Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Air in China Continues to Kill Millions

The thickness of smog in many Chinese cities is deadly.
Current GOP front-runner Donald Trump declared last week that climate change is "no big problem at all.  If you look at China they are doing nothing about it."  Well, that isn't exactly true as I will show.  But, even if it were true Mr. Trump seems to be oblivious to the fact that by "doing nothing" China is killing 4,400 of its citizens every day.  That comes to an incredible 1.6 million deaths every year.

Hence the wisdom of doing nothing, I suppose.  I have previously written about China's air pollution / climate change problems here and here.  It is an ongoing concern in my reading.  If recent studies are correct, the rate of total Chinese deaths due to air pollution is rising at about 200,000 more deaths per year.  Which means that if China continues to "do nothing" then by 2017 some 2 million people will die each year from some of the worst smog conditions on the planet.

This highlights one my primary issues with those who contest climate change.  Even if they are right (which they aren't) what is their point? Do they seriously think belching CO2 and a multitude of industrial pollutants into the atmosphere should not be addressed? We should not "burden" industry at all with the incontestable fact that the current industrial practices worldwide are killing large numbers of human beings? Forget climate change for a moment. We still have a global crisis.

Al Gore rightly helped raise awareness to these grave issues with his film An Inconvenient Truth. Earlier this year the Chinese watched their own version of this  type of documentary, depicting the terrible conditions in major metropolitan areas of China where you literally cannot see the tops of buildings nor more than a few blocks down any given street because of harmful industrial smog. The film went viral and was seen by almost 200 million viewers in just the first few days of its release.  It actually forced the Chinese government to respond.

Certain urban areas of China are now deserted due to the extent of the pollution.  Tall buildings sit unfinished due to the inhabitable air engulfing them. Which is rather ironic, China being somewhat of a Marxist country, given the fact that Marx wrote extensively about how capitalism degrades the environment.  In reality there may be no greater environmental threat in human history than the system of communism.

Now, China has cut its coal imports in half, a reflection of a new policy toward dealing with their rampant pollution. Just last week, Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping met with President Obama and pledged to do more to address this grave issue. Will it be enough?

Meanwhile, many other areas of Asia are experiencing the same air quality issues.  Singapore is a prime example.  This powerful video shows what the average citizen has to breathe in Indonesia thanks to massive burning to feed the timber industry there.  Portions of India are dangerous to live in simply because to the air quality alone.

So, while Mr. Trump seems to think "doing nothing" is fine with respect to global warming and air pollution, the facts speak very clearly for themselves.  Millions of human beings across this planet are dying every year from air conditions created by unregulated industrial expansion.

I have said it before but the point bears repeating. Ample historical evidence exists that human beings will always push the limits of their environment to dangerous levels where industrialization is concerned.  In the absence of stringent environmental regulations human beings historically have denuded the land of trees, belched emissions from industry and transportation into the air, and pumped hazardous waste into the water.

Whether you choose to side with Mr. "Much ado about nothing" Trump or with the Pope on climate change, time will tell.  Either the present debate about the future will be relevant in the face of rising global temperatures or the whole issue has been misinterpreted by a lot of intelligent people. The Earth will settle this issue in the not too distant future regardless of what humans think today.  My personal opinion is that Mr. Trump won't care for the results of his inaction. As the multitudes in Asia continue to suffer and die. 

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