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The Economic Growth of China and the Environment. Are the environmental problems in China the result of its population?. China is considered to have the worst environmental problems in the world.

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The Economic Growth of China and the Environment

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are the environmental problems in china the result of its population
Are the environmental problems in China the result of its population?
  • China is considered to have the worst environmental problems in the world.
  • With a population that exceeds 1 billion people it is easy blame these problems on the massive population.
  • Is this too simple?
geographic distribution of environmental degradation
The distribution of environmental degradation is the result of a long history economic development programs and political repression

Distribution of Acid Rain 2002

Geographic distribution of environmental degradation
china s command economy
China’s Command Economy
  • China’s communist party came to power in 1949 under the leadership of Mao Zedong.
    • Intention was to build an egalitarian state. Focus was on job creation, not innovation and growth.
    • Began with land reforms: Taking land from the landlords and giving it to the landless.
      • Land reforms led to the creation of millions of small family farm plots which could not produce enough food for China’s urban population.
      • Failure of small plots led to the creation of village communes. Communes became the basis of rural political organization, health care, education and eventually small rural enterprises.
      • Central government set production quotas on communes. Failure to meet these resulted in severe penalties.
communes and famine
Communes and Famine
  • Central government dictated commune activities. Farmers were forced to dedicate more time to infrastructure projects than to food production.
  • Local officials overstated grain production to central government to gain political favors. Central government raised demands on communes.
    • The result was that between 1958 and 1961 30 million people starved to death because of misappropriation of food and farmers’ time.
regional self sufficiency
Regional Self-Sufficiency
  • Fear of foreign invasion led central government to pursue a policy of regional self-sufficiency.
    • Each region of China was required to develop balanced industrial and agricultural sectors.
    • This led to the development of industries and farms in regions that were not appropriate and were far from markets.
      • Clearing forests for wheat.
market reforms of the late 1970 s
Market Reforms of the late 1970’s
  • Market reforms in China were initiated by Deng Xiaoping.
  • Reforms decentralized economic planning down to the local level
    • Farmers and business people allowed to exchange in an open market
    • Local officials developed regional industrial and agricultural specializations
    • Opened China to foreign direct investment.
market reforms and rural industries
Market reforms and rural industries
  • Focus on regional specialization led to the growth rural industries.
    • Fertilizer factories, paper mills, iron smelting.
    • Many of the factories were centered around rural communes
    • Created massive economic growth in rural regions.
    • These industries have led to high levels of environmental degradation.
      • Government fears regulating these industries because of possible job loss in rural regions.
urban economic growth and sez s
Urban economic growth and SEZ’s
  • Per capita GDP in China: $US 300 in mid 1980’s- $US 4020 in 2001
  • Fear of rapid liberalization and Special Economic Zones.
    • Originally located in 5 coastal cities, have now expanded into the interior.
    • Job possibilities attract rural migrants: housing and environmental concerns.
  • High acid rain levels correspond with locations of SEZ.
china and wto
China and WTO
  • China became member of WTO in 2001
    • Critics argue that China should not be a member because of its human rights and environmental abuses.
    • Proponents argue that with greater integration into the global system China can be pressured to reform
political dissent in china
Political Dissent in China
  • China has a long history of brutally suppressing political dissent.
    • Tiananmen Square 1989.
    • Fears of government reprisals may prevent people from demanding environmental reform from the central government.
  • Growth of highly literate population, the internet, and a more free media may be signs of change
coal in china
Coal in China
  • China has one of the largest coal reserves in the world
  • Coal provides 75% of China’s energy needs. Coal consumption doubled between 1977 and 1999
  • Coal releases Sulfur dioxide and Particulates.
    • In many Chinese cities levels exceed WHO guidelines by 10 times.
  • Distribution of coal pollution correlates with state directed industrial planning.
  • Fears of stifling economic growth prevents central government from taking action to regulate environmental degradation.
  • Economic losses from environmental damage may undo the gains China has made in economic development.
three gorges dam
Three Gorges Dam
  • Largest engineering project in history: 600 feet high and 1.4 miles wide.
  • Designed to provide 10 tenth of China’s electricity demands: would lessen its dependence on coal with a “clean source”.