19 March 2014

An environmental dilemma

MC writes:*

Air pollution in China has been a hot topic over the past few years. Recently, it’s brought up again because of PM2.5. Almost all the cities along the eastern coastline suffered from this crisis.

Burning coal takes a large proportion in bad air quality. In northern part of China, people especially need coal (as a major energy source) to gain heat in winter. The Chinese use and produce coal very extensively because it's cheaper in every way relative to other sources, and at the same time they are frustrated about the environment since it is like a dilemma: they need coal but coal gives them trouble. Two decades ago, people can still enjoy the shiny day and a starry night with maybe not so much money in hand, but now, the atmosphere is yellow and the money in hand can’t necessarily solve the problem. On the other hand, the government put too much attention on economic growth but neglected the environmental impact on the whole society and people’s welfare. It is a similar dilemma for the government: a rapid growth is at a cost of severe air pollution.

Bottom Line: It’s an environmental dilemma for the Chinese because a country like China with command economy needs to do something to meet the “growth standard”, in this case, the coal production. However, the production is too much that it generates a concerning negative externality. The government has to design efficient regulations and take effective actions to reduce anxiety from both globe and humankind.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.

1 comment:

  1. The sad part (for China) is that the environmental degradation in the country will likely curtail -- if not derail -- the economy. Pollution of the soil, water and air is already having an effect on its food production and eventually the government will have to start stopping pollution at the source which will mean economically-restricting regulations that businesses in Western countries have been used to dealing with for decades now.

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