Thursday, December 08, 2005

Watching China

Environmentalists are divided over how China is responding to the Songhua River chemical spill. That's to be expected. They can't even figure out whether we're dealing with Global Warming or that we're about to enter a little Ice Age because of Global Warming.

The chemical spill prompted China's top environmental official Xie Zhenhua to resign as head of the State Environmental Protection Administration. Some say that he was a strong proponent of environmental protection and his resignation is a big blow to improving China's woeful environmental protection system, while others think that it was the right thing to take responsibility for the inaction at the various levels of government. It is a good thing for government to take responsibility, but the problem is always the coverup. The Songhua River spill is no exception. And millions of people's health and safety was needlessly put at risk by the delay in informing the public of the impending crisis. In a bit of good news (or at least trying to put a positive spin on the situation) China is launching an environmental safety campaign to review thousands of businesses and factories across the country.

China's environmental situation is horrific and that will take years to change. Its workplace safety situation isn't any better. The government could care less about the human toll it imposes on the people in the name of progress. We've seen it time and time again in totalitarian regimes.

And we're also learning that the official who tried to cover up the leak into the Songhua was found hanged.

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