GDP deflator for 1990 as the second best solution to convert prices from 1987 to another base year.

Secondly, the time period of my analysis for the change in composition of exports and imports from 2004 to 2008 is quite short to observe long-term changes in the composition of industries. Thirdly, because there is no direct converting table for all possible classification systems, the converting process is very lengthy, giving higher chance for errors. For example, to convert 4-digit ISIC Rev.2 to 3-digit SITC Rev.3, one has to convert 4-digit ISIC Rev.2 to 3-digit ISIC Rev.3 then to 3-digit SITC Rev.3. Moreover, because it is not always possible to find a procedure to convert one classification system to another such as from 4-digit ISIC Rev.2 to 2 digit HS, I have to convert them subjectively. However, limitation may be overcome by other researchers by using assisting WITS (World Integrated Trade Solution) software, developed by the World Bank, in close collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, providing access to the United Nations Statistics Division’s COMTRADE, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s TRAINS, and World Trade Organization’s IDB and CTS databases if one wishes to convert different classification systems reliably (The World Bank, 2004).

In addition, the approach used for the analysis in this paper is quite simple. One may wish to improve the depth of the empirical analysis of this paper by using a partial equilibrium model and regressing approach for more precise results. One can also use other comprehensive methodologies such as computable general equilibrium models derived from economic theory and presented with great mathematical sophistication to see the interactions between all sectors of an economy because they capture all direct and indirect effects of changes in trade policy or environmental policy that ripple throughout the rest of the economic system.

Due to the limited scope of the paper, only composition effect on environment quality from trade liberalization is addressed. One may wish to broaden the scope to examine others such as scale effect (or economic growth) and process effect (or technology spillovers) of trade on environment. One may also wish to examine the issue of coordination between trade and environmental policies or optimal trade-related or environmental policies to supplement the analysis of this paper.

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Annex 1: Steps to Calculate Pollution Intensity and Pollution for Vietnam

  1. For overall manufacturing output values and its pollution
  1. Merge manufacturing output values (1994 VND billion) with Industrial Pollution Projection System pollution intensity (pound per 1987 USD million) for each category.
  2. Convert pollution intensity (pound per 1987 USD million) into pollution intensity (kg per 1994 VND million):
    1. I multiply pollution intensities (pound per 1987 USD million) by 0.454 to obtain pollution intensities (kg per 1987 USD million).
    2. I divide pollution intensities (kg per 1987 USD million) by 78.3 to obtain pollution intensities (kg per 1987 VND million) (1 USD = 78.3 VND according to IMF International Financial Statistic Database)
    3. I inflate pollution intensities to 1994 prices to match the output values at constant 1994 prices. I use GDP deflator (2005=100) for the entire Vietnam. Because GDP deflator for 1987 is not available, I use the next possible deflator, which is for 1990, as the second best. According to IMF International Financial Statistic Database:

1990 GDP Deflator (2005=100) = 14.9

1994 GDP Deflator (2005=100) = 46.8

Therefore, the inflation factor to obtain pollution intensities in 1994 is:

46.8 / 14.9 = 3.1

As a result:

Pollution intensities (kg per 1994 VND million) = [Pollution intensities (pound per 1987 USD million) × 0.454 × 3.1] / 78.3

    1. Pollution from manufacturing output:

Pollution (kgs) = Manufacturing output values (1994 VND billion) × 1000 × Pollution intensities (kg per 1994 VND million)

Or:

Pollution (tonnes) = Manufacturing output values (1994 VND billion) × Pollution intensities (kg per 1994 VND

  1. For import and export values and its pollution
  1. Merge import and export values (current USD million) with Industrial Pollution Projection System pollution intensity (pound per 1987 USD million) for each category.
  2. Convert import and export values (current USD million) to imports and exports (2005 USD million). According to IMF International Financial Statistic Database:

2004 GDP Deflator (2005=100) = 96.78

2005 GDP Deflator (2005=100) =100

2006 GDP Deflator (2005=100) = 103.3

2007 GDP Deflator (2005=100) = 106.2

2008 GDP Deflator (2005=100) = 108.5

Therefore, inflation or Deflation factor for 2004-2008:

GDP Deflator for 2004= 100/96.78 = 1.03

GDP Deflator for 2005= 100/100    = 1

GDP Deflator for 2006= 100/103.3 = 0.97

GDP Deflator for 2007= 100/106.2 = 0.94

GDP Deflator for 2008= 100/108.5 = 0.92

As a result:

Export or Import Values (2005 USD Million) = exports or imports at current price * inflation or deflation factor

  1. Convert pollution intensity (pound per 1987 USD million) into pollution intensity (kg per 2005 USD million):
    1. I multiply pollution intensities (pound per 1987 USD million) by 0.454 to obtain pollution intensities (kg per 1987 USD million).
    2. I inflate pollution intensities to 2005 prices to match the imports and exports at constant 2005 prices. I use GDP deflator (2005=100) for the entire US. According to IMF International Financial Statistic Database:

1987 GDP deflator (2005=100) = 64.8

Therefore, inflation factor to obtain pollution intensities (kg per 2005 USD million) is:

100 / 64.8=1.54

As a result:

Pollution intensities (kg per 2005 USD million) = [Pollution intensities (pound per 1987 USD million) × 0.454 × 1.54]

    1. Pollution from imports or exports:

Pollution (kgs) = import or export values (2005 USD million) × Pollution intensities (kg per 2005 USD million)

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Lincoln-Douglas Senatorial Debates 1858

April 14, 2011

THI XUAN HIEU NGO

Vesalius College – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Introduction to Human Communication CMM101

Professor Bernard

26 November 2009

LINCOLN-DOUGLAS SENATORIAL DEBATES 1858

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate, and the incumbent Stephen A. Douglas, a Democrat, participated into seven debates for an Illinois seat in the United States Senate.  Because the issues debated were national as well as local, involving the expansion of slavery into the territories and the rights of slaves in the country, the seven debates attracted nationwide attention far more than any other state-level contest ever had. The debates brought up two contradictory views of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence from the two contestants: all men are created equal”, in their possession of intrinsic natural rights, applied to all human beings in Lincoln’s position versus only applied to whites in Douglas’ belief. In other words, Douglas advocated the values of majority rule with no limit while Lincoln defended minority rights by referring “popular sovereignty” to a problem of morality due to the supposed right of the majority to do wrong. The debates were scheduled for Ottawa, August 21; Freeport, August 27; Jonesboro, September 15; Charleston, September 18; Galesburg, October 7; Quincy, October 13; and Alton, October 15 (“Abraham Lincoln”). In this short research paper, I will first provide personal background of the contestants and historical context of the senatorial debates of 1858, then analyze the first and second debates in terms of their content and dynamics, and finally give my opinions about them.

What is the Illinois background of the contestants? Lincoln and Douglas had a long acquaintance since the early 1830s; and their relationship could be thought of significant others. Lincoln, who was morally opposed to slavery, was a Kentucky and Hoosier Whig and later Republican while Douglas, who was indifferent to slavery, was a Vermont Yankee Jacksonian Democrat. Illinois, which was long an overwhelmingly Jacksonian state, forced Lincoln as a Whig to take a hard political road while it provided Douglas with the easier road immediately in Illinois politics. While Lincoln’s career in politics had reached the limit possible for a Whig in Illinois by the end of his congressional term in 1849, Douglas constantly moved up politically through administrative positions and the Illinois legislative and judicial branches to multiple terms in the federal House of Representatives and Senate. As a result, Lincoln returned to Illinois in the late 1840s to concentrate on his legal career whereas Douglas was thought to be the greatest man in the Illinois and even had been seriously considered presidential timber by the Democrats at their national convention in Cincinnati in 1856 (Davis et al. xi).

