Sun, Jan 16, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Academics urge tackling environmental problems

CNA , TAIPEI

Serious environmental deterioration in Taiwan was the prime concern for many scholars and environmentalists in a public hearing held Saturday, who urged the government to quickly tackle the problem.

They issued the warning at the hearing sponsored by the Council for Economic Planning and Development, pointing out that the problem is worsening at an alarming rate that will eventually take its toll on the people of Taiwan.

Chen Hung-yu (陳宏宇), a geology professor from National Taiwan University, said that the number of Taiwan rivers prone to mudslides and rockslides has surged to an astonishing 1,420 since the devastating Sept. 21, 1999 earthquake hit Taiwan, in particular central regions. Today, he noted, 655 of the country's dangerous rivers are in central Taiwan. There were only 485 such rivers around the country prior to 1996, with 134 in central regions, he added.

The worst quake to hit Taiwan in a century severely changed the country's topography, he said, pointing out that now only a third of the rainfall of the past average amounts before the 921 earthquake can easily trigger catastrophes anywhere in the country.

For instance, he explained, the more than 250,000 tons of debris brought down in just a few days by typhoon Mindulle in September last year was equal to a quarter of the total amount accumulated in the whole of the previous year.

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