A Daunting Problem

No wonder we’re importing dangerous and potentially lethal products from China. Consider how Chinese citizens live.

Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.

–Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley, New York Times

The article mentions that the leading cause of death in China is cancer from pollution, and that almost half a billion people have no safe drinking water. Only 1 percent of the 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe.

The article explores the juggernaut of China’s economic progress and the massive use of polluting natural resources (such as coal) that drives it, and how the Communist government is vulnerable to social backlash because people are suffering horribly. The article provides some interesting if grim statistics about the impact of environmental degradation on human life and on the stability of China’s government and economy. In a country so populous, it seems that all forms of life are considered expendable.

Here’s the entire article: As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes, by Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley

We are all inextricably linked to this and directly contribute to the problem, because we purchase items produced in China. Yet it seems impossible to avoid Chinese-made goods. I look on packaging to see where an item is made and usually only see that it’s “distributed by” an American company. What can we do to protect ourselves? What will we do? And can that have any impact whatsoever on the quality of life in China?

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6 Comments on “A Daunting Problem”

  1. mercie Says:

    There’s a book I heard about recently but I don’t remember the title but it was on npr and it was written by a woman whose family went one year without buying anything from China. I bet you could find it at npr. I sounded worth the effort.

  2. Emy Says:

    The book that Mercie referenced is called “A Year Without ‘Made In China'” by Sara Bongiorni.

  3. Emy Says:

    And also there were some NPR stories about the book available here:

    (If that doesn’t get you there, the piece ran on Morning Edition on July 18th; you should be able to find it in the archives)

    I think I also saw something in Newsweek Online recently about this?

  4. Kathryn Says:

    Thanks for the info. I had heard about the book and the recent issue of Newsweek mentioned it. They summarized the book by saying the upshot of her endeavor was: it’s very very hard.

  5. Cathy Says:

    I am so haunted by the sudden termination of Endment’s Blog. Do you know what happened and if she’s all right? Thanks so much.

    mushduck at yahoo dot com

  6. Kathryn Says:

    Hi Cathy. No, I don’t know what happened with Endment’s blog. Her last post said she was busy. I assume she just got caught up with off-line life.