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Environmental Issues of China


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Title: Environmental Issues of China

Environmental Issues of China
EnvironmentalIssues in East Asia(Fig. 11.2)
Environmental Consequences
  • Grassland degradation
  • Soil erosion
  • Overgrazing
  • Salinization
  • Water pollution and shortage
  • Freshwater
  • Groundwater depletion
  • Oceans
  • Loss of biodiversity increase in invasive
  • Chinas environmental problems are among the most
    severe of any major country and are getting
  • Air pollution
  • Land Degradation
  • Cropland losses
  • Desertification
  • Disappearing wetlands

  • Other East Asian Environmental Problems
  • Forests and Deforestation
  • Little conservation of forests in China much
    more in Japan
  • Reforestation programs have been unsuccessful
  • Substantial forests found in the far north and
    along Tibetan border
  • China may need to import wood products for

  • Chinas natural forests have been declining over
    the last 50 years
  • Deserts are forming quickly due to this
  • A desert in China will bury an area the size of
    New Jersey every five years
  • Since 1949, the area that was covered by trees in
    China was about 14.4 million Mha
  • A few years ago, the forested area in China was
    only .7 Mha
  • Lumber production has grown to accommodate the
    demands for the growing population to make
  • Despite a logging ban passed in 1999, the damage
    has already been done
  • China suffers from soil erosion and flooding

Impacts 2/3 of Chinas Forests Lost, Leading to
Floods and Deserts
Image Sources The Guardian, BBC News, True
Impacts 25 of Chinas Land Becoming Desert
Image Sourcse BBC News, New York Times, World
  • This is common in China
  • During 2003, Chinas EPA reported that the Gobi
    Desert had grown by 52, 400 km
  • About 900 square miles of land each year become
    desert in China
  • This is due to drought, overgrazing, incorrect
    use of ground water, and logging
  • Due to this, dust storms and sandstorms are more
  • Expanding deserts cause China to lose about 1
    million acres of land each year

  • Every time the desert grows by 2,500 km, China
    loses about 2 to 3 billion dollars annually
  • In 2001, a new law was passed to try to control
  • It asked that land occupants plant trees in areas
    where deforestation had already occurred
  • And this has begun to slowly help

Over grazing- increase in number of goat, sheep
and cattle
Increasing desertification, the Gobi desert
expanded by 52,400 km2 from 1994 to 1999 Winter
storms create enormous dust storms affecting
Korea and Japan
Water Shortage
  • Unevenly distributed North only 1/3 of South
  • 100 cities suffer from severe shortages, halting
    industrial production. 300 cities out of Chinas
    617 Cities suffer from shortage
  • 2/3 from groundwater mining salt water
    intrusion in coastal areas and subsidence in some
  • Worlds worst cessation of river flows. Yellow
    river stopped flowing during 20 of the years
  • Number of days without flow up from 90 in 1980 to
    230 in 1997

Water shortage
  • Competition rural
  • urban intensifying
  • Residential use incr.
  • from 31 to 134 bil. tons
  • from 1995 to 2003
  • while industrial use
  • Incr. from 52 to 269 bil.
  • ton
  • Farmers can not
  • compete economically
  • 1000 ton of water in
  • agriculture 200
  • while in industry it
  • 14,000 of profit.
  • Virtual water?

The farmer holds a small irrigator used to lift
water out of a canal using small buckets
Impacts Water - Shortage and Pollution
  • More than 100 of China's 660 cities face extreme
    water shortages.
  • China supports 21 of the world's population with
    just 7 of its water supplies.

Image Sourcse CNN.
  • Nearly 90 of China's cities and 75 of its lakes
    are impacted by water pollution.
  • Coastal waters suffer from urban run-off, red
    tides, and biodiversity loss.

