Solutions to Difficult Problems Caused by the Complexity of Human–Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin: Based on the Perspective of Human–Water Relationship Discipline
2. The Historical Evolution and Complexity of Human—Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin
2.1. Overview of the Yellow River Basin
2.2. Ecological Evolution of the Yellow River Basin and Its Driving Factors
2.3. The Complexity and Evolution Stages of Human—Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin
- Low-level harmony stage. From the primitive society period to the early feudal society, the level of human productivity was low, and the impact on the water system was small. The water system plays an absolute leading role in human–water relationship, and this relationship in the Yellow River Basin is in a low-level harmony stage. At this stage, the human system and the water system adopt a simple interaction way. Humans have explored some measures to control the Yellow River. For example, Dayu used the method of channelization to dredge the Yellow River and divert floods, which alleviated the flood threat to some extent. However, due to the limitation of the level of productivity, human beings do not have the ability to resist the floods of the Yellow River. China’s millennia-long “Yellow River sacrifice” originated from this stage.
- Exploratory development stage. From the early stage of feudal society to the end of feudal society, social civilization and productivity in the Yellow River Basin continued to improve. The role of the human system in the human–water relationship is gradually increasing, and this relationship is in the stage of exploratory development. In this stage, the human system is more closely linked to the water system, which shows the ability to govern and develop the water system from shallow to deep. During the Western Han Dynasty, Jia Rang, a strategist for the governance of the Yellow River, proposed the “Three Strategies for River Management”, which advocated diversion and consolidation of dikes at the same time. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, Wang Jing, an expert in water conservancy, opened a new channel, which formed a flood route of the Yellow River with smooth water flow and strong sand transport capacity. Pan Jixun, an expert on river management in the Ming Dynasty, advocated “using embankments to restrain water and attacking sand with water”. This idea of water control had a profound impact on the subsequent governance of the Yellow River. Compared with the previous stage, the subjectivity of human system to water system has been fully developed in this stage. The complexity of human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin is deepening in the process of exploratory development.
- Dysfunctional deterioration stage. From the end of feudal society to the end of the 20th century. With the rapid development of industrial civilization, the effect of human system on water system is further enhanced. In addition, it occupies a dominant position in the human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin. However, it also brings a series of serious problems for the water system, and the human–water relationship is in the stage of dysfunctional deterioration. At this stage, the Yellow River Basin enters the peak demand for water resources utilization, and the intensity of human exploitation of water system is unprecedentedly high. However, the Yellow River has gradually entered a vicious circle of coexistence of floods and dry-flow, and deterioration of water ecology. In the 1970s, the Yellow River experienced a long-term dry up. In 1997, the Henan section of the Yellow River was cut off for 226 days, and the river ecosystem was on the verge of collapse. At the end of the 20th century, more than 70% of the Yellow River’s water body basically lost its ability to purify itself. Compared with the previous stage, the human system showed a predatory development trend for the water system in this stage. In addition, various conflicts among human–water system appeared successively. The human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin continues to deteriorate during this unsustainable development process.
- Protective coordination stage. From the end of the 20th century to the 2030s, with the change of river management ideas, the development and utilization mode of the Yellow River water resources has undergone a transition from “resource water conservancy” to “ecological water conservancy”. The human system began to pay attention to the protection of the water system, the contradiction among human–water system has been alleviated to a certain extent. In addition, the human–water relationship is in the stage of protective coordination. A series of water disasters at the end of the 20th century provided new impetus for coordinating human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin. After entering the 21st century, the Chinese government has taken many effective measures to regulate human–water relationship. In 2001, human–water harmony was formally incorporated into China’s modern water conservancy system . In 2013, the State Council of China approved the “Comprehensive Plan for the Yellow River Basin (2012–2030)”, which clearly requires the human–water harmony, and the comprehensive maintenance of the healthy life of the Yellow River. In 2019, the ecological protection and high-quality development in the Yellow River Basin officially became China’s major national strategy, opening a new chapter for the human–water relationship. Compared with the previous stage, the human system in this stage presents a protective development state to the water system. Under the subjective regulation of the human system, the human–water relationship has been greatly improved. According to the current development trend, by the 2030s, the human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin will basically achieve preliminary coordination. However, there are still many difficult problems to be solved.
