Wednesday, August 11, 2010

China Wont Clean Up Its Environmental Mess Because Of Ongoing Issues

Newsweek wonders whether China will finally take steps to clean up the multitude of environmental disasters ongoing or impending due to government inaction or complicity.

In a word? No.

China has been here before. Many times before in fact.

They were touting the closure of thousands of pollution spewing factories and coal powered plants in the runup of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Yet, one look at the skies told the tale - the air was so thick you could see it and once the Olympics were over, the skies got even worse.

The rivers throughout the country are in horrible shape as all manner of poison and pollution pollute and are a health hazard to the local ecology and make it incompatible with human consumption.

The Chinese government has instituted all kinds of flood control, and yet every year thousands of people die in floods. However, it does appear that the Three Gorges Dam has done its job on its stretch of river because flooding downstream was averted (although pollutants and garbage jammed up behind the dam and had to be removed to the tune of 3,000 tons a day).

While some of the focus of the Newsweek piece is on the flooding rains that have swept pollution into the rivers and deforestation in an effort by the Chinese government to modernize and bring the country up to Western standards of living, it ignores that the Chinese government has routinely ignored environmental protections.

The government has looked the other way repeatedly in its quest to modernize. Property rights are nonexistent and environmental concerns are so low on the list of priorities, that it will be a long time before Chinese citizens are able to see improvements in their environment.

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