Water Shortage Pollution
  • Hard to meet the water needs of the rising
    population, especially when such large numbers of
    people are concentrated in the cities, further
    straining water supplies.
  • This water shortage prevents the river from
    flushing its heavy load of pollutants into the
    Yellow Sea. At the same time, the quantity of
    wastewater dumped into the river from nonindustry
    sources has increased, resulting in
    ever-deteriorating conditions (Karasov 2002).
  • Some areas are categorized as not even fit to be
    touched by people (Karasov 2002).

Water Pollution
  • Mainland China has only a per-capita share of
    2700 cubic meters per annum, ¼ of the world's
    average. 2/3 of China's 660 largest cities face
    water deficits.
  • Beijing is among the cities most affected.
  • "Surface water pollution across the country is
    still relatively grave 59.9 percent of rivers
    were grade 3 or better, 23.7 percent of rivers
    were grade 4 or 5 and 16.4 percent failed to meet
    any grade standard. (China State of the
    Environment 2010)

  • Other East Asian Environmental Problems (cont.)
  • Mounting Pollution
  • Chinas development causing water pollution,
    toxic waste dumping, and air pollution from the
    burning of high sulfur coal
  • Japan, Taiwan, South Korea have implemented
    stringent pollution controls and established
    pollution-generating industries outside of their
    countries to reduce pollution
  • Environmental Issues in Japan
  • Japan has a relatively clean environment
  • Environmental restrictions, cleanup and pollution
  • Pollution exporting Location of their dirtier
    factories elsewhere in the world

Water pollution
  • Second most severe env. health problem
  • Sewage, agricultural and industrial waste
    contaminates water supplies and cause many
  • Much surface and groundwater is declared heavily
    polluted by heavy metals incl. lead, mercury,
    cadmium, arsenic and fluorides.
  • Chinas per capita water availability only ¼ of
    world average - shortage

Arsenic contaminated water
Skeletal fluorosis
Water Pollution
  • Due to Chinas population being over one billion,
    their water supply is slowly disappearing.
  • Their water is also being contaminated by the
    industrial growth with benzene which causes
  • For example, on November 24, 2005, there was an
    explosion at a chemical plant in northeastern
  • It spilled 100 tons of benzene in the Songhua
  • Due to this, the city of Harbin was forced to
    shut its water supply to 3.8 million people for a

Water Pollution
  • More than 700 mio people consume drinking water
    contaminated with levels of animal and human
    excreta that exceed maximum permissible levels by
    as much as 86 in rural areas and 28 in urban
  • By 1996 only 5 of industrial and 17 of domestic
    waste received any treatment before being
    discharged in rivers, lakes, oceans etc. However
    these percentages are increasing
  • Also dramatic increase in fresh water aquaculture

Chinas Polluted Water (Picture)
  • http//www.abc.net.au/reslib/200708/r171792_646585

The Polluted Yellow River!
Migrant worker, shoveling extremely polluted
water and mud from a nearly dried
river. (Johnson,Tim. China's Environmental Woes
are so Large They've Begun to Generate Social
Instability. http//earthhopenetwork.net/economic_
Water Pollution
  • Substances such as cadmium, lead, DDT, coliform
    bacteria, and arsenic have been found in the
    rivers (Some Polluted Outlets 2004).
  • The decline in water conditions across China is
    directly related to China's population growth,
    strong economic growth, and uncontrolled
    urbanization and semiurbanization (Karasov
  • In 1996, governmental officials in the country
    reported that 40 of the sections of the Huang
    and Yangtze rivers near major cities did not even
    fulfill the minimum standards of water quality
    (Environmental Health Perspectives 2002).

Water Pollution Waste Water
  • Waste water is when raw sewage is dumped into the
    rivers and carries water-borne diseases like
    typhoid, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis
  • This leads to health epidemics and deaths
  • It also contaminates farmland due to irrgation.

