China has always been on the forefront of innovation way before the 21st century. From inventing the first computer, initiating the system of using the money, to the invention of gunpowder—everyone knew that China was going to be a super country. Fast forward to several centuries later, the prediction couldn’t have been truer and now China is known to be the manufacturing superpower that different countries worldwide always go to for standard quality products at a very cheap labor cost. While this has definitely opened a lot of opportunities for this eastern country, it has definitely taken a toll on its environmental state.
For years now, China has faced lots of environmental issues that seem irreversible to remedy. From smothering smogs, cutting down trees to make way for more factories, and to pollution-related deaths—this is definitely what the early emperors never envisioned for their dear country and yet, here we are. According to a peer-reviewed study out of a collaboration between Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Health Effects Institute, a Boston-based research center dedicated to studying the environment, they discovered 155,000 deaths attributed to the polluting effects of coal burning which is the number one pollutant in China. There have also been 86,500 deaths due to coal burning within the power plants themselves. This is quite a hard situation to tackle as the factories in China require tons of coal in order to operate, especially with the steel, cement, and power plant industry, and yet, this country consumes twice as much coal on a yearly basis as all the other countries combined.
Aside from that, one of the major causes of mortality in China is the transportation-related deaths that include the effects of vehicle emissions that have ballooned up to 137,000 deaths in 2013 alone. With China having known to have a superhighway with 51 lanes, this comes as no surprise how these vehicle emissions contribute a lot to a country’s greenhouse effects. Even China’s president, Xi Jinping, has been strongly wanting to fight against the country’s pollution due to waste and irrational consumption. While the recent actions have had convincing results, it is deemed not totally changing and still shows that China has to do more in order to eradicate their current problems.
Ever since the country’s economic boom in 1978, China only launched a war against pollution in 2014 where they expressed their discontent about the damages done to their air, soil, and water. In 2010, they discovered 5.9m sources of pollution in the country and it has now reached up to 9m. Since then, a series of campaigns has been launched in order to control the harmful effects of the environment along with the law enforcement in keeping a certain emission standard among factories and vehicles. With the countermeasures being put into action, the country has been able to manage to bring down up to 6% of the concentration of the hazardous airborne particles called PM2.5, however, it still remains on a higher concentration in other smog-prone areas in the northern region.
With the country tapping into the help of the ministry of environmental protection to look into water management, agricultural pollution, emissions reductions and other ministries handling the other problems, it plans to hold a second environmental census by 2019 to look into the progress of the campaign.
Needless to say, China stands as a prime example that a country should concentrate on sustainable development, not at the expense of its citizens overall health. Without its healthy citizens contributing to its country’s economic growth and with a severely-polluted environment, China will continue to be a loss. This also goes to show that a remedy or solution shouldn’t be considered when the harmful pollution is almost irreversible, instead, the conservation of the environment should be considered right from the start of every decision
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