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China’s Environmental Future
Mike Treder   Mar 14, 2007   Responsible Nanotechnology  

Randall Parker at Future Pundit wrote an important and insightful article a few days ago about “Asian Air Pollution.”

He points out that many South Asian countries—especially China—are growing so fast, industrializing so fast, and urbanizing so fast that they are polluting more heavily and more widely than any population has ever done before.

It’s common to hear people talk about the amazing growth of the Chinese economy, and to assess the potential ascendancy of China as an economic superpower competing with, or even overtaking, the United States. But will that scenario actually come to pass? Or will the looming difficulties of critically bad air, water, and soil pollution be enough to slow down the Asian juggernaut?

In our ongoing CRN Global Task Force Scenario Project, workshop participants often bring up China’s economy, China’s military, and China’s increasing technological prowess as vital factors to consider in creating plausible stories about the next 10 to 20 years. Conventional wisdom seems to say that if China and the other rapidly expanding South Asian economies are confronted with severe environmental hardships, it’s not likely to occur soon enough or be serious enough to derail their race to the top.

That is probably the case. But considering the amount of pollution they are producing, and taking into account our incomplete understanding of complex ecological systems, it would not surprise me if those problems grow faster than most people anticipate.

Mike Treder is a former Managing Director of the IEET.



COMMENTS

I’ve been studing China for sometime and have many contacts inside China including employees of CCTV,China International Radio and one senior editor of a major China daily newspaper.

Their dependency on dirty coal is and will be a problem for a long time. The air situation is horrific. With 16,000 chemicals factory built on major waterways most major rivers are devoid of fish. The East China Sea is depleted and very polluted. I question how long the soil will be useful with so much acid rain. Apparently all this air pollution is actually preventing rain/snow in the mountains. This further diminishes the water table. Drought conditions will continue and will probably get much worse. China reliance on bottled water will increase. The poor will suffer more and more. It isn’t just air polllution, but pollution of every kind that will be an enormous burden for China. The idea to focus on the economy at the expense of the environment will haunt them in the4 future. I daresay, the economic inroads that they make in Africa,Indonesia and other countries will be accompanied by the same disregard for the environment.
In some cities like Guangzhou, they’ve outlawed motorcycles, which a step in the right direction. Much is being done with alternative fuels and biodiesel. With 2500 coal-fired power generating plants and another 500 scheduled, the idea that things will get better is silly. Most of these plants operate without scrubbers. The CEOs don’t care. It’s all about profit in China at the expense of everything.

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