Judging by the numbers, the scope of China’s environmental degradation is beyond shocking. Consider:
- The World Bank estimated, in a 2007 report, that pollution caused 5.8% of China’s GDP in premature deaths, healthcare costs, and material damages. Air pollution alone is estimated to kill 700,000 people a year.
- A 2012 MIT study estimated that air pollution in 2005 cost the Chinese economy $112 billion in lost labor and healthcare costs, roughly five times higher than it was in 1975.
- In 2010, airborne microscopic pollutants caused an estimated 8,600 premature deaths in four major Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xian.
- According to a Chinese vice minister of environmental protection, the water quality in five of the nine bays along China’s coast was “extremely poor.” Results from monitoring stations along 10 major river basins show that 40% of the water is polluted. And 55% of the underground water in 200 cities is polluted. On top of that, about 300 million rural residents do not have access to safe drinking water.
- Soil pollution is endangering China’s food chain. Roughly 10% of the country’s arable land has been contaminated by heavy metal, based on scientific studies conducted in the late 1990s. In 2006, the Chinese government began a nationwide survey of soil pollution. However, it has not released the results, most probably because the findings are too alarming for the government to release.
Given decades of environmental neglect and China’s heavy reliance on coal — which produces 70% of the country’s energy — it would be difficult to produce a dramatic improvement quickly. Nevertheless, the Chinese government can take a comprehensive approach to environmental protection by adopting tougher environmental standards, changing their economic policy, increasing investment in the environment, and mobilizing the press and civil society to take part in these efforts.Via
A couple things immediately stand out.
- This pollution is caused because they are making the worlds cheap crap. This is as much our pollution problem as theirs.
- They are burning coal, one of the filthiest, mercury filled fuels around. They are literally killing themselves with their energy source choices.
- They are creating enough green house gasses to alter the planet in such a way that billions more lives are in danger.
- This thirst for coal, and other natural resources is bound to cause political instability in places like Africa and other regions where China is pushing its weight around (for an example look what happened when America put its fingers into middle east politics for oil over the last 50 years).
- This pollution doesn’t stay in China, elevated mercury levels, and other toxins have been detected in California, putting human lives, and farm/fishing industry in danger.
- Unless we stop ordering cheap crap from china, and help China build a sustainable energy system, billions of human lives including our own could be at risk.
We must ask ourselves, why is the stuff we buy from China so cheap? Is it because the people and environment of China is absorbing extra costs? The cost of the products from China doesn’t include things like “pollution controls” or “clean waste disposal” or “air quality controls” instead those costs are passed on to the people of china, the environment of china, and ultimately to all of us.
So sure, we might pay less for our cheap plastic crap from china, but that doesn’t mean those items are actually cheaper, it just means someone else is picking up part of the tab for us. Increasingly it looks like they are paying that bill with their lives.
Shameful that anyone could run for office (and win) and honestly think that trollop.
Ever wonder how Walmart makes so much money? They pay their workers so little that they are forced to get on food stamps (which your tax dollars pay for), so next time you think you are getting a deal by shopping at Walmart remember that what you are really doing is paying for those savings in some other way.
The combined worth of the 6 Walmart heirs and heiresses is greater than that of the bottom 41% of American families (48.8 million households). How do the grinning kids of Sam Walton stay so rich? By paying their employees slave wages and not providing benefits, forcing them to use food stamps and medicaid. Above, a poster by Miel Macassey that shows how Walmart siphons money from taxpayers so it can pay its workers (which represent 1% of the American workforce) an average of $8.81 an hour without having them and their kids drop dead of starvation.(via)
I attended the Do The Math tour last night put on by Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben describes the simple math of global warming:
If we want to avoid a climate catastrophe we need to keep our warming below a 2 degree Celsius rise.
To avoid that we will need to keep the amount of carbon below 565 gigatons of CO2
Current proven reserves of oil/gas/coal are 2795 gigatons of CO2. Five times more than we will need to doom us to runaway global warming.
These companies will dig up and burn that carbon, its how they make money. They should no longer be considered companies, and be reclassified as radical enemies of humanity.
So what do we do with these companies? We go after the only thing they care about.
We need to make schools, colleges, pensions, unions, etc to divest from these companies. We can no longer offer these companies a profit for destroying our earth.
If you are a college who invests in Exxon, what is the point of educating your students if there will not be a viable climate for them to use that education in. If you are a pension fund manager what is the point of investing in Shell if there is no future for your pensioners to use their retirement in.
And if all that wasn’t enough Bill explained it all in a metaphor we can all understand Beer.
Learn how you can get your institutions to divest from these big carbon companies at GoFossilFree.org
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We’re hitting the road to jumpstart a new movement.
It’s simple math: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.
This November, Bill McKibben and 350.org are hitting the road to build the movement that will change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.