The immediate context of the debates could be traced back to its prehistory of at least at least four years when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was enacted in 1854 by Douglas. As a strong nationalist who believed strongly in the occupation of the American West by self-governing people of European ancestry, Douglas wanted to construct and expand transcontinental railroads. However, there were two problems involved: the vast wilderness to the west of Iowa and Missouri must be brought into the Union before a railroad to California could be built; and Southerners didn’t want a single large state to be free. As a result, Douglas created two new territories, Nebraska and Kansas, and proposed the principle of “popular sovereignty,” under which the residents of the new territories would vote on whether slavery would be legal in the territories. Because the Kansas-Nebraska Act contradicted the Missouri Compromise 1820, which enforced new states to the north of the southern border of Missouri to be “free states,” and those to the south of the line to be “slave states”, it implied serious threat that slavery could expand widespread (McNamara). As a result, the Whig party was reconfigured and eventually replaced by the sectional and antislavery Republican Party with the unity of the Democratic Party being threatened; the slavery issue was worsen and resulted in Civil War. It was the Kansas-Nebraska Act that brought Lincoln’s anti-slavery sentiment into sharp focus and brought him back to politics as a member of the new Republican Party in 1856 to participate into the senatorial debates of 1858 (Davis et al. p.xii). He began his campaign with his famous “House Divided” speech at the Capitol in Springfield in June 1858. In his speech, Lincoln argued in his House Divided Speech that Douglas was part of a conspiracy to nationalize slavery and argued that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” (“The Lincoln-Douglas Debates).

Another important event in the background of the Illinois senatorial campaign of 1858 was Douglas’s break with the administration of Democratic President James Buchanan over the Lecompton Constitution. The convention that drew up the Lecompton Constitution represented an electoral and demographic minority whereby only a minority voted. The convention only allowed two options “Constitution with Slavery” vs. “Constitution with no Slavery” whereby the latter simply meant that future importation of slaves into Kansas would be banned (“The Lecompton Constitution”). Thus, the Lecompton Constitution was an instrument prepared by a minority faction to impose slavery on the Free-State majority in Kansas.  President Buchanan pressed for the constitution’s approval by Congress because he believed that it would end the nation’s slavery controversy while allaying the anger of Southerners. Because the convention violated “fundamental principle of free government” and “popular sovereignty”, Douglas broke ranks with the administration in 1857. As a result, Democratic President Buchanan set up a rival National Democratic Party that drew votes away from Douglas, paving the way for a Republican victory in the 1860 presidential election. Douglas’s break with the Buchanan administration also appeared to weaken the Republican unity because many of them favored Douglas’s position on the Lecompton Constitution although Douglas’s position was merely procedural for his indifference to the outcome of a territorial slavery (Davis et al. xv-xvi).

The practice of press coverage at the time was also an important factor in the background of the Illinois senatorial campaign of 1858. Because the press depended largely on political organization for survival, it took sides not only editorially but also in day-to-day coverage, aiming not only to report but also to persuade. For example, in Springfield, the Illinois State Register supported the Democrats while the Illinois State Journal backed up the new Republican Party. In Chicago, Democrats read the Chicago Daily Times; and the Republicans read the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (Holzer 7). The newspapers sanitized the speakers to the best advantage by reproducing the speeches and rebuttals as they perceived their equally partisan readers wanted them preserved. For example, the contestants in the Ottawa debate were analyzed in sharp contrast by different press. The Democratic press reported that Douglas “electrified the crowd” while Lincoln “dodged” and looked “embarrassed”. On the contrary, the Republican journals thought Lincoln appeared “high toned” and “powerful”, and Douglas  “boorish” and “cowardly” (43). Therefore, what Lincoln and Douglas said at their seven debates in 1858 was not then always accurately reported. What was printed had never been questioned perhaps because the debates were “vastly more admired than read” or just because the readers simply remain ignorant of how the record was assembled (4-5).

The first debate was taken place in Ottawa on August 21st. Douglas was the opening speaker who occupied the introducing charges and goaded his opponent throughout the debate. Douglas charged Lincoln with conspiring to “abolitionize” the Whig and Democratic Parties: “In 1854, Mr. Abraham Lincoln and Mr. Trumbull entered into an arrangement, one with the other, and each with his respective friends, to dissolve the old Whig party on the one hand, and to dissolve the old Democratic party on the other, and to connect the members of both into an Abolition party under the name and disguise of a Republican party.” He also accused Lincoln, a member of the “Black Republican” party of being a secret supporter of radical resolutions of the Abolition platform in Springfield, which called for repeal of the fugitive slave law and the emancipation of slaves: “Now, gentlemen, your Black Republicans have cheered every one of those propositions, and yet I venture to say that you cannot get Mr. Lincoln to come out and say that he is now in favor of each one of them.” He also cited as proof Lincoln’s House Divided Speech in which Lincoln said” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half Slave and half Free.” Douglas also charged Lincoln with opposing the Dred Scott decision and wanting to make Illinois “a free Negro colony.” Douglas ended his searing attacks by posing seven questions and challenged Lincoln to answer each of them (National Park Service, “First Debate”).

When it was Lincoln’s turn to give the speech, the audience experienced a distinct change of pace. While Douglas had been bombastic and aggressive, Lincoln appeared relaxed and jovial.  During his turn, Lincoln was mainly on the defensive denying the allegations Douglas had made and did not respond to the questions. Lincoln argued that “the next Dred Scott decision” could allow slavery to spread into free states. Lincoln confirmed that he was not in Springfield when the resolutions were adopted. He also justified his position of supporting slaves’ equal right to liberty, not complete social equality: “I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.” During the whole debate, Lincoln seemed to attack Douglas only once when he charged Douglas with trying to nationalize slavery: “He [Douglas], and those acting with him, have placed that institution [of slavery] on a new basis, which looks to the perpetuity and nationalization of slavery… Its [of slavery’s] advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South” (ibid.). As a result, Lincoln’s Republican friends at home privately worried that he was far too defensive and urged him to be more aggressive at the next debates (Holzer 43).

The second debate was taken place in Freeport on August 27. Lincoln answered the seven questions Douglas posed at Ottawa to confirm his position that he did not “stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law” nor “pledge against the admission of any more slave States into the Union, […] the admission of a new State into the Union with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make, […] to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, […]  to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States”, but “pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States Territories”. Then, Lincoln asked Douglas four questions. In one of the question, Lincoln tried to force Douglas to choose between the principle of popular sovereignty proposed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the United States Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, which stated that slavery could not legally be excluded from the territories: “Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution?” Douglas’s response to the question then became the Freeport Doctrine. Instead of making a direct choice, Douglas stated that the people of a territory could keep slavery out even though the Supreme Court said that the federal government had no authority to exclude slavery, simply by refusing to pass a slave code and other legislation needed to protect slavery: “It matters not what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to the abstract question whether slavery may or may not go into a Territory under the Constitution, the people have the lawful means to introduce it or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations. Those police regulations can only be established by the local legislature, and if the people are opposed to slavery they will elect representatives to that body who will by unfriendly legislation effectually prevent the introduction of it into their midst. If, on the contrary, they are for it, their legislation will favor its extension. Hence, no matter what the decision of the Supreme Court may be on that abstract question, still the right of the people to make a slave Territory or a free Territory is perfect and complete under the Nebraska bill” (National Park Service, “Second Debate”). In taking this position of finding a compromise between pro-slavery and anti-slavery positions, Douglas alienated Southerners who preferred strict adherence to the Dred Scott decision regardless of states’ rights. Although Douglas was able to hold his Illinois followers and secure reelection to the Senate with his response, the Freeport Doctrine vastly contributed to his loss in the 1860 presidential election (“The Freeport Doctrine”).

I see that the two contestants in the second debate moved towards a better balance of attacking and defending positions. Lincoln was more on the attacking side than in the first debate as he asked four questions, putting Douglas in a difficult position while Douglas was more on the defensive side to answer the questions. However, Lincoln and Douglas’s styles in the second debate were not much different from the first debate: Lincoln was calm, relaxed, thoughtful, and penetrating while Douglas continued to be alert, aggressive, combative, arrogant, and patronizing. In both debates, there seemed to have a certain fine dignity, harmony and a convincing quality in Lincoln’s method of argument while Douglas’ arguments seemed to lack logical sequence and intuitional judgment due to having too little heart.

