China's Environment And Global Implication

Read Complete Research Material


China's Environment and Global Implication

China's Environment and Global Implication


China's recent rapid economic growth has come at a cost of environmental degradation. Various factors, including the conflict between economic development and environmental concerns, insufficient government regulation of China's environment, and lack of public awareness regarding environmental issues have hindered China's effort to find a proper balance between economic prosperity and its environmental health. This study identifies the major problems in China's ecological environment. It then examines China's efforts to promote environmental protection. Lastly, it studies the clash between China's environmental concerns and government policies that encourage economic development, and the international ramifications of that conflict. In so doing, this study uses China as a model for how developing countries might achieve a proper balance between demands for economic development and environmental protection.

Chinese Environmental Problems

China's current environmental problems can be divided into seven categories: land, industry, energy, water, the controversial "Three Gorges Dam" project, air, and population.

(1) LAND: Since the mid-1980s, China has experienced a significant reduction in arable land. In the late-1980s, China lost 2.1 million hectares of cultivated land.' Between 1996 and 2000, China lost another 10.5 hectares of cultivated land, lowering the amount of arable land area to 1.5 hectares per capita. During the latter period, irrigation problems contaminated 32.5 million hectares of cultivated land in China. (Ming 2008 pp.365-78;)

Soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, and salinization of farm land have also contributed to the rapid deteriorating quality of China's ecological environment. As a consequence, over the last three decades most wildlife habitats, inland fisheries, and aquatic product bases in China have been destroyed. (Marcus 2005 pp.D2) According to Chaofei Yang, chief of the Natural Ecological Protection Division of the State Environmental Bureau, almost ninety percent of China's grasslands and forests are experiencing varying degrees of degradation. The pace of desertification increased from 2,100 square kilometers in the mid-1980s to 3,436 square kilometers by the late 1990s. Additionally, in recent years China has lost almost half of its wetlands. The upstream of the Huang River lost almost a quarter of its volume in the early 1990s, causing worsening flood problems in China. The flood in the Yangtze River in 1998, for example, cost China 134.5 billion yuan (US$ 16.8 billion) in economic losses. (Edward 2005 pp.A16)

The loss of cultivated land resulting from soil erosion, salinization, water scarcity, and desertification has produced two conflicting trends--an increased demand for grain from an ever growing population and a diminishing capacity to meet that demand. (Palmer 2008 pp.788-808) This raises concerns regarding how China will feed its 1.3 billion people and protect its environment simultaneously. (6)

(2) INDUSTRY: Given China's emphasis on developing heavy industries, pollution from manufacturing factories pose the most severe threat to its environment. Due to low energy costs, the power sector is more likely to produce energy waste. Each day, China's factories release large amounts of industrial wastes that have not been processed thoroughly to ensure the elimination of contaminated ...
Related Ads