The Chinese Battle with Pollution



China is indeed the world’s most populous country having a vast territory. It is now at a critical stage in the process of attempting to build a moderately prosperous society and modernisation. Extensive green development is significant for promoting sustainability and harmony in China. The key to tackling the problems caused by air pollution and achieving green development has been the government’s policies that provide guidance, and define clearly the responsibilities of all people to work together toward the same goal. Still, there are problems that threat people’s well-being such as environmental pollution, traffic congestion, and food safety and continue to pose a serious threat. It is more than merely reaching the targets for energy conservation and emissions reduction. It is about protecting the environment, resources, and climate while pursuing economic and social development so that the human species will sustain its growth.

What Resources have been affected the worst by Pollution in China?

Human-induced environmental pollution and destruction have also resulted from rapid economic growth in China. They have gradually become an issue of serious concern affecting people’s health. Although some improvements have been made since the government established and enacted various laws and policies, the present situation remains unpredictable and daunting. Beijing suffers from groundwater overexploitation and high energy consumption and emissions. Decline in groundwater tables has led to increasing rates of land subsidence posing difficulties for people. Groundwater loss has also added to wetland degradation, and loss of habitat for wildlife. Water has become increasingly scarce in China. Most of the decrease in water resources is due to human demand and activities. There have been attempts to expand land resources to produce grains, but rapid urbanisation and industrialisation have increased demand and drawn down supplies. Now, environmental degradation be it in the form of groundwater depletion, or loss of habitat for wildlife, or scarcity of land resources, is a problem very much related to pollution-pollution that has aggravated it.

To achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to control the population, to conserve resources, and to protect the environment. Land degradation has led to rapid decline in the ecosystem balance; a serious threat to the sustainable development of grasslands can be seen. China has passed a number of national level laws, regulations and plans in order to conserve grasslands, and promote sustainable management. China, like several other countries faces risks and vulnerabilities from higher average global temperatures, rising sea levels, climate change, and loss of agricultural land and access to fresh water. Has China tackled its pollution problem? In some ways yes; in many other ways no. Why? Simply because climate, pollution and resource management are all interrelated, and cannot be viewed separately. Falling groundwater levels, and polluted water both pose problems. Land erosion followed by dumping of waste, both make the land not fit for use.

How has China tried to contain Pollution? Has it been Enough?

For the past few decades, China has been achieving an impressive economic growth. As its economy is growing fast, various environmental issues are threatening the nation, such as air pollution; food safety crisis caused by soil contamination and ground water pollution; and environmental issues related to landfill wastes. Pollution of water and soil resources, soil erosion, land degradation, and ecosystem and habitat loss are common. China has established an environmental protection system that strictly supervises the emission of all pollutants. Still, the government needs to increase investment on environmental protection in rural areas. China’s environmental protection efforts are experiencing a hard time in this new age of economic recovery and growth. It has become very difficult to deal with the decrease in raw water quality because of obsolete water supply facilities, and very few upgrades. In western China, water security almost solely depends on the quality of raw water, much of which has now found to contain carcinogenic substances, mutagenic substances, and toxic and harmful matter dissolved in water.

Environmental critics believe that environmental problems have not been solved, if they recur. They do return if no supportive measures are taken. Let us consider the case of a sewage treatment plant that has been built, but not have pipelines because of lack of funds. In this situation, the plant cannot function, and would not serve its purpose. In China, in the report presented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, it has been found that half of the 1,400 sewage treatment plants around the country are almost idle now. A critical level of water pollution and obsolete water supply facilities have put a huge pressure on providing secure water, which may lead China to a period of frequent water pollution accidents. These problems need to be addressed. Simply building the infrastructure needed to tackle environmental problems is not enough, it has to be running the way it was meant to be.

The Chinese commercial city Wuhan has a system of monitoring daily pollution emissions of its enterprises, and disclosing this pollution information. Using the internet, this system provides the public with 24-hour online monitoring data and videos of sewage disposal and exhaust gas emissions in the city. The coastal city of Weihai was the first to provide to the public real-time regulatory information of heavy pollutant sources online. The Environmental Protection Law made in 1989 in China has made the polluters take full responsibility for the consequences of pollution rather than the general public. Measures to disclose information, increase public participation, and levying daily penalties for air pollution control are some steps in the right direction. In an effort to contain environmental degradation, the Chinese government has passed more than 100 environmental laws and regulations; much has been done, but much more needs to be done to control the situation in China.

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