Cancer mortality from water pollution - TVE

  • Increase in cancer mortality over time in control
    area, polluted and most polluted townships
  • Show that increased pollution results in
    increased mortality
  • steady increase in cancer mortality over time in
    polluted areas

Liver and stomach cancer deaths doubled since
the 1970s. China has Highest liver cancer dead
rate in the world
Cancer mortality and birth defects changes to
Impact of new practice of using industrial
wastewater for irrigation 70 km long canal build
in 1960, daily received 400,000 m3 of untreated
wastewater from coalmines and petrochemical,
power and chemical plants increasing cancer
mortality and birth defect
Ocean pollution
Air Pollutants
  • Sulfates
  • Sulfur dioxide---China is the worlds leading
    source of---respiratory and cardiovascular
    disease and acid rain---25.5 million tons each
  • Ozone
  • Black carbon---produced by cars, stoves,
    factories and crop burning
  • Desert dust--from sand and dust storms in the
    Gobi Desert
  • Mercury

Air pollution
  • Most severe env. health problem
  • 3 out of 4 city dwellers live below Chinas
    air-quality standards
  • Acid rain fell on a quarter of cities for more
    than 60 of rainy days
  • High mortality rate from lung disease,
  • High rate of lung cancer because of smoking
  • Iron, steel and chemical factories spew sot, fly
    ash and sulfur dioxide into the air
  • Pollutant trapped in the valley and within the
    walls of the city. 2 million people live Taiyuan
    Shansi Province

(No Transcript)
Air Pollution
  • "Overall urban air quality is good with
    relatively heavy pollution in some cities. Among
    471 cities, 3.6 percent met grade 1 air quality
    standard, 79.2 percent met grade 2, 15.5 percent
    met grade 3 and 1.7 percent failed to met grade
  • Interpretation Almost one in five cities still
    fails to meet the low passing grade set by the
    government on an annual basis.

Photograph Guang Niu/Getty Images
China Air Pollution
  • 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in

Air Pollution
  • In Nov 2010, Chinas EPA published a report that
    said 1/3 of 113 cities had failed to meet the
    national air standards
  • According to the Chinese government, 1/5 of
    Chinas urban population breathe heavily polluted
  • Many places smell like high-sulfur coal and
    leaded gasoline

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Impacts Air Pollution
  • Nearly 30 of respiratory disease in China is
    attributed to air pollution.
  • 500 major cities in China exceed safe air quality
  • Acid rain affects more than 30 of the country.

Image Source Stephanie B. Ohshita, 2005.
  • Over 75 of Chinas SO2 pollution, acid rain, and
    CO2 emissions come from coal combustion.

Air Pollution
  • Smog is so bad in Beijing and Shanghai that the
    airports are often shut down due to poor
  • This just happened on January 29, 2013
  • In January 2012, more than 150 flights to and
    from Beijing were canceled due to smog
  • Highways have been closed due to smog
  • The air quality in Beijing is 16 times worse than
  • Sometimes you cannot see the building a few
    blocks away
  • A blue sky is rare
  • In Shanghai, you often cannot see the street from
    the 5th floor window

Air Pollution
  • Only 1 of Chinas 560 million city dwellers are
    considered safe by the World Bank
  • From space, astronauts can see the smog over

China Air Pollution Causes
  • fossil fuels
  • Coal
  • For industry and heating homes.
  • Coal is cheap but pollutes the air.
  • Factories
  • Vehicles

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Lack of Industrial Controls
  • Great economic development during the 1980s led
    to increased pollution.
  • Demand has risen over time in China and
    industries have met this with increased output.
    They have not added any controls to the air
    released from smokestacks, though.
  • By 2020, Chinas carbon dioxide emissions will
    surpass the U.S., and the United States and China
    would contribute more to global warming than all
    other nations combined.