In conclusion, although Lincoln lost that Senate race to Douglas, the direct confrontation with Douglas, the unbeatable “Little Giant”, over important national issues during seven senatorial debates had brought Lincoln significant popularity which eventually led to Lincoln’s nomination for Presidential election of the United States in 1860. In 1860, Lincoln was elected as the President of the United States. An interesting question to historians and other scholars arise: without the 1858 debates, would Lincoln still have emerged as a national political figure? To some people, Lincoln would not because his popularity could only be earned from the senatorial debates against Douglas, the famous figure. Roy Morris Jr.’s thesis in his book The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln’s Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America, claimed that “Had it not been for Douglas, Lincoln would have remained merely a good trial lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, known locally for his droll sense of humor, bad jokes, and slightly nutty wife.” However, to others, e.g. John A. Corry, the author of The First Lincoln-Douglas Debates, October 1854, Lincoln would have emerged as a national political figure even without the 1858 debates due to his debating skills and ability to hold his own against stiff competition (Sampson). Although the debates took place more than a century ago, they still engaged a key question in American political life: What is democracy’s purpose? Is it to satisfy the desires of the majority? Or is it to achieve a just and moral public order?

References

“Abraham Lincoln – Stephen Douglas Debates Election of 1858 Historical Material”. Paperless Archives. 26 Nov. 2009 <http://www.paperlessarchives.com/lincoln_douglas_debates.html>

Davis, Rodney & Wilson, Douglas. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2008 <http://books.google.com>

Holzer, Harold. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The First Complete, Unexpurgated Text. New York: The Fordham University Press, 2004 <http://books.google.com/>

McNamara. “The Kansas-Nebraska Act”. About.com. 26 Nov. 2009 < http://www.about.com/&gt;

National Park Service. “First Debate: Ottawa, Illinois”. 26 Nov. 2009 <http://www.nps.gov>

National Park Service. “Second Debate: Freeport, Illinois”. 26 Nov. 2009 <http://www.nps.gov>

Sampson, Robert D., Review Essay. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 30.1 (2009): 12       pars. 26 Nov. 2009 <http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jala/30.1/sampson.html>.

“The Freeport Doctrine”. Encyclopedia. 26 Nov. 2009 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>

“The Lecompton Constitution”. Encyclopedia. 26 Nov. 2009 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>

“The Lincoln-Douglas Debates”. The Lincoln Institute. 26 Nov. 2009             <http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/>


“STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH”

December 24, 2008

One of the most inspiring speeches, made by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and Pixar, at Standford University in 2005 (qtd. Robbie’s Garbage Collected Blog, http://garbagecollected.org/)


AGENT ORANGE CONTAMINATION: BIEN HOA – BIEN HUNG (VIETNAM)

December 5, 2008

By Thi Xuan Hieu Ngo

Vesalius College – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Course: Science Planet and Earth SCI291E

Professor Denise Baines

2 Dec. 2008

AGENT ORANGE CONTAMINATION IN BIEN HOA – BIEN HUNG (VIETNAM)

Bien Hoa City and its surrounding area (Bien Hung Lake), with a population of almost four hundred thousands, are one of the environmental hot spots in Vietnam due to severe dioxin contamination (Schecter et al., Recent Dioxin). They are located in southern Vietnam, approximately 32 km north of Ho Chi Minh City, and are near a former air base used for “Operation Ranch Hand” fixed-wing aircraft Agent Orange spray missions. Agent Orange is a herbicide, which contains high concentration of persistent and very toxic chemical called dioxin or “TCDD” (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin). It was sprayed in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 by the US Army to defoliate inland hardwood forests, coastal mangrove forests, and cultivated land (Arison III ). Although the war ended over 30 years ago, the adverse effects from dioxin still continue on this territory. By looking at various studies, this paper concludes that dioxin levels in soils, sediments, food, and humans in Bien Hoa – Bien Hung are relatively high; residents are at risk of health problems; and that urgent plans for adaptation and mitigation must be drawn to tackle the problem.

According to The US Department of Defense, an estimated release of 5000 to 7000 gallons of Agent Orange from underground storage tanks at this location occurred just right after the spraying ended. Dioxin can transfer from soil into organic matter in sediment in lakes or rivers despite being highly lipophilic and significantly hydrophobic. It then moves up the food chain from phytoplankton to zooplankton, from zooplankton to fish, and then into humans (Schecter et al., Recent Dioxin).

With this knowledge, a study was conducted in 2004 by the Technical University of Berlin (Germany) to examine soil and sediment in the region. The study concludes that dioxin levels in soil samples of Bien Hoa Airbase and in different sediment layers of Bien Hung Lake are much higher than standard values suggested by Canadian Environmental Quality Guideline. In soil samples of Bien Hoa Airbase, the dioxin level, on average, is 46 times higher than the standard value for safety of agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial use. In sediment of Bien Hung Lake, dioxin level is up to 20.4 times higher than (probable effect level) PEL value. In fact, the results are relatively high with respect to the dioxin concentrations in soil/sediment of some developed countries (Germany, United Kingdom, Luxemburg, and Belgium). Because dioxins are extremely persistent and bio-accumulative, they have the potential to accumulate in the tissue of aquatic organisms, which can lead to the bioaccumulation of chemicals in higher levels of the aquatic food web. As a result, wildlife species, bird, and humans who rely on these organisms for food tend to suffer from health problems (Mai et al.). According to an official assessment on consequences of the toxic chemical to biodiversity and alteration of ecosystems in the Bien Hung Lake, conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam, species structure is poor: imbalance and lack of some species, particularly amphibian, reptile, shrimp and crab (Nguyen).

There seems to be positive relationship of high dioxin levels in contaminated soils and sediments, and in food. In 2002, the University of Texas Houston School of Public Health conducted a study for food collected in Bien Hoa-Bien Hung. The study concludes that there is elevation of TCDD in some of the food products. For example, the levels of wet weight for ducks were from 276 ppt to  331 ppt, chickens from 0.031 to 15 ppt, fish from 0.063 to 65 ppt, and a toad with 56 ppt while the usual TCDD levels in food are less than 0.1 ppt (Schecter et al., Food).

There also seems to be positive relationship of high dioxin levels in food consumed, and in human blood. A recent study reports that 95% of 43 selected residents of Bien Hoa City experience elevated dioxin levels of over 5 parts per trillion (ppt) TCDD while typical blood TCCD levels in normal Vietnamese people are less than 2 ppt. In fact, the highest blood TCDD level found in Vietnam, 413 ppt, was recently measured in a Vietnamese person living in Bien Hoa City (Schecter et al., Food). This suggests that dioxin-contaminated food is responsible for the elevation of dioxins in humans in this region. According to EPA’s Dioxin Reassessment Report in 2006, TCDDs are carcinogenic to humans and can cause immune system alterations. People who are exposed to the toxic dioxin can suffer reproductive, developmental, and nervous system damage such as endocrine disruption (altered lipid metabolism; liver damage, and skin lesions) over several generations (qtd. in Schecter et al., Food). Therefore, urgent solutions are obligatory for people who are living and will be born in this region.

