19 Mar 2014

China Is Hurting Itself

C writes:*

Nowadays, China is facing one of the most crucial factors of environmental issues, which is called “Wu Mai” (that is “haze” in Chinese). According to the WWF, in recent decades, China has suffered from many different kinds of environmental problems. Also in the article, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson claimed that “China produces a new coal-fired power station every week, and will be the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide by 2030”.

As a Chinese citizen, without angry, I was quite nervous and sad after my father told me many stories, which happened in my hometown---Nanjing. For example, people are debating the best model numbers of 3M masks to buy through the Internet, and many of them make use of air purifiers to clean the indoor air, same as my parents.

Generally, everything of value has a cost. China’s economy has developed rapidly, but at a price. Power plants, factories and heavy industries are all belching out black, dirty air, at the cost of people health and our environment. However, if everyone is sick, are there any benefits to improve the economic growth? Back to the history, what Beijing is experiencing nowadays, is quite similar to what happened in London 1952 when a temperature inversion combined with emissions from domestic coal fires to kill thousands of people, which including many young and old people. Eventually, London had spent almost 30 years to bring the pollution under control; but it may take more time for China unless the Chinese government recognizes the trade off between economic development and environmental equity.

Bottom Line: Chinese government needs to combat air pollution crisis

* 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.