Monday, June 1, 2009

Air pollution - China's biggest ecological problem

China has recently, due to heavy industrialization become a synonym for air pollution. Recent economic boost in China is mostly connected with coal fired power plants that are responsible for not only excessive air pollution but also for huge CO2 emissions that cause global warming.

Though China is aware of its tremendous air pollution problem it is still not doing enough to solve it. China wants to continue its economic growth at any cost, and this would mean even bigger air pollution in years to come. Why? Because coal is still one of the cheapest, easily available fuels, and renewable energy sector is at least couple of decades away from becoming competitive enough with fossil fuels. In such situation coal is likely to remain dominant fuel in China for many years to come.

China's government is aware that China's air is of worst quality in the world, source of many respiratory diseases that cause death to many Chinese people. But to China industry is more important than environment and people, and as long China's economy grows all victims are being easily forgotten. What really counts in China is economic success.

In 2007. China overtook U.S. and became world's largest polluter, and by the current looks of it China plans to remain world's largest polluter for very long time. Extreme pollution in China is also contributing to acid rain problem. Acid rains are creating big water pollution problem, especially in south areas that are often hit by frequent acid rains.

The recent study showed that more than one third of China's cities have air quality below internationally accepted health standards, and by WHO estimates more than 500,000 people in China died last year because of air pollution. Air pollution is causing not only many deaths but also many miscarriages and also lower IQ rates among population.

Can China solve air pollution problem? Highly unlikely, at least for next couple of years. Solving air pollution problem in China would either mean giving up on rapid industrialization or creating strong renewable energy sector. Neither of these two options is currently acceptable for China; first one would stop China's economic boom, and second one isn't really a option because renewable energy sector has only started developing a few years ago. In such situation China's air pollution problem is likely to become even more serious in years to come.

Take a look at this video for more insight into China's air pollution problem.

1 comment:

  1. My dad, who is an executive at a major Chinese company, says one of the reason so many rich Chinese people leave is because of the awful pollution in the major Chinese cities. No matter how rich you are, you can't buy blue skies in Shanghai. You will know them by their fruits.