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Environmental Pollution An Incurable Disease

“Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented” (Barry Commoner). It is hard to doubt the fact that China has a pollution problem. Out of the twenty most populated cities in the world, sixteen of them are Chinese (Wagstaff, para. 1). Today, Modern China is a fast paced and highly industrialized nation. With its high population and large amount of work force, there is a large need for energy. There are currently 240 million cars on the street and counting. Not to mention 70% of China's energy needs are met by the burning of coal (Wagstaff, para. 2). The amount of pollution raises everyday and there seems to be no solution. In 2013 the amount of pollution grew 8.1% (Mead, para. 7) and this pollution only bring negative effects. The increasing amount of pollution in urban China is slowing the country's growth and productivity. With all the toxins in the air there is a major economical impact, the living conditions are unhealthy, and the Chinese citizens are outraged.

As the pollution gets worse these effects will only increase. With China on the rise to being a world superpower it seems as though negative economic effects have only come out the pollution. These setbacks are unnecessary and only act as obstacles for China. In 2013, Chinese officials demanded that construction and factories come to a stop until air quality gets better. They closed 54 factories and 28 construction sites. One of these was the Hyundai Motor Company (Mead, para. 5). At no point is slowing down or stopping a factory beneficial to these powerful companies. Production, time, and money are all lost when this happens. That is not the only time money was lost because of pollution. In 2013, major Chinese cities spent a total of 1.08 billion dollars towards pollution (Mead, para. 8). These costs are mostly towards building sewage plants and dredging rivers. This is a large number and a hard one to ignore. This large amount of money could go towards other causes but it was instead used towards the pollution problem. The large amount of pollutants in the air affects many industries. One that got hit the hardest was tourism.

The amount of tourism in Beijing has dropped 50% over the years (Mead, Para. 4). This a major hit to the industry and one that affects China’s economy as a whole. The future for China’s pollution doesn't look too great either from an economical perspective. According to the Committee on Energy Futures and Air Pollution In Urban China and the United States, by 2020 13% of China’s GDP will be devoted toward health care involved with pollution (pg. 6). GDP is basically a number used to rank the health of a country’s economy. To devote 13% of their GDP for health care means that this pollution is glowing down the countries growth at a major level. With all this time and money going towards this crisis just shows the major economical impact that this pollution has. This unnecessary amount of time and money only shows that the growth of China is slowing due to the growth of pollution. To live in a country that, at times, has visibility at 10 meters seems like a hard task to do. It’s what many citizens do everyday.

The deadly amount of pollutants in the air makes China filled with many unhealthy living conditions. It is so bad that in 2010 1.2 million premature deaths were caused by pollution (Wagstaff, para. 3). These deaths are at the hand of the government. Another issue that arises with pollution is the respiratory effects. Lung cancer rates have climbed 456% in China over the past three decades (Wagstaff, para. 3). The amount of smoking hasn’t climbed and even if it did it wouldn’t have as big an impact of the living conditions. The Chinese citizens that can’t afford to move are living with this everyday. As of this year in northeast China, 500 million people’s lives will be shortened by an average of 5.5 years (Wagstaff, para. 3).

This number proves that China is barely livable for citizens. When there are deaths, cancer rates that skyrocket, and lives being shortened there is only negative effects, which come out of this. When a citizen comes home they want to breath clean air and drink clean water. Is a country expected to prosper when it citizens cannot even live there? But when looking at a general perspective there is only one reason living condition have to be livable, its citizen. With China’s high population the Chinese government tries to keep a tight grasp on it citizens. The problem is that now the citizens are starting to get outraged by these living conditions and they want their voices to be heard. One of the biggest groups speaking out are the parents. Because studies relate breathing air pollution at young ages to autism, depression, and long term lung damage, parents are starting to question their living in China (Wagstaff, para. 5). All parents want the best for their kids and are willing to fight for that.

That is what the parents are doing. As a Chinese radio host says, “Our requirements aren’t high. We just want clean food, clean water, and clean air” (Guo Yazhou). Yet these need aren’t met. That is why in June of 2013, after the citizens were informed of how bad the air really was, surgical masks and cans of clean air sold out fast (Hua, para. 4). The citizens feel as though they should not have to buy these masks in the first place. According to former Chinese official Chen Jiping, due to the dissatisfaction of the pollution, there are 30,000 to 50,000 “mass incidents of protest every year (Wagstaff, para. 5). This is a large number for one cause. Citizens are the foundation of a country. They are the work force, they are the leaders, they are what make a country grow. The problem is that these citizens have needs and when they aren’t met they become angry.

A nation cannot expect to grow and be productive when the citizens feel as though they are breathing in poison everyday. “Healthy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have” (Winston Churchill). Opposing views would claim that the Chinese government is doing a lot to stop this pollution. Beijing claims that the city will reduce its coal consumption from 23 million tons per year to 10 million tons per year (Yongqiang, para. 4). With coal being the biggest polluter, this major reduction will break down pollution greatly. Also on January 1st, 2013 China brought down its air quality control measure to a stricter level (Mead, para. 6). This will help the Chinese when limiting factories pollution and cars exhaust. Although these are all good ways to look towards the future, they are not doing anything for the present. Although reducing the amount of coal used in Beijing seems like a large number, to China it only brings down coal consumption 2%. The idea about bringing the limit down is helpful as well but it will bring problems to the future.

Limiting the air quality means closing more factories and limiting the amount of drivers on a road at a given time. The Chinese were even proposing that they would only allow half of the Chinese that drive to use their cars one day while the other half use theirs the next day. This could create a major economical impact even bigger than the one pollution already creates. All these regulations and money that goes towards pollution is just an add on to the already increasing amount of money that the pollution crisis is costing that Chinese. As the problem increases there will only be a greater amount of money taken away from the economy, greater unhealthy conditions, and a country full of outrages citizens. If China does not find a solution soon the growth that the country is having could turn into decay.


Issues | Hua, Yu. “Jokes, Lies and Pollution in China.” Nytimes.com. New York Times, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. | Mead, Derek. “Will Extreme Air Pollution Slow the Chinese Economy?” Motherboard. Vice, Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. | National Research Council. Energy Futures and Urban Air Pollution: Challenges for China and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007. | Wagstaff, Keith. “China's Massive Pollution Problem - The Week.” The Week. The Week, 9 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Jan. 2014. | Yongqiang, Gu. “The Cost of Cleaning China’s Filthy Air? About $817 Billion, One Official Says.” World. Time, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.


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