Saturday, March 22, 2014

Invisible cities and flammable rivers: China’s pollution problem

Ilaria Bertini in Blue & Green Tomorrow: Disregard for pollution law from China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, is having destructive effects on the country’s rivers and land – not to mention its citizens and its long-term prosperity.

China relies heavily on coal-fired power plants to provide energy to its cities and businesses. This, combined with heavy traffic, has led to alarming levels of air pollution in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Xingtai, Harbin and Shanghai.

...In January, Beijing smog levels were reported to be 25 times higher than the limit considered safe by authorities, in a crisis that continued well into February. Officials say thousands of people die prematurely every year in the country because of the poor quality air. Industrial pollution is so high that it is spreading to nearby Tokyo and Seoul.

Pollution is poisoning the land, making it unsuitable for agriculture, and it’s also contaminating waterways. Earlier this month, a river in the city of Wenzhou was literally set on fire by a discarded cigarette – as years of industrial spillage had made it flammable.

Some businesses are fleeing the country as a result. A survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing said many firms are finding it difficult to send top executives to work in China because of the pollution issues....

Smog in Harbin, shot by Fredrik Rubensson, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license 

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