Increasing Moral Standards is Essential to Keeping Living Creatures Thriving on Earth

Tong Zhou, Yi Li

PureInsight | January 30, 2003

Westerners are told in Genesis 1 of the Christian Bible, "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth;" and the Chinese are told the legend that Pangu "brought order out of chaos by chiseling things of nothing, and chiseled first earth, then…." We understand that the fundamental principle behind both legends, as to how the universe was created, is no different for Westerners than for Chinese. Both legends tell us clearly that heaven and earth were created specifically for human beings.

In fact, the legends tell the true mystery of the universe. It tells us that everything was created for the existence of mankind. Creation included the green mountains, the blue brooks, woods, the grasslands, the roads, the streets, the towns and the cities. Thousands of birds and hundreds of animals can be found in the mountains, thousands of fish swim in the water, and there is plenty of food on earth to feed everyone. All was created solely for human beings' enjoyment, survival, and improvement. However, we must emphasize that this is a privilege and not a given right. Humans are granted the opportunity to be the master of the earth. But, in return, humans must adhere to certain moral standards. It is important to always remember that to be human is a privilege that brings with it certain responsibilities, such as adherence to moral standards. Should humans disregard the universal principles and the laws that have created life, ignore the nurturing of moral values, commit bad deeds and fail to follow moral standards, reckoning will follow. Thus, we have to remember that a cause will have its effect. Humans will no longer be allowed to live as humans. Human existence is thus threatened and earth will no longer shelter them.

Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong said: "If people lose De (virtue), there will be many disasters. If the earth loses De, everything will die" (Essentials for Further Advancement· Fa Rectification). Throughout history one can find many examples of disasters after humankind has degenerated. Even today, many disasters point out to humans that they cannot disobey the universal laws.

1. Lessons to be learned from historical events that occurred thousands of years ago

About 4000 BCE, a people called the Sumerians moved into Mesopotamia and supplanted the Semites and Ubaidians. The Sumerians were highly civilized and so built a thriving civilization. The Sumerians were highly advanced and invented the earliest known hieroglyphic form of writing, developed a number system, understood astronomy, including knowledge about the planets and the universe, and enjoyed literature. For example, they were able to estimate the speed of rotation of the moon with within 0.4-second of today's calculated value. Furthermore, the Sumerians had a standardized number system, based on a "sexagesimal" (number 60) system while our present day system is based on a "decimal" (number 10) system. The Sumerians could thus calculate very high numbers with up to 15 digits.

The Sumerians appear also to have had an extensive agricultural system due to the fertility of the soil and the development of sophisticated irrigation systems. Such techniques increase groundwater salinization, water pollution and soil erosion over time. Consequently, the Sumerians found that food supplies became scarcer and there was not sufficient to feed the people. The reason for that was the salt that had built up in the soil of the agricultural lands, which eventually reached poisonous levels for plants. Basically, the salt in the soil absorbed the water and prevented the plants from getting water from the soil. The crop yields decreased progressively and many of agricultural fields became infertile.

The Sumerians had to develop new farmlands to compensate for the reductions in yield of the crops on their farms. One method they employed was deforestation. As time went on, the same problems occurred. As salt accumulated on the farmland, once again new farmlands had to be found. Over time they exhausted all the available land and growth was stymied. Within three centuries the accumulated salt reduced the yield of crops by 40%. Given the failing crops, food supplies decreased. Yet the population continued to grow, but the rulers could no longer retain as many soldiers, civil servants and priests. Historical records indicate that the agricultural system collapsed in 1800 B.C. Thus, the once great civilization became history.

Lake Luobupo is a dried-up lake of 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) in the southwest frontier of China. It is located on the south foot of Mt. Tianshan, in the hinterland of Xinjiang Uygur province, at the edge of Takelamagan Desert, and across from Talimu valley. One can see from satellite pictures that Lake Luobupo is a vast sandy area, with salt pockets. Historical records and excavations tell us that during the second century BC a bustling town, the ancient city of Loulan, which thrived for over 800 years, was located northwest of Lake Luobupo. Loulan was the capital of Loulan Province and an essential city on the "silk road." Given its importance to the economy at that time, Loulan had a large population, especially merchants and other businessman. Now the prosperity of those old days can be found only through excavations and be seen as if in a dream!

Lake Luobupo was also known as Luopozuoer Lake, which is Mongolian and means a lake full of water. It was a low land, and thus became a basin for water, the Talimu Basin in Xinjiang province. Many rivers flowed into the lake, such as the Shule River on the east side, and Tarim River, Peacock River and Cherchen River on the west side. As indicated in the Records of Mountains and Oceans of the early Qin Dynasty, Lake Luobupo was called "Young Lake". According to Hanshu, the lake still covered "three hundred square li (463.2 square miles)" during the 1st century, " and the water level of the lake did not change from summer to winter." According to historical records, the earliest Silk Road was along the north shore of Lake Luobupo and along the old course of the Peacock River. Later on, the Silk Road was relocated to the south shore of the lake. It is said that the area along the Silk Road was densely populated, and that many business and other people lived there. Excavation showed that eastern and western cultures lived side by side. The earliest record of Loulan City can be found in Shiji by Sima Qian and it reads as follows, "Loulan City and Gushi City were surrounded by city walls and both were located at a salt lake". It was said that jadestones could be found in the vicinity of Loulan and along the lakeshore were many reeds, willows, miniature poplar trees and white grass. It appears that nomadic people may have lived also in that area, as they generally live near water, where they could find grass to feed and water to drink for their horses, donkeys, and camels. What really happened to the city, no one knows, but records tell that Loulan "disappeared mysteriously" after 700 A.D. When Marco Polo reached that area in 1224 A.C., he found only sand and the city buried in the desert. He saw no living creatures, but only tons of yellow sand.

