In history, no country has attained the status of industrial power without avoiding damages done to the environment that take dozens of years and a big part of the country’s wealth for their rehabilitation. But China’s access to such a statute is so fast and so wide that there is no precedent in history, and therefore, the pollution problems caused exploded the previous records. The environmental degradation is now so serious and has implications both nationally and internationally, that pollution causes not only long-term burden on the population but also a complex political challenge.
And it is not obvious that China can control its own economic weight. Public health is in agony. The environmental difficulties that would be considered as catastrophic in some countries seem commonplace in China’s industrial cities where people rarely see the sun. Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a veil of a toxic grey, the smog. Only 1% of the 600 million urban Chinese breathe clean air according to the standards of the European Union.
China is a victim of its own success. The economy is engaged in a historic race, with huge growth rates. But this growth derives, now more than ever before, following a dazzling expansion of the heavy industry and the urbanization that requires colossal energy consumption. And this energy is drawn almost exclusively from coal, the source of energy more accessible but also more polluting. Wang Jinnan, one of the best Chinese environmental scientists said: “The situation is very difficult for the country because our greatest successes are also our biggest problems,” adding: “It is urgent to change our direction, but many refuse to admit that we need a new approach so soon. ”
The problem of China became the world’s problem. As we will see later the issue is not only national but global now. Chinese leaders recognize they must change the philosophy of time Teng Xiaoping advocated “growth first” they know they must adopt a new model to moderate growth at the same time that environmental protection. The Government has set specific targets for reducing emissions. In one of his speeches, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has used 48 times the terms “environment”, “pollution” or “environmental protection”. This might suggest that important initiatives are under way.
The traditional Chinese philosophy advocates a fundamental balance between Heaven and Earth through the mediation of human good, a wise old man, who would practice constantly, his sense of “balance”. The purpose of this essay is to know if the traditional thinking will resist against the devastating pressure of globalisation? Firstly I will give some information about why I chose China. Then the essay will analyse the background information on China’s economic and environmental situation but also its scale and longevity. We will continue with the danger and impacts expected. After that, we will focus on what are the possible solutions, the impact it might have, what this solutions can generate and what are the possible barriers. Also, we will show the relation of China pollution with other environmental issues. And finally I will talk about my place in this problem, what can I do, how can I influence it.
I have chosen to focus my essay on China, for the simple reason that it is the most polluting countries in the world. As mentioned in the introduction, China is still a developing country but it is also the fastest growing country in the world and this will have big consequences on the environment. China has entered its highest stage of its industrial revolution, even though the outside world is concerned more and more of global warming.
Because of its large size, the consequences are not only limited to local conditions but quickly became global. The growth of the People’s Republic of China is alarming that is why it is important that the country takes part in international action is the only way to ameliorate things. The way China manage its growth with combating the pollution can be an example for others developing countries facing similar problems.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, China began a real transformation. Its necessary industrial and urban development has not failed to produce adverse effects on natural and human environment. There are several causes. Coal consumption is a major cause for the emission of greenhouse gas emissions, but the major urban works have an important part in the high rate of suspended particles (3 to 5 times the World Health Organisation standards in rural urban). Of course we must also take into account the domestic pollution. We have to know that the population of China is in excessive number since 1962, births are always increasing, forcing the government since 1992, to adopt a drastic population strategy: The One Child policy.
The objective is to stabilize the population around 1.3 billion by 2050. This large population leads to a sharp increase in car park in China, over 1 million vehicles in Beijing and 900 000 in Shanghai(1999), degradation of urban air has increased. The poverty is a real fact, sixty four percent of Chinese live in rural areas. The improvement of agricultural productivity even slower in comparison with productivity gains in other sectors, condemns millions of rural unemployment or underemployment. However the main cause is the arrival of a “socialized market economy” and the entry into globalisation.
During the last 25 years China has changed a lot, there were a de-collectivisation of agriculture, the state-owned enterprises lost state ownership and amongst the most important for China’s development: allowance for privatisation and foreign investments. Above all that with the sixth of the world population, China is developing high need for primary energy (primarily provided by coal power plants), food and industrial products.
The pollution problem extends throughout China, but particularly on the coasts where there are major cities full of industries. Moreover the problem has exceeded the national scale. On a planetary scale, atmospheric circulation carrying pollution to the East, threatening the well-being of the countries neighbouring China, the North America and even Europe. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by coal power plants in China fall as acid rain on Seoul and Tokyo. Part of the pollution in Los Angeles has its origins in China, as mentioned the ‘Journal of Geophysical Research’. It is not easy to assess the longevity of this problem, this phenomenon exists already since many years and has steadily increased. Given all these problems, China has been struggling against pollution, but nothing is sure regarding the total resolution of the issue.
There are many consequences due to the enormous pollution. They can be separated into two points, the first referring to the impact on the environment. The first visible impact is on air pollution. The air quality in China is very problematic, especially in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Moreover, the air pollution is increasingly important because of sandstorms, the air quality, already poor, deteriorated sharply. In fact, sandstorms carry fine particles along from the western and northern China generating a thick fog over the city increases the particle concentration while inhibiting the escape of pollutants.
One other result is biodiversity losses, China is a country with a biodiversity among the richest in the world. The country provides an habitat for wildlife and unique wild flora, including giant pandas, already struggling against extinction. More than 300 animal species and 410 varieties of plants are now endangered because of habitat loss – a figure expected to rise over the next five years. Also cropland losses is estimated at one fifth of agricultural land since 1949 due to soil erosion. Deforestation is accelerating, which promotes more floods and deserts, which already cover 27% of Chinese territory, growing at a rate of 2 460 km per year.
Desertification threatens to uproot a number increasingly growing of residents from their habitats and their economic resources. It also generate disappearing wetlands and grassland degradation. And there are many other consequences like depleted fisheries, the increase frequency of natural disasters, overgrazing, interrupted river flow, soil salinity, trash accumulation, shortages and of course the water pollution but we will talk about it later. The seacoast is so invaded by the red tides of algae, that a broad part of the ocean no longer allow the underwater life.