July 16, 2008
China's devastating pollution problems aren't just taking a toll on China -- they're also affecting the rest of the world, says New Republic. For example:
- Acid rain partly caused by Chinese sulfur emissions, pours down on Japan and South Korea.
- On some days, one-third of California's background air pollution -- consisting of dust, sulfur and trace metals -- can be traced back to China.
- Some 80 percent of the East China Sea, one of the world's largest fisheries, has become toxic, due to sewage dumps from the mainland.
Even if the Chinese government does spruce up Beijing in time for the 2008 Olympics, the environmental situation in China remains horrifying, says the New Republic:
- Some 16 of the 20 dirtiest cities in the world are in China.
- Studies have found that contamination in the air and water now costs China up to 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) each year.
- A recent World Bank study estimated that pollution causes some 750,000 premature deaths in China each year.
- Toxic discharge from factories is turning rivers in China bright red or even black.
- Water shortages and rampant desertification are threatening to force tens of millions off their land.
- In 2006, China saw 60,000 pollution-related "incidents," a number of them turning violent.
Source: Bradford Plumer, "Cultural Devolution," The New Republic, July 9, 2008.
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