Statistics in this slide are from China Revs Up
2004 unless otherwise labeled.
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Air Pollution
  • Now nine out of the ten cities said to have the
    most serious air pollution in the world are
    located in China (Schmidt 2002).
  • Urban haze fills the air with the appearance of
  • Ding Yihui, of the China National Climate Center,
    explains This smog is mainly smoke though, not
    fog which would be comprised of water vapor.
  • In the large cities of China, substances such as
    lead, sulfur, carbon monoxide and tiny particles
    of dust are in the air.
  • Respiratory diseases cause ten times as many
    fatalities as in the United States.

Statistics in this slide are from China Revs Up
2004 unless otherwise labeled.
China has the most deaths from urban air
pollution in the world. (Worldwatch Institute.
Coal, China, and India A Deadly Combination for
Air Pollution?, http//www.worldwatch.org/features
A picture of downtown Hangzhou, China hazy with
smog (Skiba, Tom. Smog in downtown Hangzhou
China, http//cai.blogware.com/blog/Photos/China/
Effects of Air Pollution
  • Evan Osnos lived in Beijing and in The New Yorker
    he wrote,
  • After four years in Beijing, I have learned how
    to gauge the pollution before I open the
    curtains by dawn on the smoggiest days, the
    lungs ache.
  • The US Embassy in Beijing installed an air
    monitor on its roof and every hour on Twitter it
    posts the score from 1 being the cleanest to 500
    the dirtiest
  • It is normally around 500 and public health
    notices are constantly posted that you should
    avoid all physical activity outside.
  • The only time any American city ever reached 300
    was in the midst of a forest fire

China - Effects of Air Pollution
  • up to 656,000 premature deaths each year
  • Crop damage
  • Climate change
  • Only 1 of people in cities breathe safe air

Effects of Air Pollution
  • Different colored smog
  • Gray comes from iron deposits blown from steel
  • White comes from the chemical factories
  • Black comes form the coal mines and plants

Effects of Air Pollution
  • China has the worlds highest number of deaths
    attributed to air pollution
  • In 2007, the WHO estimated that 656,000 Chinese
    died prematurely due to indoor and outdoor air
  • Air pollution causes premature babies, low-birth
    weight babies, and depresses lung functions in
    healthy people
  • Lung cancer is the number one cause of death in
  • Asthma is on the rise
  • Reduced crop production because the smog blocks
    sunlight over 2/3 of eastern China where rice and
    wheat are harvested

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Car Emissions
  • Huge shift recently towards driving cars and in
    some areas of the cities, bicycles are no longer
    allowed (Global Refining 2004).
  • Most cars built by foreign companies, because
    leaders wanted foreign investors.
  • Cars sold in China have much older equipment to
    control emissions than cars sold in Europe or the
    United States
  • Emissions standards in China are much lower than
    in Europe and the U.S.

Statistics in this slide are from China Revs Up
2004 unless otherwise labeled.
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CO2 emission - China
  • Indoor air pollution. Women in Xuan Wei in Yunnan
    province has the highest lung cancer rate among
    Chinese women. From the burning of unclean coals
    in the homes without ventilation
  • Improving as industries achieve emission
    standards change from coal to gas

Social equity on CO2 emission
  • CO2 emission, largely a by-product of energy
    production and use
  • Low and middle income countries have seen a
    relatively much higher increase in CO2 emission

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Chinas problem A global issue
  • China largest contributor of
  • Sulfur oxides
  • Chorofluorocarbons
  • Ozone depleting substances and
  • Carbon dioxides

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Coal and Air Pollution
  • Coal is the number one source of air pollution in
  • China gets 80 of its electricity and 70 of its
    total power from coal
  • Around 6 million tons of coal is burned everyday
    to power factories, heat homes, cook meals

  • 70 of energy is from coal, used for electricity
    and forging steel.
  • Most homes and businesses use coal.
  • Coal is cheap and extremely dirty, releasing
    sulfur and other chemicals when burned.
  • Some businesses in big cities have switched over
    to fossil fuels, but most still rely heavily on
  • Previously the government had claimed that the
    cost of solving the problem by building cleaner
    factories was too high.
  • Governmental leaders are starting to order
    businesses to clean up, and some of the worst
    polluting factories to shut-down.