- High-quality harmony stage. With reference to two important documents, “Comprehensive Plan for the Yellow River Basin (2012–2030)” and “Outline of the Plan for Ecological Protection and High-Quality Development in the Yellow River Basin”, 2030 is regarded as the dividing point between the high-quality harmony stage and the protective coordination stage. After the 2030s, the utilization and protection of water resources in the Yellow River will change from “ecological water conservancy” to “intelligent water conservancy”. The human system will be able to carry out the development and protection of the Yellow River Basin under the premise of protecting the health of water system. The contradiction between human and water will be basically resolved, and the human–water relationship is in a high-quality harmony stage. Compared with the previous stage, human beings will be able to make full use of modern information technology to carry out water resource utilization and protection work. The theory, methodology and application of human–water relationship discipline will also accumulate fruitful results. Based on rich experience in water resources utilization and protection, supported by advanced information and cyberspace technology, and guided by the principle and methodology of human–water relationship discipline, the traditional difficult problems of human–water relationship will be gradually solved. The Yellow River Basin will realize the harmonious coexistence between human system and water system.
3. Difficult Problems in Dealing with Human—Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin
3.1. Difficult Problems Caused by the Complexity of Human—Water Relationship
3.2. Demonstration of the West Route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project
3.3. Water Distribution of the Yellow River
3.4. Construction of Large Water Conservancy Projects
3.5. Flood and Drought Disaster Prevention and Control
4. Solutions to Difficult Problems Caused by the Complexity of Human—Water Relationship: Human—Water Relationship Discipline
4.1. Overview of the Proposition and Main Contents of Human—Water Relationship Discipline
- The research object of human–water relationship discipline. The research object of the discipline is very clear, that is, the human–water system.
- The basic principles of human–water relationship discipline. The basic principle is the interpretation to the basic laws of the interaction and evolution of the human–water system. According to the internal function relationship of the human–water system, the basic principles of the human–water relationship discipline are summarized, including the human–water relationship interaction principle, human–water system balance transfer principle, and adaptive principle of the human–water system.
- The theoretical bases of human–water relationship discipline. Human–water relationship is an interdisciplinary discipline involving water science, sociology, economics, systems science and many other disciplines. Most of the theories and methods from the above disciplines can be applied to the research of human–water relationship discipline. Therefore, these theories are also the theoretical bases of human–water relationship discipline. In addition, there are some theories specifically proposed for the research of human–water relationship. For instance, human–water harmony theory, human–water system theory, human–water game theory, and human–water relationship process theory, etc.
- The methodology of human–water relationship discipline. The representative methodology of hydrology, water resources, water environment, water security, water engineering, water economics, water law, water information, as well as sociology, economics, systems science and other disciplines can be applied to the research of human–water relationship. In addition, there are some methods specially proposed for the research of human–water relationship. For instance, human–water relationship identification method, harmony assessment method, human–water relationship simulation method, harmony regulation method, etc.
- The application practices of human–water relationship science. Human–water relationship discipline is a subject with wide application. Its representative application practices include: ➀ Analyze the role of human activities on water systems and assess the impact of human activities. ➁ Analyze the restrictive effect of the water system on human development, and evaluate the carrying capacity of water system. ➂ Establish a simulation model of human–water relationship and analyze the evolution trend of human–water system. ➃ Construct a support system for the human–water relationship, respond to water issues, and develop water strategies.
4.2. Solutions to Difficult Problems in the Yellow River Basin Based on the Perspective of Human—Water Relationship Discipline
- Demonstration of the west route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Combined with the simulation method of human–water relationship, it should be simulated and demonstrated from both positive and negative aspects based on the interaction principle of human–water relationship. Forming two academic camps and forming a consensus through discussion will help the government to make more scientific decisions. Based on the thinking of human–water game theory, analyze and demonstrate from a global perspective, and avoid making decisions when the depth of the argument is insufficient.
- Water distribution of the Yellow River. Based on the adaptive principle of human–water system, combined with the harmony assessment method, consider the dynamic adaptability of regional human–water system. Then formulate the water distribution calculation method and process, and determine the water distribution of the Yellow River. Based on the human–water system theory to establish the idea of harmonious water distribution, and to ensure the stability of various ecological functions of the water system and realize the harmonious coexistence of human and nature. Coordinate the relationship between different water-using areas and the relationship between water resources carrying and economic development, so as to promote the harmonious development of the human–water system in the Yellow River Basin.
- Construction of large water conservancy projects. To follow the principle of balance transfer of human–water system, and strive to make the human–water system to the benign direction. The construction of large-scale water conservancy projects will inevitably bring about changes in the river water ecosystem, and it is necessary to regulate and demonstrate that the transformed system is acceptable. Based on the theory of human–water harmony, combined with harmonious regulation method, adhere to the concept of harmonious coexistence between man and nature to scientific demonstration and regulation. Encourage some people to stand in the perspective of nature and have a dialogue with engineering demonstrators.