However, there are many difficulties in mitigating the perpetuating problem because of high cost involved and political issues in and between both Vietnam and the United States. Mitigation requires extensive data and intensive studies and programs to track, interdict, and monitor the movement of TCDD and remove the contamination. The cost involved is a significant challenge for Vietnam. In addition, there has not yet been a clear mitigation road map of what dimensions of the problem need to be solved, in what order, when and how to solve them, what steps, and at what cost due to political obstacles. Although the third annual meeting of the Vietnam-US Joint Advisory Committee on Agent Orange/dioxin last month agreed on an allocation of $3 million (from the US Government), this fund will have to be shared among the most competitive mitigation projects, in which Bien Hoa – Bien Hung is just one candidate. Moreover, despite the fact that international organizations (e.g. the Ford Foundation, UNDP, UNICEF, and the Czech Republic) have committed donations, no precise funds are yet declared (Remarks by Ambassador). This leaves us no choice but prompt plans for adaptation while waiting for further plans. They include substituting clean food for the contaminated, informing the local residents about the toxic level of dioxin and its consequences, isolating and evacuating the residents of the territories with high risk (Schecter et al., Food; Mai et al.).

In conclusion, it is clear that the deadly effects of dioxin on environment and human health in Bien Hoa-Bien Hung have not reduced over time but increase in some residents. Soils and sediments in the area are proved to have elevation of dioxin, which leads to high dioxin level in food and human blood. As a result, residents living in this territory are at risk of various cancers, reproductive, developmental, and nervous system disturbance. This calls for urgent plans for adaptation and mitigation to tackle the problem. However, since mitigation face many difficulties, quick adaptation schemes are urgent.

Works cited

Arison III, Lindsey H. “Executive Summary: The Herbicidal Warfare Program in Vietnam, 1961 – 1971.” 22 Oct. 2008 <http://www.utvet.com/agentorange2.html>

Mai, Tuan Anh, Thanh Vu Doan, Joseph Tarradellas, Luiz Felippe de Alencastro, Dominique Grandjean. “Dioxin Contamination in Soils of Southern Vietnam.” Chemosphere 67.9 (2007): 1802-1807.

Nguyen, Xuan Quynh. “Assessment on Consequences of the Toxic Chemical to Biodiversity and Alteration of Ecosystems in Ma Da area (Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc) and Lake Bien Hung (Bien Hoa City) from 2002-2004.” 22 Oct. 2008 <http://www.office33.gov.vn/PrintPreview.aspx?ID=4713>

Remarks by Ambassador Michael W. Michalak: Ambassador Michael Michalak, Press Conference Agent Orange/Dioxin Joint Advisory Committee Results, The American Center, Hanoi, Vietnam.” Embassy of the United States. 16 Sept. 2008. 22 Oct. 2008 <http://vietnam.usembassy.gov/ambspeech091608.html>

Schecter, Arnold, Hoang Trong Quynh, Marian Pavuk, Olaf Päpke, Rainer Malisch, John D. Constable. “Food as a Source of Dioxin Exposure in the Residents of Bien Hoa City, Vietnam.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 45.8 (2003). 22 Oct. 2008 <http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/2003/Agent-Orange-FoodAug03.htm>

Schecter, Arnold, Le Cao Dai, Olaf Päpke, Joelle Prange, John D. Constable, Muneaki Matsuda, Vu Duc Thao, Amanda L. Piskac. “Recent Dioxin Contamination from Agent Orange in Residents of a Southern Vietnam City.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 43.5 (2001). 22 Oct. 2008 <http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Agent-Orange-Vietnam-DioxinMay01.htm>


 MOVIE REVIEW: RATATOUILLE

September 17, 2008

By Thi Xuan Hieu Ngo

Vesalius College – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Course: Humanity HUM112E

Professor DeWachter

6 Sep. 2008

Ratatouille, released in 2007 by Pixar, is definitely one of the masterpieces in the genre of animation and comedy not only for kids but also for adult. There is no surprise that it won an Oscar and many other awards for being the best animated movie of the year and many other features (Awards for Ratatouille (2007)). My husband and I had so much fun last Friday evening when we rented Ratatouille DVD and watched it at home. Although we were hesitant at the beginning as to whether it could be a good choice because we heard that it was all about a rat in a kitchen. However, just like any other Director Brad Bird’s movie, Ratatouille did not disappoint us. It may be far from being perfect; but inspirational messages, creativity and complexity in such a simple story, amazing and memorable characters, excellent animation features, and interesting scripts make the movie essential viewing. Therefore, I highly recommend it.

Remy (Patton Oswalt), a member of a big family of rats living in Paris, dreams of becoming a chef after being inspired by the cooking philosophy of the late Gusteau (Brad Garrett), one of the most famous chefs in the city. Rather than digging up and eating the garbage as his loving father commands, Remy risks his life to raid food ingredients from kitchens and finds ways to combine them creatively. When there is an opportunity for Remy to cook in a restaurant founded by his favourite chef, the late Gusteau, he teams up with untalented Linguini (Lou Romano), who is Gusteau’s nephew and the kitchen’s garbage boy. Together they have to avoid suspicion of the kitchen’s ruthless head chef Skinner (Ian Holm) and the only female chef, Colette (Janeane Garofaldo) and impress Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole), a restaurant critic and Gusteau’s relentless enemy.

After the great success of The Incredibles released in 2004, Director Brad Bird continues to infuse us with engrossing storytelling and creativity with Ratatouille. It is true that the title “Ratatouille” and its simple story of a rat in a kitchen with the French setting do not seem worth spending one-hundred and one minutes and eight euros on viewing it at a cinema. But an inspiring message on pursuing our dreams and overcoming obstacles standing in our way may give us strength, determination, and optimism. After several deadly escapes from being caught collecting spices in an old lady’s cottage or practicing cooking in Gusteau’s restaurant, Remy never gives up. Although Remy’s dad shows him dead rats in a window of an exterminator shop and tells him that he cannot change this horrible fact, Remy still believes that “change will start when we decide.” When his dad asks where he goes, he replies “With luck, forward.” If Remy is not afraid of fighting for his dream and becomes a chef, why can’t we fight for ours? If Remy thinks nature can be changed and that rats can become friends with humans, why don’t we think there is always a possibility for seemingly unattainable things? Remy proves to us that only by moving forward can we make our dream come true. In addition, as society’s eating habits are shifting to frozen and fast food, Ratatouille revitalizes traditions of fine cuisine. While Skinner does not care about the heritage passed down from Gusteau and wants to exploit frozen, cheap menus as creativity in his menu, Remy, Gusteau, and Ego defend French cuisine’s tradition. Just like what Bird did for the The Giant Iron, he has transformed Ratatouille with a simple story of a rat in a kitchen into a masterpiece which is so funny, touching and thought-provoking!

What makes Ratatouille successful also lies in the rich and distinguished characters with their lively and gripping voices. Remy is so endearing when he explains his unusual desires and big dreams that make him not fit into his rat community and make his family unable to understand him. On the other hand, Skinner appears loathsome with his modest height, suspicious eyes, meticulousness, and narrow-mindedness. Vocal performance is excellent too. No one seems to be able to present Anton Ego as a villainous, threatening food critic as successfully as Peter O’Toole. No one may be able to define how boisterous the late Gusteau is as well as Brad Garrett. Linguini appears even more uncertain when Lou Romano is on the show. Obviously, it is their over-emphasized expressions, gestures and emotional voices that make them amazing and memorable characters.

