Tuesday, February 06, 2007

China's rapid growth an environmental disaster

Courtesy of J.F. Beck I found this argument from Spiegel on the massive global environmental damage that is due to China. China is a global environmental villain that funds its 10% GDP growth partly by imposing external costs on the rest of the world.
    • Air pollution from China damage the atmosphere in San Francisco & Germany.
    • China’s grasslands, since the early 1980s, have been turned into a desert the size of the US state of Connecticut.
    • China is home to 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities.
    • 278 out of 661 Chinese cities are without a sewerage treatment plant.
    • 340 million Chinese people are without access to clean drinking water
China will be the world’s biggest CO2 emitter in a few years– already it accounts for over 15% of emissions. Yet China demands that developing countries not be forced to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Interestingly, China is a country that will be most adversely affected by climate change. It is endogenously driving its own fate. One would think China should have a stake in cutting emissions to secure its own future. It’s a sad picture that throws new light on the Chinese ‘growth miracle’ and the glory of living in this 'worker's paradise'.


conrad said...

The government certainly realizes there is a problem (its in the paper often enough), its just the solution to it is exceptionally difficult. In addition, I also think that the government thinks that if it is rich, it will be able to deal with the consequences better (which is potentially true), than if it isn't. It would be interesting to know where along a continuum the government falls on this trade-off.

Its worth pointing out that when you say China will become the biggest polluter, this isn't a fair comparison. I'm sure the average Chinese citizen and government for that matter thinks that they have every right to produce as much pollution per head as any of the rich countries. This is why the rich countries need to reduce their pollution outputs -- and it should be much easier for them to do so given they don't have social problems on the scale China does

wbb said...

Arrant nonsense, Harry. Do you understand how low Chinese C02 emissions are compared with Australians?

Anonymous said...

wwbb, China has reasonably high per capita emissions and aggregate emissions that will soon be the world's largest. Its a question of effects not of the moral right different countries have to ravage the environment.


Anonymous said...

I saw from that website (http://www.erenlai.com/index.php?aid=566&lan=3) some datas saying (quote)"If present trends are not reversed: "China will overtake the United States as the world's biggest emitter of CO2 before 2010." The International Energy Agency, 2006, November, 7."

wbb, are you sure China has lower C02 emissions than Australia?

chrisl said...

wbb It is a cunning plan to report co2 per capita rather than by country. When you take into account the amount of trees and oceans which absorb co2 then there is no way we are a net emitter of co2

conrad said...

This is bizarre logic, obviously from people that come from small rich countries that evidentally believe "do way I say and not do what I do".

Chirsl: If rich countries like Australia (where the cost of doing something would have a negligible impact on people's lifestyles) think they have every right to pollute as much as they want, then apart from self-interest, why on Earth do you think the Chinese should do anything?

You might be able to convince yourself by some obscure argument, but this just delusional -- it is the Chinese government that you need to convince, and I doubt they would really care for such arguments.

chrisl said...

Conrad Firstly I was responding to wbb's claim of low chinese emissions.In fact their emissions are growing by our total emissions every year or so.
Secondly if small rich countries did lower their emissions would it make the slightest difference to what China did?

conrad said...

"Secondly if small rich countries did lower their emissions would it make the slightest difference to what China did?"

Who knows (including the Chinese government -- what will the government even look like in 10 years?) -- However its clear that the government is aware of the problem, and its clear that doing nothing simply gives them (and everyone else) an excuse to do nothing.