13 March 2014

Heavy Metal Pollution in China

NG writes:*

In recent decades, Chinese economy has kept a high growth rate of GDP. The manufacturing industry is rapidly developing and has provided a huge contribution to GDP. However, there are still some environmental problems with the high GDP growth rate. Many factories have a low awareness of environmental hazard and want to reduce the production costs. They just let exhaust into the atmosphere and let sewage water into the rivers or the lakes. All of emissions with heavy metal are without proper treatment.

In the end, this heavy metal will deposit into soil through water, such as rivers, lakes and rain. Because of the pollution, the water cannot be drunk and the land cannot be farmed after a long time. According to the China Economic Weekly, around 10% of Chinese rice contained excessive cadmium, a heavy metal known to cause cancer. Based on this, we can see that it has already affected people’s health. In addition, it affects the sustainable development of the local economy. The cost of renovation is very high. For example, biosorption is effective and low cost, but it needs to take several decades for it to be completely clean.

Bottom Line: The heavy metal pollution in China would affect the Chinese health and hinder the development of future Chinese economy.

* 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.

5 comments:

  1. Maybe you can provides more information about where are those areas polluted by heavy metal. Have you ever heard of the term “cancer villages”? Those villages are located surrounded by reckless industries. The people behind those high pollution industries will not care about the regulations by government, since the chance to getting caught pollution is really law. Sometimes the local government even cooperated or bribed by those people behind those industries, people who live in those villages seem hopeless. Sadly, Central government only looking for the GDP in past few years, it caused the snowball effect. Until now, when the pollution getting worst, and affect the citizens’ health, do you think this is too late to respond? Someone told me that the planet just like a burning plane, it’s too late to put down the fire. So, do you agree with that?
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  2. You bring up some good points in your blog post. Such as China's goal of increasing its GDP at the expense of the environment, the fact that cadmium is currently being found in rice, and the length of time it may take to clean up this heavy metal pollution.

    If the heavy metal pollution gets worse and more land is no longer suitable for agricultural use do you think that China will be faced with food shortages and an increased demand for imported food?

    I could see this becoming a global problem if the food which China is exporting has become contaminated as well. I wonder if decreased consumption of Chinese grown foods would impact the country’s GDP enough for them to monitor heavy metals pollution more closely.

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  3. Yes, your question are quite useful for me. Currently, China is facing the food shortage problem and imports more and more food from outside of country now.
    Actually, if a country imports food from China, that country will have some strict test standards before these food comes in local markets. Therefore, it wouldn't be a global problem. All Chinese grown food is safety in other country. Thanks!

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  4. Erik, your comment is useful for me. For all of your new information, I already knew it. Due to the blog words number requirement, I cannot write a several thousands paper you guys. I just pick some important information to use. For your quesitons, I knew that village when I do the research. I don't think the government action that tries to deal with problem is too late now. If government starts to solve the problem, anytime is not too late. If the government don't realize the problem, that is totally late. All of developed countries experienced such process of environmental pollution in the past. Based on my research, Chinese today's environmental situation is better than other developed countries when those countries are in the same stage of the process in the past. Therefore, Chinese government does not too late to respond those environmental problems. For those, I hope to answer your questions. thanks!

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  5. Thanks for your bringing up some point I never saw before. In your blog, there still have something can be improved.
    i think we need more information about how to solve the problem about heavy metal pollution. I think tax is the most efficient way to achieve the goal, tax would create incentive for companies to innovate, to decrease pollution when unit tax applied on pollution, in this case, both companies and social are better off.
    overall it's still a nice blog!~:D

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