However, the movie is not that perfect. I agree that some parts focus too much on an adult audience with relatively heavy dialogue, technical and French language used in kitchens, fast pace of speaking, and many scenes of ins and outs of professional chefs’ working. But the animated feature is so exquisitely realized that children involve themselves completely as if they lived in the movie’s world. Photorealism is excellent when everything from every small detail of every hair strand on the rat Remy to exteriors of lively Paris is presented as accurate as photographs. The animation is almost perfect when it is combined with intelligent, gripping, and funny scripts. Here are the scripts I love the most:

Narrator: [on television] Although each of the world’s countries would like to dispute this fact, we French know the truth: The best food in the world is made in France. The best food in France is made in Paris. And the best food in Paris, some say, is made by Chef Auguste Gusteau . . . Chef Gusteau’s cookbook Anyone Can Cook! climbed to the top of the bestseller list. But not everyone celebrates its success.
[
cutting away to Ego]
Anton Ego: Amusing title, Anyone Can Cook! What’s even more amusing is that Gusteau actually seems to believe it. I, on the other hand take cooking seriously. And, no, I don’t think anyone can do it. (Memorable quotes for Ratatouille (2007))

Unfortunately, there are some details you may wish to be modified. First of all, the fact that Remy controls Linguini by pulling on Linguini’s hair as joysticks does not make any sense. What is more, the human interplay in some romance scenes between Linguini and chef Colette is somewhat awkward and not very convincing. While Colette appears serious, severe, experienced, and a bit too self-confident, Linguini seems dull, weak, and useless. Even worse, the friendship between Remy and Linguini appears not very voluntary and pure because it seems to be based on the fact the “I just need your friendship for what you have because I don’t have it.” For those who watched Toy Story or Finding Nemo and were inspired by the true admirable friendships between Woody and Buzz or Nemo and Dory, the friendship between Remy and Linguini may appear so disappointing. However, the loving relationship between Remy and his family (his dad and his brothers) is admirable: Remy sacrifices himself to save his brother Emile; he never steals food for himself but does so when his brothers are starving to death.

To conclude, Ratatouille is worth viewing because its achievements far outweigh its flaws. I am sure Remy can inspire you with his thoughts and dreams and that you will have a great experience.

References

Awards for Ratatouille (2007).” 1 Sept. 2008. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382932/quotes&gt;

Memorable quotes from Ratatouille (2007).” 1 Sept. 2008. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382932/awards>


WEBSITE EVALUATION IN RELATION TO TOPIC OF CONSERVATION: Save the Rhino International

December 16, 2007

By Thi Xuan Hieu Ngo

Vesalius College – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Course: English for Academic Purpose-Research Paper

Professor Pamela Dalby

6 Dec. 2007

On June 3, 1844, on an island off the coast of Iceland, the last Great Auks, flightless birds, were killed[1]. Since then, the Great Auk is known only from drawing, written description and specimen displayed in some museums. It not only signalled the Earth’s shrunken biodiversity, “the variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur”[2], but also indicated a great loss of culture, knowledge and autecology of the Great Auk community. As a result, conservation movements emerged. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2003), conservation is “a careful preservation and protection of something; especially planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect”[3]. In this paper, the conservation is narrowed down to protection of endangered species from threats, reduction in quantity, and disappearance.

Perhaps one of the most critically endangered species is rhino as the number of rhino species in the world has reduced from more than thirty species sixty years ago to five: black, white, Indian, Javan and Sumatran[4]. According to The International Rhino Foundation, rhinos were much more diverse and widespread and could be found in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia[5]. However, rhinos today can only be found in Africa and Asia[6]. In addition, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has recently announced that the West African black rhinoceros appear to be extinct[7]. In response to the problem, there are many organizations in the world set up to call for rhino conservation; but do their missions correspond to its objectives? How successful are they in responding to its goals? Do they have enough human resources with relevant expertise to carry out their conservation objectives? This paper will specifically concentrate on Save the Rhino International organization, located in the United Kingdom, at its website www.savetherhino.org, as an example to answer these questions. The method applied in the examination is to weigh up, analyse and assess the mission statement, the site’s content and its credibility to justify how far they relate to the topic. The purpose is to demonstrate that although to some extent the organization can fulfil the goals of topic and its website content is relatively relevant to its mission, its reliability in terms of relevant mastery appears limited.

Save the Rhino International, a non-profit organization located in London and registered with the charity number of 1035072 at the Charity Commission (the Regulator for Charities in England and Wales), attempts to establish its mission statement:

Save the Rhino International works to conserve genetically viable populations of critically endangered rhinoceros species in the wild. Our aim is to increase rhino numbers by providing financial and in-kind support for rhino projects and for community-based initiatives.

NB:
For rhino populations to qualify as being “wild”, three conditions must be satisfied:

· They must be free-ranging within an area large enough to sustain a breeding group

· The area in question must consist of natural rhino habitat

· They must survive by feeding off natural vegetation in the area (i.e., without human intervention)

“Genetically viable” populations are generally taken to mean those with a minimum of 20 individuals. In some areas, smaller populations have been known to breed successfully, although it is not known what the impact is on the long-term genetic diversity of such a population. [8]

Now let us examine why the topic is significant.

First of all, some evidence suggests that rhinos encounter three main threats. Perhaps the most significant danger they confront is poaching for horns, hide and meats. Rhino horns were proved by some scientists to be beneficial to rheumatism, arthritis, fever, and other ailments[9] and were worth about $7,400 per kilogram in China in 1989[10]. In 1993, TRAFFIC, a joint programme of World Wildlife Fund and The World Conservation Union, estimated that roughly 100 rhinos each year were killed to serve South Korea market alone (ibid). Rhino horns are also sculpted mainly for jambiyas, ceremonial daggers, in Middle East. Although trading rhino horns has been prohibited by International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 1980[11], smuggling of approximately150 pounds of horn into Yemen took place every year in the mid-1990s[12]. Rhinos also encounter the threat of human disruption: economic and political instability. The example are the invasion of Maoist to Nepal considerably hindering some conservation practice of Indian rhinos; disturbance in African countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda apparently responsible for heavy losses of rhino population since the 1960s[13]; endless forest exploitation and agricultural expansion are most likely the cause of putting a great number of Javan, Sumatran and Indian rhinos in jeopardy as their habitat is shrinking[14]. The other major threat to rhinos’ survival is difficulty of healthy breeding as a result of small and dispersed community. According to Dr Martin Brooks, chairman of African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, the northern white rhino is forecasted unlikely to be able to recover to a viable level as only four animals have been found in the Democratic Republic of Congo[15].

In addition, rhinos are listed as “critically endangered” species under The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list in 2002 and therefore must be the target for conservation effort. According to World Wildlife Fund, only less than 16,000 rhinos in the world, which account for account for less than 10 percent, survive since 1970[16]. Additionally, southern-central black rhinos in Africa were reported to decrease by 82 percent from 1980 to 2001 and probably to be extinct regionally in Angola; Botswana; Mozambique; Zambia[17]. Similarly, northern white rhinos were reported to decrease by 96 percent in 2002[18] and only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 19 animals the Garamba National Park in 2004[19]. Likewise, it is reported that the number of Indian rhinos is just over 2,400; of Sumatran rhinos is fewer than 300; of Javan rhino is approximately 50 to 60 living in the wild[20].

It is also noteworthy that rhino conservation efforts as a whole have achieved a significant result. For instance, a number of southern white rhinos has soared substantially from approximately 50 in 1900s to 11,000 in 2004 mainly as a consequence of confined breeding programmes. In the same manner, black rhino population has mounted from roughly 2,400 in the mid 1900s to 3,600 in 2004 due to anti-poaching programmes. In the same token, Indian rhino numbers have risen from under 100 in the early 1900s to approximately 2,400 in 2002[21].

Altogether, we can conclude that rhino conservation plays a critical role not only in protecting current rhinos from threats and extinction but also in attempting to raise the population to a sustainable breeding level. Therefore, it should carry on.

Next, some evidence suggests that Save the Rhino International in some measure has successfully responded to the topic’s challenges and goals in three main areas.

Acknowledging poaching as the most significant threat to rhino population, the organization spent more than a half of its total income on anti-poaching and monitoring programs. These programs are designed to discover and prevent poachers and collect data about rhino variety and quantity. Along with the mission of supporting rhino projects, it donated 12 percent of its total donation to the rhino monitoring programme in Tsavo East National Park for improving its moderate security and a smaller amount to the Chyulu Hills rhino project in Kenya for uncovering and removing traps and preventing other illegal activities. It also sponsored Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania the amount of £4,542 for maintaining Sanctuary fence to prevent poaching[22].

Realizing the threat of human disturbance, the organization spent a quarter of its total income on environmental education. The program is designed to raise conservation awareness for children and adults and lecture on issues of conflict between human and wildlife. Again, it donated £26,472 to The Laikipia Wildlife Forum’s Environmental Education (EE) programme in Kenya and £3,020 to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda, for giving conservation lectures[23].