- Flood and drought disaster prevention and control. Learn to deal with floods and droughts from the principle of harmonious evolution of human–water relationship. Based on the concept of human–water system theory, combined with harmonious regulation method, build an integrated disaster prevention and relief system. Flood and drought disaster prevention is a systematic project. First of all, the hardware capacity should be improved. Secondly, the popular science education of flood control and drought relief should be strengthened. Finally, a disaster prevention and relief system of “government command, department leadership, and public participation” should be formed.
4.3. A Case Study on the Water Distribution of the Yellow River from the Perspective of Human—Water Relationship Discipline
4.3.1. The Necessity of Further Research on the Water Distribution
4.3.2. The Ideology and Principle of the Water Distribution
4.3.3. The Formulation and Calculation of the Water Distribution Scheme
- Water is allocated according to the original water distribution scheme. The original water distribution scheme (The “87” scheme) is based on expert’s argumentation and comprehensive coordination, which has high reference value.
- Water is allocated according to the current water use pattern and considering the future water demand. This criterion is more realistic and effective in alleviating water shortage and waste. This is also a common method of water distribution in transboundary rivers. The calculation method is as follows :
- Water is allocated according to the proportion of the actual population. Population is one of the main indicators that affect and even determine the scale of water use. This criterion is to allocate water according to the population of each region under the condition of ensuring the ecological protection of the Yellow River. The calculation method is as follows :
- Water is allocated according to the proportion of regional GDP. GDP is an important indicator to characterize the scale of regional economic development. Considering the needs of regional production and development, water can be allocated according to the proportion of regional GDP. The calculation method is as follows :
- Water is allocated in proportion to the area of the basin in each region. In order to reflect the contribution of different regions to water production in the basin, it is reasonable and fair to use basin area or water production ratio to divide the water. The calculation method is as follows :
- Water is allocated according to the maximum overall harmony degree (HD). The water distribution of the Yellow River should adhere to the idea of harmonious water distribution. The harmony evaluation method in the human–water relationship discipline is adopted. Water is allocated reasonably according to factors such as water use, geographical location, and per capita water consumption so as to achieve the maximum overall harmony degree. The calculation method is as follows :
4.3.4. The Result and Analysis of the New Water Distribution Scheme
5. Possibility and Prospect of Applying the Human—Water Relationship Discipline to the Research of Complex Basins
5.1. Feasibility Analysis of Human—Water Relationship Discipline Applied to Other Complex Basins
- Feasibility analysis of the application of human–water relationship discipline in the Yangtze River Basin. The Yangtze River is the largest river in China and has an important strategic position in China’s regional coordinated development pattern. However, the problems of water ecology and water environment in the Yangtze River Basin are very prominent, which seriously restricts the development quality of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. From the perspective of the human–water relationship discipline, the emergence of the above problems represents that the interaction of the human–water relationship has entered a vicious circle. The human system blindly pursues “me as the center” without considering that destroying the water system will also put pressure on the development of the human system. Based on the thinking of human–water harmony theory, using the method of harmony identification to judge the state of the human–water relationship. Moreover, combining the method of harmony regulation to improve the interaction of the human–water system can alleviate the disharmony between ecological protection and economic development in the Yangtze River Basin to a certain extent.
- Feasibility analysis of the application of human–water relationship discipline in the Nile River Basin. The Nile is the most famous international river in Africa. Due to historical reasons and development needs, water disputes among different countries are the most prominent problems . From the perspective of human–water relationship discipline, the contradiction between water supply and ecological problems of Nile River, similar to the problem of water distribution of Yellow River, is caused by the contradiction of water use between nature and humans and the contradiction of water use between different regions. It is necessary to actively explore a win-win water distribution method based on the principle of human–water system adaptability, combined with the idea of human–water system theory. On the premise of ensuring the stability of the ecological function of the basin, the harmonious development of the relationship between humans and water, between regions, and between countries should be realized.
- Feasibility analysis of the application of human–water relationship discipline in the Mississippi River Basin. The Mississippi River is the largest river in North America and the most valuable river in the United States. However, in the past hundred years, floods have occurred frequently in the lower reaches of the river . The U.S. government’s early “flood control” strategy based on large-scale construction of embankments did not work well. The problem of flood management is the biggest human–water relationship problem on the Mississippi River. With the popularization of the idea of human–water harmony, the flood control measures for the river in the United States have changed from “mainly engineering measures” to “combining engineering and non-engineering measures”. The principle of harmonious evolution of the human–water relationship has been embodied in the flood control of the Mississippi River. When dealing with flood and drought disasters, we should not blindly pursue “control”, but conform to the natural law of disaster, and use diversified means to achieve harmonious coexistence with floods.
