China and Pollution

I’m used to the smog. I’d find a day when the sky is blue unusual.

-Wolf Hu, Beijing Resident

China’s pollution problem has been evident for the past years with Beijing cloaked in smog and Shanghai’s waterways filled with industrial waste. Pollution causes around 1.6 million premature deaths and around 20 million cases of respiratory illnesses in China.

Unprecedented growth in China industrially has lead to negative impacts both to the environment as well as the health of citizens. An example would be that those who live north of the Huai River have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years lower than those who live South of the river due to extreme air pollution.

China has become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases being responsible for 27% of global emissions in 2014. Coal is largely to blame for China’s air problem because China sustains around half of the world’s coal consumption. Another factor would be vehicle emissions with around 17 million new cars hitting the road in 2014. These problems compounded with China’s depletion of water sources has lead to a slowing of its industry and an inability to sustain it’s large population.

However China understands this issue and has began taking action towards improving environmental problems through the passage of the “Healthy China 2030 plan”. But would this plan be a step forward in combating China’s pollution issue or would it instead fail to address many of the pressing issues that are affecting China’s growing population.

The World Health Organization defines good health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely as the absence of disease or infirmity. This means that numerous factors must be considered by China to successfully revitalize the health of its citizens. Variables that not only include the degree of air pollution or the level of industrial waste in waterways, but also cognitive impairment and the specific effect of pollution on different demographics are needed to develop a comprehensive plan to cure China of its pollution problem.

Without consideration of different socioeconomic backgrounds or the current effect that pollution has on different regions, China’s plan would fail to be inclusive to all aspects of its population.

-Allen Shen


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