Perceiving the importance of sustainable breeding rhino population, the organization emphasizes conserving “’genetically viable’ rhino populations with a minimum of 20 individuals.” According to Raoul du Toit, rhino population must be large enough to maintain genetic diversity in order to produce strong offspring; a minimum of 20 unrelated founders with capacity of reproduction is required in order to enable quick procreation beyond 100 animals so that healthy genes can be inherited by future generation even when founders are dead[24]. Therefore, genetic viability pursued by Save the Rhino International tends to be crucial for rhino survival and growth.

From achievement’s point of view, the organization to some extent has managed to accomplish what it promises in its mission statement in related to the topic’s goals. First of all, according to annual report of 2005-2006, its total income was reported to reach more than half million pounds with an increase of by half compared to the year 2005 while its management and administration costs decreased by 3.3 percent of its total cost. This was consequently to allow for higher financial resources for carrying out its mission of “providing financial and in-kind support for rhino projects and for community-based initiatives.“ In addition, with the supporting fund from the organisation, Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia succeeded in translocation of 30 white and black rhinos to their former habitats; and “Indian Rhino Vision 2020” project promised to bring up the rhino population of Assam by half from 2,000 by 2020. Similarly, Matusadona National Park and Lowveld Conservancies in Zimbabwe have managed to increase rhino population significantly in some areas; and RPU programme, Way Kambas NP, Sumatra (Indonesia) has successfully saved two female rhinos from unprotected areas. The organization is also self-confident in its future by setting a clear promising planning to raise funds for the following years. For 2008, there are several Overseas Challenges offers such as Rhino Climb Kilimanjaro, Rhino Climb Kenya, Rhino Trek India and Rhino Cycle Namibia[25].

Now let us move on to examine Save the Rhino International’s website content in order to understand fully how the main purposes and key values of the mission statement are carried out in its daily operation. We also comment briefly on the site’s construction and accessibility of information displayed on the site as they play a crucial role not only in promoting the organization’s image to the public but also in delivering full information within audiences’ time limit. This section will demonstrate that the site content is quite relevant to the organization’s mission statement and the topic. It also shows that the site’s construction is relatively clear and consistent and its accessibility of information displayed is of acceptable standard.

First of all, we can learn more about the organization’s aims by looking at the aim section on the “about us” page. This section highlights that all the five species of rhino are brought into the main focus of the organization’s conservation of “genetically viable” rhinos. The section also shows that the organization attempts to improve the quality of its own fundraising and finance-providing activities in order to assist rhino projects to accomplish their goals and promote learning and exchange knowledge and skills among them[26].

Secondly, the grant-making activity section, found on the “about us” page, provides information about which projects are to receive Save the Rhino International’s financial support.  It demonstrate that financial aid is only granted to proficient projects that serve to prevent illegal hunting, transfer and adequately distribute raised rhino population to its natural habitats, study the threats rhino may encounter, improve rhino health, train employees and managers, provide public education of environment and rhino conservation and ensure genetic variety for rhino breeding. These projects are mainly in Asia (India, Indonesia and Malaysia) and Africa (Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania etc.)[27].

Thirdly, in order to learn about the organization’s working principles, key values and approaches used to achieve what is stated in the mission statement, we can look at the approach section which can be also found on the “about us” page. One of these tactics is to apply realistic achievable objective method to conserve “genetically viable” rhino population. The organization also focuses on the sustainability of natural habitats to serve not only wildlife but also communities nearby. Another working practice employed in its operation is to support long-term projects rather than short-term ones. It also emphasizes its neutral position in its operation unrelated to any political campaigning. Its activities are to collect money from running public events, promoting rhino images, habitats and wild life and associating with other non-profit organization to support qualified rhino projects worldwide rather than running its own ones[28].

In addition, we can discover how the charity’s income is usually collected by looking at its annual report of 2005-2006. For example, a vast majority of total income came from public events such as the marathons in New York and London, the Woburn Rhino Run, the endurance event of the Third Longest Day and the two overseas challenges of Rhino Climb Kilimanjaro and Rhino Trek Namibia; a small majority came from miscellaneous activities such as memorial event for Mike Hearn, the charismatic Research Director of Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia, who died in January 2005, individual donations, online sale of rhino-related products and membership packages, Gift Aid claims and interest on bank account; a substantial minority came from the European Associations of Zoos and Aquaria, Save the Rhino International’s partner; a small minority came from corporate fundraising such as Ecko Unlimited, Victor Stationery, The London Speaker Bureau and Capital International charity[29].

Finally, the rhino information section aims at explaining why rhinos must be protected. This section also attempts to promote our understanding and sympathy of rhinos by providing details of statistics of rhino habitants, characteristics of five rhino species, rhino evolution, rhino threats, and debates of rhino topics. The focus is on a wide range of target audiences, to whom Save the Rhino International wishes to express its mission statement, ranging from teachers to children, from rhino lovers to ignoramus and from rhino experts to non-specialists[30].

It is also worth mentioning that the construction of the organization’s website appears quite consistent across pages in fonts, size, space, colours and design. It also seems moderately clear in its menu and presentation with pictures as well as appearing honest and serious with supporting hyperlinks. In addition, the language used on the website is relatively easy to understand as it seems not to contain highly technical words or jargon although it is restricted to only one language i.e English. Besides, the writing style is relatively formal; the tone is serious and honest; the English language is used correctly in terms of grammar and structures.

Regarding accessibility of information, although the website does not have a “search tool” where we can type key words to search for a specific piece of information, it has a site map which illustrates the whole structure of the website’s information just as the content of a book. Therefore, it still allows visitors to search for particular details quite effectively. In addition, the site uses standard technology allowing simple navigation for any visitors with no prior experience in website usage. However, it does not offer selective information depending on visitors’ different taste and experience. In other words, whether you have prior knowledge of rhino conservation or not, you are presented with the same information.

The website also displays a committee of six members who convene quarterly to decide on which rhino projects and community-based initiatives to sponsor, evaluate the success of past sponsorship, determine short-term and long-term goals, introduce new fundraising tactics and reassess monthly financial accounts. In addition, it has five members of staff and a freelance project advisor. It also has a group of eleven patrons who contribute to the organization’s campaigns[31].

It is essential to evaluate the organisation’s credibility by assessing academic or professional qualifications of those whose names appear on the site in relation to the mission statement and rhino conservation topic

First of all, Cathy Dean, its Director and Chair of the UK Rhino Group, is in charge of “managing the team, budgets and project liaison.” Part of her job is also to communicate with applicants and assess rhino project applications for grants. However, her academic background and experience prior to working at the organization were neither related to her function at the organization nor to Save the Rhino’s mission statement. According to Save the Rhino International’s website, her study major was art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art. In addition, her experience was in art book publishing and retailing and writing books and in the capital campaigns for Tate Modern and Tate Britain. Nevertheless, she has been working for Save the Rhino International for six years[32].

Next, Petra Fleischer, Fundraising Manager, is responsible for corporate relations and supporting the director to evaluate rhino project applications for grants. Before working for the organization, Petra Fleischer was working as a Spokesperson and a Fundraising and Communication Coordinator for Trees For Cities, an independent charity working with tree planting projects and public awareness of trees in the UK[33]. However, there is no other information about for how long she worked at Trees For Cities, which degree she has. Therefore, we cannot be sure whether she has professional qualifications for assessing rhino projects.

Now we will evaluate trustees’ qualifications. Trustees of Save the Rhino International handle the most important functions as they are responsible for final decision on rhino project applications which attempt to increase “genetically viable”, “wild” rhino populations and the amount of grants. However, information about credentials appears very limited to only 4 trustees, and most of them seem not to have relevant qualifications to their important responsibilities at the organization or in the conservation field. In addition, one trustee appears to shame the organization by participating in other organization whose mission is in conflict with Save the Rhino International’s.

