Green China: Seeking Ecological Alternatives

Green China: Seeking Ecological Alternatives

Green China: Seeking Ecological Alternatives

Green China: Seeking Ecological Alternatives


Drawing on a wide range of Chinese and western sources, this book offers in-depth analysis of the complete range of environmental problems facing China today, from the historical, political, economic and cultural root causes, through the successful and unsuccessful efforts which have been made to find solutions, to possible future scenarios and strategies.


Attending the China Environmental Forum in November 1997, various speakers queued up to warn that China’s industrial boom was causing acid rain, poisoned oceans and global warming - all problems that could create regional tensions if not addressed quickly.

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, for example, said the fact China burnt coal to supply 80 per cent of its energy needs meant it was pumping some 10 million tonnes of sulphur into the air every year; the sulphur and other pollutants spouting from hundreds of thousands of ageing mainland factories were at the root of about half of the acid rain falling on East Asia. ‘China’s carbon dioxide emissions threaten to become a major cause of global warming. Left unchecked, environmental problems are likely to become a source of tension, and these problems, unless suppressed, spill over into political and strategic problems’, he warned.

At the same forum, Taiwan voiced fears that pollution dumped into the ocean by the heavily industrialised Yangtze River could decimate fish stocks, while Japan was particularly worried about smog from China riding the wind to return to earth as acid rain. Mitsutake Okano, a senior adviser to Mitsubishi Corp., declared: ‘Our concerns on acid rain are coming from the continent, including China’. While the issue had not yet led to bilateral bickering, the Japanese government had held talks with its Chinese counterpart on solving the problem and was encouraging Japanese companies to bring clean technology to China, he said.

In the same year, Zhao Bin, writing in the New Left Review, warned that China’s ‘furious industrialisation’ was ‘fast propelling it toward the dubious distinction of being the world’s Number One polluter’ (Zhao, 1997, p. 17).

Meanwhile, among some 350 scientists attending the launch of the biggest study of ozone loss over Europe and the Arctic at a research centre in Kiruna, northern Sweden in January 2000, British scientist Joe Farman, the man who discovered the ozone hole over the Antarctic in 1985, also identified China as a threat to global well being. the failure of China and India to phase out dangerous chemicals threatened the progress made in healing the earth’s protective ozone layer, he warned. Since his initial discovery, the volume of ozone-killing substances released into the atmosphere had been cut, but more

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