The Chinese economy is on a historic run, achieving in succession double-digit growth rates. It is a very awkward situation for country because the economic achievement slowly becomes their biggest burden. More than 500 million people use contaminated water by human and industrial waste as their primary resource. The negative health results are seen in the large number of gastrointestinal cancer deaths in rural regions.
Almost all national lakes and rivers are polluted to some extent. According to a Chinese government report, 70 percent of rivers, lakes and waterways are seriously polluted and some without fish, and around 80 percent of the water from rivers is not fit for human consumption. Pressure for change exists, but many people refuse to accept the need for a new more environment friendly approach. International pressure is also increasing since the magnitude of the Chinese pollution has become a global problem.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain in neighboring countries.There has also been an increased occurrence of climate-related disasters such as drought and flood. Such events have grave consequences for productivity when they occur, and can create serious repercussions for natural environment and infrastructure. The climate changes threaten the lives of billions and aggravate poverty. The conflict between development and nature had never been so serious, with a strong possibility of future environmental and economical crises.
The cost of rapid development
If China intends to quadruple the size of its economy over 20 years without more damage, it has to become more efficient in resource use. The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the deterioration of the environment are becoming serious bottlenecks constraining economic and social development. Alarmed by the amount of pollution found in rivers, Chinese government has begun enacting new environmental regulations and laws that take more action in cleaning up process. Beijing is finally closing polluting factories, building new sewage treatment plants and changing bad agricultural practices.
China has achieved some improvements in environmental protection during the recent years. According to the World Bank, China is one of a few countries in the world that have been rapidly increasing their forest cover. It is managing to reduce air and water pollution. As part of US $498 billion economic stimulus package of November 2008), the Chinese government plans to enhance sewage and rubbish treatment facilities and prevent water pollution, accelerate green belt and natural forest planting programs. Energy conservation initiatives and pollution control projects funding has also been increased.
With $34.6 billion invested in clean technology in 2009, China is the world's leading investor in renewable energy technologies. Wind turbines and solar panels are produced in record numbers per year, more than any other country in the world. Hopefully, the Chinese people will find the balance between the growth they desire and the nature they need in the near future, thus minimizing the negative effects of the past growth.