First of all, Christina Franco is found to be also a trustee of the Wilderness Foundation UK founded in 1974, a registered charity working to preserve and promote the value of the world’s last remaining wild areas[34]. Although she appears to have relevant experience, we can not be sure whether she has sufficient knowledge to assess rhino projects as there is no further information about how long she has been working at the Wilderness Foundation UK and which major she studied.

Secondly, Adam Wylie also appears not to have professional qualifications relevant to his functions at the organization. He is found to be also the managing director of 23red Company specializing in brand communication and marketing[35]. Therefore, we can be sceptical about how he can decide on which projects to grant.

Thirdly, Robert Devereux, despite valuable experience in many qualified organizations, also appears not to have professional qualifications relevant to his functions at the organization. Robert Devereux is also a member of board of governors and a project director of Southbank Centre, a UK organization working with art, literature and music festivals, collection and exhibitions. His prior experience included working for Virgin Communications and the Virgin Media Group as a chairman and an entertainment division director responsible for building up Virgin Radio, Virgin Net, Virgin Interactive Entertainment and planning the purchase of Virgin Cinemas. He was a founding director of the Central London Training and Enterprise Council and the North Kensington City Challenge providing project and business consultancy[36].

Finally, George Stephenson, a trustee of Save the Rhino International, is found to be also a director of Roxton Bailey Robinson, a UK travel company offering sport shooting. Roxton Bailey Robinson additionally stealthily specializes in organizing “trophy hunting” packages in the UK and abroad. These packages do not exclude killing endangered species listed under the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) such as an offer to British Columbia in Canada to track and kill up to “six grizzly bears listed (for that region) under CITES Appendix III.” George Stephenson also held events to acquire money for Save the Rhino International “on his sporting estate in Wiltshire”. The League criticized that George Stephenson has embarrassed Save the Rhino International with “his more blood thirsty interests”[37].

In conclusion, I recommend not to donate money to Save the Rhino International although it has realized the importance and achieved goals of rhino conservation topic to some extent by fully identifying the most three major threats and sponsoring qualified rhino projects to increase viable rhino population in wild habitats. Its website content is also relatively relevant to its mission and the topic by stating the methods applied in conservation performance and explaining criteria of external rhino projects applying for grants. However, its credibility isweak as its principal contributors seem not to have sufficient relevant academic qualifications or professional experience to carry out the mission statement and their function. In addition, one of the trustees is criticized by some people for discredited the organization to some extent as he is discovered to be also a director of another organization with conflicting values. It is also noteworthy that the findings of credentials are limited to only half of leading contributors; and therefore, we can be sceptical about the qualifications of those remaining not assessed.


Note

[1] Jim Cornish, 2003, http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/great_auk.pdf

[2] the California Biodiversity Council, http://biodiversity.ca.gov/Biodiversity/biodiv_def2.html

[3] qtd. in Andreas Merkl et al., 2003, http://www.cciforum.org/pdfs/CCIF_Concession_Paper.pdf

[4] the World Wide Fund Hong Kong, http://www.wwf.org.hk/eng/pdf/references/factsheets/factsheet46.PDF

[5] The International Rhino Foundation, http://www.rhinos-irf.org/rhinosincrisis/

[6] the World Wide Fund Hong Kong, http://www.wwf.org.hk/eng/pdf/references/factsheets/factsheet46.PDF

[7] (qtd. in Sean Markey, 2006, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/07/060712-black-rhino.html)

[8] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/536/default.aspx

[9] BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/conservation/rhinos

[10] World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/trade/faqs_rhino.cfm

[11] BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/conservation/rhinos

[12] World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/trade/faqs_rhino.cfm

[13] BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/conservation/rhinos

[14] World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/trade/faqs_rhino.cfm

[15] Qtd. in The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources,  http://www.iucn.org/en/news/archive/2006/07/7_pr_rhino.htm

[16] World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/trade/faqs_rhino.cfm

[17] IUCN, 2002, http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/39321/all

[18] IUCN, 2002, http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/4183/all

[19] BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/conservation/rhinos/intro.shtml

[20] World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/trade/faqs_rhino.cfm

[21] BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/conservation/rhinos/intro.shtml

[22] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/Portals/_target/Documents/SRI%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf

[23] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/Portals/_target/Documents/SRI%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf

[24] Save the Rhino International, http://www.worldwildlife.org/lectures/rhino2.cfm

[25] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/Portals/_target/Documents/SRI%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf

[26] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/536/default.aspx

[27] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/536/default.aspx

[28] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/736/default.aspx

[29] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/Portals/_target/Documents/SRI%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf

[30] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/540/default.aspx

[31] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/573/default.aspx

[32] Save the Rhino International, http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/site/771/default.aspx

[33] Trees For Cities, http://www.treesforcities.com/html/informationh/annualreport0304/

[34] the Wilderness Foundation UK, http://www.wildernessfoundation.org.uk/Page.asp?originx_348bv_83648401402518r54n_20072152329q

[35] 23red, http://www.23red.com/section7_0_0.html

[36] Southbank Centre, http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/about-southbank-centre/governors–board

[37] The League against Cruel Sports, http://www.league.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_277.pdf

WORKS CITED

23red. Getting in Touch. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.23red.com/section7_0_0.html>

BBC. Animals on the Edge Rhinos. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/ conservation/rhinos/>

Cornish, Jim. The Great Auk: An Extinct Species. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/ great_auk.pdf>

Merkl, Andreas et al. A Role for Effective, Efficient, and Equitable Conservation Concessions

in Conserving Natural Resources in Indonesia. 2003. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.cciforum.org/ pdfs/CCIF_Concession_Paper.pdf>

Save the Rhino International. About Us. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org/ eTargetSRINM/site/536/default.aspx>

Save the Rhino International. Annual Report of 2005-2006. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/Portals/_target/Documents/SRI%20Annual%20Report_web.pdf>

Save the Rhino International. Meet the Save the Rhino Atacama Crossing team! 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org/etargetsrinm/site/771/default.aspx>

Save the Rhino International. Our Staffs and Structure. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org/ eTargetSRINM/site/573/default.aspx>

Save the Rhino International. Our Support for Rhino and Community-based Conservation Projects. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org/eTargetSRINM/site/736/default.aspx>

Save the Rhino International. Rhino Info. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org/ eTargetSRINM/site/540/default.aspx>

Save The Rhino International. Save the Rhino. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.savetherhino.org>

Southbank Centre. Southbank Centre Governors / Board. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/about-southbank-centre/governors–board>

The California Biodiversity Council. What is Biodiversity? 7 Dec. 2007 <http://biodiversity.ca.gov/ Biodiversity/biodiv_def2.html>

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Ceratotherium Simum ssp. Simum – Near Threatened. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.iucnredlist.org/ search/details.php/39317/all>

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Diceros Bicornis ssp. Minor – Critically Endangered. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.iucnredlist.org/ search/details.php/39321/all>

The International Rhino Foundation. Rhinos in Crisis. 7 Dec. 2007 < http://www.rhinos-irf.org/rhinosincrisis/>

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. West African Black Rhino Feared Extinct. 2006. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.iucn.org/en/news/ archive/2006/07/7_pr_rhino.htm>

The League against Cruel Sports. Wild about Killing. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.league.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_277.pdf>

The World Wide  Fund Hong Kong. Fact Sheet. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.wwf.org.hk/ eng/pdf/references/factsheets/factsheet46.PDF>

Trees For Cities. Annual Report 03/04. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.treesforcities.com/ html/informationh/annualreport0304/>

Wilderness Foundation. Trustees. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.wildernessfoundation.org.uk/ Page.asp?originx_348bv_83648401402518r54n_20072152329q>

World Wildlife Fund. Lectures in Conservation – African Rhino Conservation. By Raoul du Toit. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.worldwildlife.org/lectures/rhino2.cfm>

