Wednesday, July 9, 2014

China arms itself for difficult 'war on pollution'

Terra Daily via AFP: Having declared "war on pollution", China is arming itself with tougher weapons from new courts to daily fines and shutting down offenders altogether, in what analysts call promising steps but no guarantee of progress.

For decades, China accepted the blight on the environment as the collateral damage of tremendous economic growth that raised the incomes of hundreds of millions of people -- who now increasingly clamour for a better quality of life as well.

The acrid air, along with vast water and soil pollution, has not only afflicted the health and environment of the world's most populous country but also embarrassed the rising power as images of its capital smothered in smog scare off tourists and business.

In recent days levels of PM2.5, the smallest and most dangerous particulates, have at times been above 300 micrograms per cubic metre in Beijing, acco
rding to US embassy measurements -- 12 times the World Health Organization's recommended maximum level.

Yet powerful industries and local officials still eager to boost their bottom lines resist changing course. At the same time, fixing the environment conflicts with the ruling Communist Party's overriding goal to grow the economy and improve livelihoods to avoid the "social unrest" that might shake its control.

"We can't say we're optimistic but we do see hopeful signs," said Ma Jun, a prominent Beijing-based environmentalist....

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