Statistics in this slide are from China Revs Up
Reliance on coal
  • China's coal consumption in 2010 was 3.2 billion
    metric tonnes (2.3 B in 2006)
  • Mainly for production of electricity (73)
  • Also by some industries (Steel)

Cars are now taking over the roads  (Engler, Yves
Mugyenyi Bianca. Chinas Cars on Road to Ruin.
Bicycles once filled the streets of China
(Wayne, J. Pen. Go Go Speed Racer.
Urbanization and Power Shortages
  • Although China has recently experienced
    incredible urban expansion, many people suggest
    that the urbanization in Chinas cities is not
    sustainable (Shi and Tu 2006).
  • The pace of urbanization is forcing the country
    to use more oil and natural gas and has created a
    country hungry for electricity, which in turn
    effects the global environment, as well as
    Chinas local environment (Zweig and Jianhai

Massive power shortage
  • Power shortages yearly since 2004 insufficient
    generating capacity, fuel shortages, blackout
    ordered to meet a year-end energy-efficiency
  • deficit of 30 million kilowatt hours this summer

Soil erosion affects 19 of land
  • As a result of human activity, such as
  • Deforestation for agriculture and logging
  • Destruction of vegetation (grassland)
  • Cultivation on steep slopes
  • Drying out of wetlands for agriculture and city
  • Consequences
  • Deposition of sediment in the river bed causing
    more frequent flooding leading to the deposition
    of coarse sediment particles and secondary
  • In one area more than doubling the area of eroded
    land from the 1960s to 80s

Severity of Human Induced Soil Degradation
The destruction of agricultural land poses a big
problem for Chinas food security
Consequences for Chinas people
  • Socio-economic losses
  • 72 mil per year is spend to control just one
    weed imported from Brazil for pig forage
  • 250 mil in annual loss arising from factory
    closure due to shortage of water just in one city
  • Sand storm damage app 540 mil/year
  • Acid rain damage to crop and forest 730 mil/year
  • 6 bil cost of green wall to protect Beijing
  • 7 bil/year losses due to desertification
  • 7 bil/year due to losses from other alien
  • 27 bil loss due to flood in 1998
  • 54 bil/year losses due to water and air pollution

Consequences for Chinas people
  • Health cost
  • 1996 to 2001 spending on public health incr. by
  • App 300,000 death/year due to air pollution
  • Lead blood level in cities twice the level
    considered to be dangerous
  • Natural disasters
  • AD300 to 1949 dust storms once every 31 years.
    Since 1990 almost one every year soil erosion
  • Drought damage about 160,000 km2 of cropland
    every year double the area in 1950s
  • Increasing flood frequency

China in the global village
  • The shear size of Chinas population, its
    landmass and economy guarantee that its
    environmental problems will spread to the rest of
    the world
  • Beneficial and harmful imports
  • China importing natural gas and oil reduces
    environmental damage from the use of coal
  • Countries transferring pollution-intensive
    industries to China using technology often
    prohibited in the exporting country
  • China paid to accept toxic trash from developed
    countries (increased from 1 mio to 11 mio t/p.a.
  • Exports causing damage at home
  • Products go abroad but pollution stays at home

China in the global village
  • Invasive spices exported (chestnut blight, Dutch
    elm disease, Asian long-horned beetle)
  • Exports air pollution into the atmosphere
  • Exports deforestation. Chinas import of wood has
    increased 6 fold mainly from Malaysia, Papa New
    Guinea and Brazil

Chinas problem A global issue
  • Dust and aerial pollutants already impact
    neighboring countries
  • Leading importer of tropical rainforest timber
    a driving force behind tropical deforestation
  • What will happen if China achieves 1st world
    standard of living with 1st world environmental
    impact per capita
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