World Wildlife Fund. Rhinoceros Trade. 7 Dec. 2007 <http://www.worldwildlife.org/ trade/faqs_rhino.cfm>


WATER CONSERVATION

September 22, 2007

By Thi Xuan Hieu Ngo

Vesalius College – Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Course: English for Academic Purpose-Short Paper

Professor Pamela Dalby

15 Sep. 2007

There are several ways to interpret the word “conservation”. However, one definition of conservation used in this paper is the act of preventing something from being lost, wasted, damaged or destroyed, according to the Oxford Dictionary for Advanced Learners. The specificity of conservation chosen in this paper is the conservation of natural resources. One of the most important natural resources that need to be conserved is fresh water. Because fresh water on Earth is strictly limited in quantity and its availability varies greatly in different regions and at different time, an ongoing and unrestricted expansion of water use would lead to severe water shortage. If fresh water is the most precious natural resource that supports human and nature survivals, it is clearly urgent to come up with effective water conservation plans to preserve, reuse and reclaim water and to initiate methodologies to ameliorate water resource management. This paper will examine concisely what water conservation means, why it is essential to put water conservation in practice and which water conservation measures can be applied.

Water conservation is to eliminate water waste and to maximize efficiency of water use. It is to diminish water demand during urgent severe period such as droughts, to decrease ultimate water utilization, to reduce cost of searching for new water resources, to preserve natural habitats, to establish and encourage the habit to reuse low-grade water and to support water demand while structuring better supply plans in long term.  (Regional Water System Management, Jay R. Lund et al, 2002, pp8). Water conservation must also be brought into coordination with the water supply system to forecast and mitigate severe water shortage in future (ibid).  The goal of water conservation is to make the best use of water to ensure the ongoing availability of water for future generations.

There is no doubt that water conservation is essential for several reasons. First of all, fresh water resources are strictly limited in nature. According to the U.S Geological Survey’s website, only 0.3% of total water on Earth is available for human consumption. And not only the survival of animals, plants and human but also a numerous purposes of producing electricity, cultivating crops, operating industrial units, serving household sanitation and drinking needs depend on this tiny percentage of fresh water.

Secondly, there is an increasing pressure on fresh water resources on Earth due to the burgeoning world population. Global water utilization has soared dramatically and water resources in many parts of the world are now strained to the utmost. To call attention to this expanding problem, the United Nations proclaimed 2003 to be The International Year of Freshwater. According to the U.N., if current tendencies proceed, “two out of every three people on earth will live in water-stressed conditions —moderate or severe water shortages— by the year 2025.. Globally, one in six people still have no regular access to safe drinking water, and more than twice that number (2.4 billion people) lack access to adequate sanitation facilities.”

If water is to be exploited immoderately to serve this burgeoning population, there will be a great number of adverse impacts on our society, economy, and environment. For example, more reservoirs must be constructed, thus ruining wild habitats. This is the case of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China that threatens the survival of the critically imperiled Chinese River Dolphin, Chinese Paddlefish and Siberian Crane in the river by polluting and fragmenting their habitats (Richard R. Wertz, www.ibiblio.org/chinesehistory/ ). In addition, water bodies such as rivers, wetlands, and bays are deteriorated by the water withdrawal at the high level and the polluted runoff that flows into them. Also, greater cost must involve in continuous preservation of the water infrastructure such as pipes, sewers, and treatment facilities. For instance, the American Water Works Association spends approximately US$27 billion every year to operate and maintain their facilities (Beverly Ingram, 2001, www.win-water.org/legislativecenter/ ). Finally, the excessive water extraction for agriculture is also responsible for salinity and desertification as the sea waters increase to the inlets and waterways to corrode the surroundings resulting from the fall in river flows. This is the case of the disappearing of the Indus river delta region in southern Pakistan due to the over water withdrawal of the River Indus upstream as sea intrusion has destroyed “more than 160 settlements, spread over 1.3m acres of delta since 1970” (BBC, 2007).

Another important reason to call for fresh water conservation is the increasing serious problems of water pollution. According to a Collaborative Survey of the Nation’s Streams on 1,392 random sites in the U.S conducted by The Wadeable Streams Assessment in 2004, the proportion of U.S. streams that meets the national standard is only 28% while up to 42% are in poor condition in addition to 25% are threatened (another 5% were not assessed). Two main sources responsible for contaminants entering waters are point sources and nonpoint sources (EPA Victoria website http://www.epa.vic.gov.au). It said point source were distinguishable inputs from industrial water discharge and sewage treatment plant entering particular water resources under specific permission by the state and therefore were controllable. In contrast, nonpoint sources are uncontrollable and come from urban land use i.e rainfall runoff from street surface, energy production and construction sites containing lubricants, oil, lead, toxic chemicals and sediments, agriculture land use i.e rainfall runoff containing superfluous manures, herbicides and insecticides and forest land use i.e rainfall runoff from forestry operation (ibid).

Water quality can also be adversely affected by bushfires, a quickly spreading fire in a large opening area resulted from a severe long drought (loc.cit). Bushfires can lead to sedimentation in streams through rainfall runoff and algal blooms through an increasing concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus. According to EPA publication 1061 The Health Of Streams In North-Eastern Victoria In The Three Years Following The 2003 Bushfires, over 1 million hectares in north-eastern Victoria was burnt leading to a great fall in river health from 65 percent of good condition sites to only 40 percent in the year after the fire while a significant increase in poor condition sites doubled from 16 percent to 30 percent.

Acknowledging the significance of water conservation, several water conservation practices have been implemented. First of all, these practices must be applied at individual level such as habit and awareness. It can be storing rainwater in small containers for home use such as planting, gardening and washing as well as eliminating wasteful use by using low grade water whenever possible, using low-consumption devices (toilets, showers, faucets, washing machines and dishwashers) and finding and plugging leaks. This practice can bring remarkable water savings. For example, according to American Water Works Association WaterWiser in 1997, recent estimates of indoor water use with conservation can save up to 19.9 liters per capita per day accounting for 33 percent of total indoor water use (Regional Water System Management, Jay R. Lund et al, 2002, pp134). Similarly, if low-flow showerhead replacement is carried out, the estimate of water savings in winter use is 7.2 gallons per capita per day (ibid).

Water conservation practices also need to be applied at larger scale of water audits, landscape efficiency, pressure management and recycling. For example, large landscape water audits can result in 10 to 20 percent reduction in end use, pressure-reducing valves accounts for 5-30 percent and cooling tower program contributes to 90 percent reduction (ibid, pp 136)

Another noteworthy water conservation practice is water reusing applied in industrial production, irrigation, air conditioning and cooling application, building and cleansing. Significant examples of efficient water reuse practice applied by the U.S communities are the city of St. Petersburg, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and the city of Tallahassee, Florida (ibid, pp 138). Certainly, water reuse and water conservation measures in general must be accompanied by improvement of technology and management techniques as well as national legislation such as the Energy Policy Act of 1992 on water efficiency standards in the U.S. Usually, legislation is a leading force for advancing technology, water production and management. For instance, drinking water facilities in the U.S must comply with the increasingly strict Safe Drinking Water Act and its Amendments in filtration of surface water and in maximum concentration of coliform and total trihalomethanes of from less than 100µg/l to 80 or even 60µg/l in the future (ibid, pp 141). Undoubtedly, in order to comply with the Act, the facilities have no choice but upgrade treatment plants and apply new improved methods of treatment through technology and management.

In conclusion, fresh water resources on Earth despite being limited and fragile undoubtedly play the arduous and leading role in nature and human survivals. Water conservation, therefore is a supporting tool for the strain of water demand on Earth. It is to prevent water pollution, water waste, water exploitation and water shortage by establishing habits and awareness, imposing legislation, improving water supply facilities and management, applying the latest technology. It is undoubted that water conservation can bring a remarkably optimistic outcome if it is appropriately put into practice.