Believe it or not there is environmental legislation in China, it’s called the Environmental Protection Law and was created 34 years ago. However the title is fairly misleading, as one of the main things it doesn’t do is protect the environment in any real way. China’s focus for the last three decades has pretty much been growth at all costs – increasing National wealth was seen as way more important than protecting the environment.
However even the most ardent supporter of this policy would have to think twice as their citizens struggle for breath in the appallingly polluted atmosophere than the people of China have to breathe every day in it’s major industrial areas. The air is not the only problem, there are frequent scares on water and food quality – of course they’re all linked. China has poisoned it’s environment in exchange for money – it’s that simple.
What is the real costs of this growth – is it all just about money? Well there have been several alarming studies that have tried to rationalise the real costs. For example in the majority of the world – life expectancy is growing every year – in Northern China you can expect to live 5 1/2 years fewer due to the poisoned air. The pollution has definitely increased strokes and heart disease and almost certainly cancer. These are conservative estimates, there are sure to be more health implications to be revealed over the coming years.
The problem is how do the Chinese start to repair this without admitting they’ve sold their nations health in exchange for economic prosperity. Of course they won’t – criticism both online and offline is always dealt with. You’ll see only positive messages on both domestic media and international stuff released by China. I saw an advert on one of the Netflix channels last week with footage of how China is now growing in an environmentally friendly way. The advert was aired on the US version of Netflix, which I am fortunate to be able to access.
The reality is irrespective of how China is portrayed, they need to change course and quickly. There is an environmental disaster starting in that country and to proceed on with it’s growth at all costs will ultimately cost billions and the lives of many of it’s citizens. The Environmental Protection law needs to be updated so that the legislation does some of it’s titles implications, they need to do it fast.
Just a note to say that the same Chinese advert now seems to be on many European channels too, I’ve seen it airing on ITV and Channel 4 in the UK and being promoted on YouTube and on French media – here.