Saturday, October 09, 2010
If I have on overriding feeling about the trip to China,
it is that it would be a great place to live and work if it weren’t so horribly
polluted. Living there is basically asking for respiratory problems at a
minimum, and almost guaranteed cancer, not to mention the sheer amount of waste
one would produce from all the bottled water to avoid the contaminated water
there. But, the food was a amazing, the opportunities are amazing, and I find
Chinese language, culture and history fascinating. It’s really too bad that they
have failed to keep their natural environment sustainable for human life in the
long-term – here’s to hoping they can actually turn that around.
There are a few places and things we saw in China that
make me more hopeful for China’s future. Young people seem to be more concerned
with sustainability and less waste, rather than embracing the insanity of
Western consumer culture. Given the huge population and somewhat limited
natural resources of China, they don’t have the time to waste before even more
harm occurs than 30% of water being contaminated, or entire cities being evacuated
due to chemical spill.
There is a lot to be worried about though. There are a
lot of cars in China, and most of them are like ours, which is to say dirty
polluters of both particulate matter and CO2. What’s worse is that to achieve
the same percentage of GDP we do, China expends 10 times or so the energy.
Every bit they grow, they exponentially increase their levels of pollution,
fossil fuel usage, and resource usage. If the Earth had infinite resources,
that would be just fine, but it doesn’t. So, I have to admit that China’s
growth really worries me, because we can’t tell them they shouldn’t do what we
did in good faith, especially since we’re not taking significant steps
ourselves to reduce our own levels of pollution.
The key takeaways:
-There is a lot of opportunity in China at this
moment in terms of growth and a consumer minded middle class
-China is incredibly polluted from trying to grow
so fast and from having a growing consumer minded middle class of consumers
-It is really hard to be vegetarian in China