Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why has China become a symbol of environmental pollution?

China is the world's biggest polluter and world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and the main reason why China has become a symbol for pollution is a rapid (but unsustainable) economic growth. To put it simply, China is sacrificing its environment to please its economy. Such policy is definitely bringing short-term economic benefits but is also doing huge environmental damage to one of world's largest countries.

China still doesn't know how to maintain its economic growth and stop environmental pollution in the same time. China's main interest is shoring up industrial growth, and if the environment has to pay the price then let it be it. But such policy can not survive for very long because China has already started losing valuable natural resources due to excessive water and air pollution.

Zhou Shengxian, the Minister of Environmental Protection of the People's Republic of China, recently warned that "the depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the deterioration of the environment have become serious bottlenecks constraining economic and social development."

China definitely needs new environmental policy despite the fact that this may somewhat slowdown China's industrial growth. Short-term damage to industry today is definitely a better option compared to huge long-term damage to both industry and environment in years to come, and this is exactly what will happen if China fails to act quickly.

The environmental pollution issue has so far been neglected in China's economic policy, and this is the main reason why according to the official government statistics nearly 20 percent of the length of China's monitored rivers and lakes had pollution worse than Grade 5, making the water officially unfit for even irrigating crops, let alone drinking. In many large Chinese cities air pollution is out of control, and things are not looking likely to improve any time soon.

China still fails to show the necessary political will to clean its air, rivers, and environment in general. Despite the huge investments into renewable energy coal is still a dominant energy source in China, and coal is the dirtiest fuel of them all.

China's ever improving economic standard means that today more people have access to cars which makes pollution far greater than ever before.

The environmental conscience is very slowly making its way into China's society, and many years will pass before China becomes synonym for green development, despite being the current leader in clean energy race.

And in the meantime China will remain a symbol for environmental pollution. A sad example of what humankind can do to nature.

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