It is true that historically significant areas have disappeared everywhere around the globe due to some tragic event or other. Many civilizations disappeared because the land became too barren, desolate and inhospitable for life.

2. Misuse of scarce resources

It is common knowledge that humans have exploited nature throughout the centuries, and it is still continuing even today. The environment is getting worse daily. Erosion of farmlands is a continuing event and modern civilization is threatened. Even the layman understands that urban sprawl causes the loss of productive agricultural lands, since many new cities were and are built on farmland. For example, more than half of America's farm products are from rural towns located close to cities. Some farmlands close to cities are very productive. In America, 18% of farmlands are recognized as major croplands, and 7% of the major US croplands are located within 50 miles of metropolitan areas. It is a known fact that land on which roads were constructed that were covered with asphalt can not be used again for farming. Misuse of productive farmlands often means contamination and thus they could present permanent losses of agricultural resources.

Maybe the most significant loss of land can be found in Mainland China. Since 1991, China's economy has grown every year by two digits. An analysis of loss of farmland was conducted. Although, this analysis of loss of useable farmlands is not completed, the preliminary results are shocking. Official land use statistics indicate that about 650 million hectares, or 5% of actual productive farmland, was used for purposes other than farming during the years between1987 and 1991. No information was provided about what two thirds of these lands were used for. They may have been used for growing illegal plants or for some other illegal purpose. The official explanation is that 40% of those 650 million hectares were actually set aside for public projects, industries and building expansion. Let's speculate that the land used for unknown purposes was also used for public projects. Then over 260 hectares of farmlands were used for, let's assume city construction within those 6 years, that is, the average rate of land loss was about 433 thousands hectares per year. From 1987 to 1992, mainland China also designated new farmlands. However, the net loss of farmlands was still enormous - about 387 million hectares. At the same time the yield of crops on 15 million hectares in China decreased. It was estimated that the net loss of crop production would have fed 45 million Chinese people. The net loss of land is significant when compared to the potential of continued development in China. Experts estimated that Mainland China could still redirect more usable farmland for other purposes, but no more than 100 thousand hectares, which is less than 8% of current usable farmland. However, the potential cost is prohibitive. If the loss rate from 1987 to 1992 continues, the possible loss could be exorbitant and deplete agricultural resources within 15 years.

The farmlands in mainland China and India were mainly destroyed because of the need for roads for motor vehicles. There were only about 2 million autos in mainland China in 1995, i.e., less than 1% of the number of cars in the United States. But it is predicted that the number of cars will increase to 22 million by 2010. Thus, much productive land will be used to build highway networks, rural and city streets, parking lots and gas stations. Such misuse of the limited agricultural land will be detrimental to China.

Growing populations will require additional land use. Thus, urbanization is another threat to farmlands. It was predicted that, by 2000, about half of the world's population would be living in cities. Continued urbanization will most likely mean more loss of productive farmland. Assuming that 0.05 hectares of land are used for each city resident in developing countries, urbanization will consume 50 million hectares of land by 2010.

However, the greatest threat to productive farmland is not quite as noticeable as construction. It is land erosion. As discussed earlier, farmland will corrode for a number of reasons, such as too much irrigation. Fertilization will wear out the soil over time as it fosters soil acidity, wind erosion, salinization and waterlogging of irrigated soils. Such damage to productive farmland can be found widely in both industrial and developing nations. As land erosion is not that noticeable, the harm it causes is generally taken too lightly. History should have taught us a valuable lesson. Why did the Sumerian civilization disappear 3800 years ago? Why did the Mayan civilization cease to exist in the 9th century? We know that one of the reasons was the loss of productive farmlands.

In 1991, the United Nations undertook a study. It was concluded that, globally, around 552 million hectares of farmlands, almost 38% of today's farmland, have been contaminated to a certain degree, due to incorrect techniques since World War II. Actually, this study may have underestimated the scope of the contamination worldwide. In 1994, a study on south Asia pointed out that prior local studies on loss or contamination of lands was 10% higher than that reported by the Unite Nations.

Such negative factors as erosion do decrease the productivity of farmlands. The United Nations study indicates that severely eroded and contaminated land accounted for more than 15% of the total affected farmlands globally. The total area of affected farmlands amounted to 86 million hectares, almost twice the area of all the farmland in Canada.

3. Cultivating de is essential

Today's people prefer living in an urban environment. It appears that they repeat mistakes from centuries ago. Haven't we pointed to similar living arrangements and their consequences earlier on? Humans still ignore lessons from the disappearance of prior civilizations. They still do not take into consideration the land that sustains life. When surface soil, which is full of organic and inorganic substances, nutritional essentials, insects, microbes and other elements is destroyed because of modern construction, cars, and chemicals, and when the global environment increasingly worsens, civilization is in grave danger.

On the surface, it seems that, for example, land erosion and contamination come from human generated factors. Factors include the population explosion that lead to urbanization, excessive food consumption and deforestation. Yet, isn't the true reason for the adverse effects on the environment that human moral standards have deteriorated? Since the advent of modern science, people have become less and less respectful of the universal principles. Rationality is replaced with selfishness. People have become greedy and indulge themselves. I could go on to describe more of the human degeneration. Isn't it the gods' rule that one must return what one has received? Human beings must pay for the abuse of lands. In order to control their excessive demands, people must cultivate moral standards. As human moral standards improve and the downslide is reversed, the gods will show their benevolence and the earth will recover. Upholding moral standards is the foundation for protecting lands from erosion and contamination. Only thus will civilization continue forever.

State of the World, a report on global environment, L.R. Brown, 1998.

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