5.2. Prospect for Future Research on Human—Water Relationship Discipline
- Prospect of theory research. ➀ Extensive integration of multidisciplinary theories to further strengthen the theoretical foundation of human–water relationship research. For example, the integration of water cycle theory and social theory, the integration of water environment theory and life and health theory, and the integration of water resources theory and value theory in economics. ➁ Further carry out theoretical research on the human–water relationship and form the theoretical characteristics. For example, human–water harmony theory, human–water system theory, human–water relationship process theory, etc.
- Prospect of method research. ➀ Promote the cross-application of multidisciplinary methods. Due to the complexity of the human–water relationship, the research on the cross-application of multidisciplinary methods needs to be strengthened. ➁ In-depth research of the identification method, evaluation method, and regulation method of the human–water relationship. The construction and solution of the harmony regulation model and the development of the regulation system are the key points of the method system of human–water relationship discipline.
- Prospect of applied research. ➀ Further research of the simulation model of the human–water relationship and apply it to the analysis and control of the evolution trend of the human–water relationship. ➁ Further apply the regulation method of human–water relationship to the practice of water resource planning, management, and dispatching. ➂ Further research the support system of the human–water relationship and apply it to the response to water problems and the formulation of water strategies.
- River diversion and irrational human activities are the main driving factors for the ecological evolution of the Yellow River Basin. The evolution process of human–water relationship in the basin can be basically divided into five stages: low-level harmony stage, exploratory development stage, dysfunctional deterioration stage, protective coordination stage and high-quality harmony stage. The current human–water relationship is at protective coordination stage. With the progress of concept and technology, the difficult problems of human–water relationship will be gradually overcome, and the human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin will enter a high-quality harmony stage.
- The complexity of the human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin brings many difficult problems. For example, the demonstration of the west route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, the water distribution problem of the Yellow River, the construction of large water conservancy projects, and the prevention and control of flood and drought disasters, etc. Forming a sound disciplinary system of the human–water relationship and the corresponding theory and method system is the key to breaking through these difficult problems of the human–water relationship.
- Since the development of the human–water relationship discipline, it has basically possessed a clear research object, specific basic principles, a relatively complete theory system, a set of methodology, and extensive application practice. The four difficult problems of the human–water relationship in the Yellow River Basin can be solved from the perspective of the human–water relationship discipline. The new water distribution scheme of the Yellow River based on the human–water relationship discipline is a suitable fit with the current water utilization pattern.
- In addition to the Yellow River Basin, other typical river basins also have different degrees of human–water relationship problems. The theory and method system of the human–water relationship discipline is also feasible and universal for the research of other complex basins such as the Yangtze River Basin, the Nile River Basin, and the Mississippi River Basin. As an emerging discipline that takes human–water systems as its research object, the human–water relationship discipline has outstanding advantages in solving the difficult problems of human–water relationship science. However, it is still in the preliminary development stage, and its theory, methodology, and application research need to be further enriched.
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Water Distribution Scheme||Qinghai||Sichuan||Gansu||Ningxia||Inner Mongolia||Shanxi||Shaanxi||Henan||Shandong||Hebei||Weight|
|Water Distribution Scheme||Qinghai||Sichuan||Gansu||Ningxia||Inner Mongolia||Shanxi||Shaanxi||Henan||Shandong||Total||Weight|
|Comparison with the “87” scheme||+1.37||+0.69||+2.41||−6.97||+0.4||−1.42||+9.46||−0.09||+4.39||−10.24||0|
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Zuo, Q.; Zhang, Z.; Ma, J.; Li, J. Solutions to Difficult Problems Caused by the Complexity of Human–Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin: Based on the Perspective of Human–Water Relationship Discipline. Water 2022, 14, 2868. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182868
Zuo Q, Zhang Z, Ma J, Li J. Solutions to Difficult Problems Caused by the Complexity of Human–Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin: Based on the Perspective of Human–Water Relationship Discipline. Water. 2022; 14(18):2868. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182868Chicago/Turabian Style
Zuo, Qiting, Zhizhuo Zhang, Junxia Ma, and Jiawei Li. 2022. "Solutions to Difficult Problems Caused by the Complexity of Human–Water Relationship in the Yellow River Basin: Based on the Perspective of Human–Water Relationship Discipline" Water 14, no. 18: 2868. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14182868