Choking on Growth

New York Times is featuring a special series on the devastating impact of China’s “epic pollution crisis.” It is worth reading, although I feel like I’ve read all of this before. It is painfully obvious to anyone living in the PRC just how degraded the environment is, or how at risk many areas are for degradation. If you are new to China or need a good overview of the crisis, this is for you. Let me summarize it for you:

  • China’s environment = very, very bad
  • Effects on Chinese people’s health = very, very terrible (and mine too!)
  • Measures needed to prevent environmental disaster = too many, too late?

Part 2 of the series discusses water scarcity and focuses on my former haunt of Shijiazhuang. I can definitely confirm that it was dry, dry, dry there. The DH says that from the air, the whole area looked like desert to him. I was very glad to leave Shijiazhuang for the relatively clean air of Linyi. I hope it stays that way.

The DH comes from a part of Spain that was once terribly polluted by mining and steel factories. The air quality was bad and the rivers were all toxic. The good news is now the rivers are recuperating and the air is getting cleaner. Change is possible, although I suspect China is not willing to forgo the economic growth necessary to make a real difference in the environment. (You can see pictures of the transformation of Avilés’ river estuary here.)

A side note: New York Times has done away with that silly “Select” program, and now all content, including opinions, is once again available free of charge.


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