Environmental Economics: River Pollution in China

As humans continue to evolve and technology continues to advance, ecological devastation and climate change have begun to plague planet Earth. A mixture of overindulgence and large discounts addressed to the future have pushed civilization to a place of hostility. Science and fact is no longer the driving force behind environmental decision making, rather economic dividends and the endless journey to financial freedom seemingly determine the health and expiration date of the resource-rich rock we call home. Environmental damage and the ensuing attempts to mitigate that damage is a headline that can be found anywhere around the world in 2018.

Degradation of climate is not local to one specific source, rather it is a fast spreading doomsday narrative that people with general awareness for human life have heard about- and even most have begun efforts to stop. With so many climate issues around the world, each with unique causes and effects, it would be near impossible to create a dialogue for all of them at once.

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For this reason, what follows will be focused on pollution and the effects from pollution on the ever expansive river system of China.

The country of China is the largest in the world by population, at roughly 1.4 billion people-Add in China’s relatively large exponential growth function and we are left with a part of the Earth primed for over-population and mass amounts of pollution. Environmental issues are not local to China, the entire globe is dealing with years of environmental neglect, now attempting to solve a problem that might be too large answer.

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Worldwide pollution awareness has been on the constant rise, yet it seems that in some situations pollution is getting worse. Prof. Webber from the University of Melbourne explains that “In China, decades of high economic growth driven by rapid industrialisation were fuelled by a single-minded orientation to development, even at the expense of water quality” (2). A combination of cheap labor and an extremely large labor force makes China a popular country for outsourcing manufacturing. As Prof. Webber alludes to above, China was more than willing to act as a ‘pollutant receptacle’ if the economic climate was able to be capitalized on. Because we carried out this carelessness for an extended period of time, the road eventually led to what we see in present day China. A country living in excess. Excess in population, excess in waste, and excess in pollution all combine to leave China severely affected. The beautiful natural system of water that flows through the country is undergoing immense change due to this excess. Chinese surface water has gone from contaminated and drinkable, to useless in many parts of China; and is continuing to regress to harmful and hazardous as time passes and pollution levels rise. This devastation is not for lack of policy nor technological advances, which well be discussed at length later, but for attempts at correcting behavior coming much to late.

Chinese water pollution is raging past environmental disrespect into a territory of harming life in China. Water pollution is not regional in China, it is an obstacle to human life all across the country. According to research compiled in a “Environmental Pollution” textbook, “out of 208,000 km of monitored river reaches in China, water quality in 31.4% reaches falls into class IV or worse, and thus is unfit for potable use or human contact”( Han, currel Cao, 1225). Essentially, one third of all fresh-water sources in China are not cleared for human contact. A third of the water being polluted is not as hard to fix if the remaining two thirds of water can help sustain life. However, as noted in the above study, another “14.9% of river reaches is inferior to class V, indicating complete loss of potential for all consumptive uses or human contact”( Han, currel Cao, 1225). Combining all these statistics we see that almost half the fresh river water is damaged beyond human or animal use.

Pollution levels in China are at an all time high. These levels are not necessarily slowing down and many parts of the country are being accelerated for varying reasons. River pollution is now reaching levels that are having alarming effects on the humans in need of this simple resource. Because of these problems arising, China has made Water records in their country more accessible. As reported by the IPE, a non-profit environmental research group based in Beijing, and a non-profit project by Jeffrey Hays “An estimated 980 million of China’s 1.3 billion people drink water every day that is partly polluted”(Hays, 6). According to this incredible data from the IPE and summed up by Jeffrey, nearly 86 percent of people in China are drinking contaminated water every single day. Images of black-sludgy water and dead fish lining the top of rivers and lakes are normal sights for a large majority of China’s population. Access to clean water in rural China is becoming more difficult to attain leaving people with no choice but to consume the highly polluted water.

Policy regarding the river water pollution of China has been rigorously thought through. Finding an optimal remedy for China is not as easy as it would be for other countries. China’s large and widespread population makes policy hard to get right and we can see that in some of China’s past and current attempts at tackling water pollution.

  1. Bibliography
  2. Data Services, wwwen.ipe.org.cn/about/DataServices.aspx.
  3. “China Says Progress Made on Water Pollution, but Battle Remains.” South China Morning Post, 1 June 2018, www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2148779/china-says-progress-made-water-pollution-battle-remains.
  4. Currell, Matthew J, and Guoliang Cao. “Environmental Pollution.” Environmental Pollution, by Dongmei Han, vol. 218, 2016, pp. 1222–1235.
  5. Hays, Jeffrey. “WATER POLLUTION IN CHINA.” Facts and Details, 1 Apr. 2014, factsanddetails.com/china/cat10/sub66/item391.html.
  6. Tingting, Deng, and Toxics campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “In China, the Water You Drink Is as Dangerous as the Air You Breathe | Deng Tingting.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 2 June 2017, www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jun/02/china-water-dangerous-pollution-greenpeace.
  7. Webber, Michael. “Tackling China’s Water Pollution.” Global Water Forum, 17 Oct. 2017, www.globalwaterforum.org/2017/10/09/tackling-chinas-water-pollution/.
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jun/02/china-water-dangerous-pollution-greenpeace
  9. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2148779/china-says-progress-made-water-pollution-battle-remains
  10. https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0269749116310363/1-s2.0-S0269749116310363-main.pdf?_tid=49ce6f18-6a23-4c38-a0ae-a7e63b07da6d&acdnat=1540918735_6dd80222adeb3a1ae3d8e222ac5bab82

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Environmental Economics: River Pollution in China. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/environmental-economics-river-pollution-in-china-essay

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