Saturday, May 4, 2013

Social Justice Saturday - Pollution in China

I've been wanting to do a weekly post about social justice/environmental issues but don't feel like I have to time to do it justice on a regular basis.  So, instead I'll treat this topic like I do food - I'll post about it on a semi-regular basis so I don't have the weekly pressure to put out a blog post on the topic.   This week I ran across information about health and pollution in China and thought it important to share.

While people in the US continue to politicize environmental issues, the children (and adults) of China are experiencing very real consequences of the blatant disregard for the health of the planet.  While we bicker back and forth about whether or not our actions are causing climate change and if industry and the associated chemicals are doing any damage to us and the environment, China is experiencing extreme levels of air and water pollution with very real consequences.   According to the New York Times,  each year more than 1.2 million Chinese people die from air pollution.  Additionally, Business Week reports that birth defects, such as neural tube defects, have skyrocketed due to air and water pollution.  You can go to EcoWatch to read about it and to get the links to the sources.

Since the US is China's largest customer, we are culpable in this horrendous story.  While I hear people complain about the Chinese and others who are "taking our jobs," I rarely hear anyone talk about what our insatiable desire for stuff is doing to the people and the places overseas where it is all manufactured.  Do those who complain really understand (or care to understand) the pain and suffering our prosperity creates in the producing nations?  Would they like to live under these conditions:
I grew up in the Los Angeles basin and smog alerts were a regular occurrence.  When we had the alerts, children were kept inside as it wasn't healthy to go outside to play.  I understand the air there is much cleaner than it was during my childhood.  Part of the change is due to things like emission controls on motor vehicles.  But I think another reason is that we've shipped the problem overseas.  So it really hasn't gone away, it has just moved to where Americans don't have to see it.  How wrong is that?


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