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CHINA & THE ENVIRONMENT
How China’s Rapid Economic Growth is Leading to an Environmental Catastrophe
• After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the
communist government set up a five year plan (similar to that
of the USSR) that would industrialize and improve the
economy of China.
• This plan worked well beyond the expectations of the
communist party and would set the stage for more economic
growth in the future.
• By the 21st Century, China is an economic powerhouse. Due
to the rapid growth, this nation is becoming a huge part of the
global community and may become a superpower itself.
• However, what was the cost of this growth?
Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s
Republic of China.
Pollution & Other Problems
• Perhaps the greatest effect of its extremely rapid growth is the pollution
this has caused as well as environmental issues.
• Like in the industrialization of Western nations, the industrialization of
China has had some negative side effects in the form of pollution.
• Air pollution is a massive problem. Due to the heavy use of coal (in fact
its use of coal accounts for about 50% of the global annual usage of this
fossil fuel), cities like Beijing have smog problems.
• Water pollution, air pollution and a huge amount of waste have resulted
from the industrialization of China. Not only that, but other activities
have resulted in negative effects on the environment (such as the
construction of the Three Gorges Dam).
• Deforestation is also a big problem. Due to the need for land to produce
food and living space, many of China’s forests have been destroyed.
• Desertification is another problem. This is where the land literally
becomes desert. The result of this not only includes less and less land to
use for agricultural purposes, but also relocation of people who were once
• Other issues related to China include a shrink in wetlands and lakes (due
to this growth) and increasing demand of endangered animal parts (such
as rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks and shark fins) as well as the other
Speaking of the Three Gorges Dam.
Effects on the People
• Air pollution is believed to be responsible for 500,000
premature deaths in China annually.
• Water pollution, and the destruction of water sources
have caused ½ of all of the cities in China to have no
water that meets acceptable hygiene standards.
• China’s hydroelectric plants have also been built at the
cost of destroying human settlements and displacing
entire cities. Desertification is also causing people to
migrate to other areas, in search of new farmland or for
• There are “cancer villages”, where just living there
could cause you to have cancer. This is also due to the
pollution in China.
Effects on the Environment
• Pollution of major water sources (90% of underground water under
cities and 70% of China’s rivers are now polluted), the disappearance of
13% of China’s lakes and a 50% loss of Chinese wetlands has a huge
effect on China’s environment.
• This (on top of hydroelectric dam development) has caused many
species to become endangered or completely extinct. One example is the
Chinese Sturgeon, who is now endangered due to difficulties in
spawning as a result of the construction of these dams.
• Destruction of habitat has also taken its toll on the local wildlife.
Deforestation is one of the reasons that the Giant Panda is endangered.
• The consumption of shark fin soup has also lead to a decline in the
global shark population. This hunting (along with pollution) has lead to
many shark species becoming endangered.
• The use of body parts of endangered species, such as using elephant
tusks for art or rhinoceros horns for medicine, has also lead to the
further decline of certain species (some of which are not even located in
On the Globe as a Whole
• Not only does China’s air pollution cause problems for its citizens, it also is a contributor to
adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
• As well as contributing to global warming (due to CO2 emissions), it is also adding to the air
pollutions of other cities, such as Los Angeles. Scientists have been able to trace some
pollutants in this city’s smog to Chinese factories.
• As stated in the previous slide, animal populations from other places have declined due to the
actions of Chinese people as well as the actions of other nations. Their actions are assisting in
the global extinction event that is resulting from human activity.
• Rage over what is going on in China is occurring too.
What You Can Do!
• You can help by not adding to the problem yourself. Things like carpooling, using less
electricity, using less water, recycling and other things you can do to lessen your effect
on the environment can help.
• You can also help by supporting other groups participating in the same cause. This
includes organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and other groups.
• Finally, you can help this cause by raising awareness. By doing this, you can help
spread the word and bring others together for this cause. This may get the Chinese
government to do more about the damage being done due to this nation’s
• Remember, you are able to help determine what will happen to our planet. Hopefully,
you will make the right choice.
• Duggan, Jennifer. "China's Coal Emissions Responsible for 'quarter of a Million
Premature Deaths'" The Guardian. The Guardian, 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 22 May 2015.
• "Environmental Problems in China." WWF. WWF, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Lallanilla, Marc. "China's Top 6 Environmental Concerns." LiveScience. TechMedia
Network, 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Leiva, Leonid. "The Causes of China's Record Level Fine Particulate Pollution in Winter
2013." The Causes of China's Record Level Fine Particulate Pollution in Winter 2013.
Phys.org, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Sang, Kung. "Industrializing China: Preliminary Stage." Industrializing China:
Preliminary Stage. Peking Review. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Three Gorges Dam." International Rivers. International Rivers. Web. 22 May 2015.
• "Wetland Conservation and Restoration." WWF China. WWF, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Xu, Benia. "China's Environmental Crisis." Council on Foreign Relations. Council on
Foreign Relations, 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Slide 2: “Mao Zedong” Biography for Kids:. Ducksters. Web. 22 May 2015
• Slide 3: Three Gorges Dam." International Rivers. International Rivers. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Slide 4: "23 Shocking Photos Reveal How Bad China's Pollution Problem Has Become." Earth
Porm. Earth Porm, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 May 2015.
• Slide 5: "Chinese Sturgeons, Chinese Sturgeon Pictures, Chinese Sturgeon Facts - National
Geographic." National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.