International Environmental Concerns in Economics: The Case of China

A multiplicity of environmental problems and challenges now affect our entire world, and the problems are becoming increasingly serious to warrant international concern.

Today, more than ever before, environmental challenges such as acid rain, air pollution, hazardous solid waste, destruction of natural ecosystems, water pollution, and overpopulation, among others, continue to affect societies, particularly in countries with inadequate or inefficient policies and frameworks geared towards environmental management (Thomas-Hope, 1998). This paper purposes to evaluate some of the persistent environmental problems in China and how the country is dealing with the issues.

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For decades now, China has been struggling with the problems of habitat and biodiversity loss and air pollution, and analysts are quick to point out that these environmental challenges largely emanate from yet another environmental concern known as overpopulation (WWF, n.d.). China is the most populous nation in the world, with one-fifth of the global population residing in the country.

The country’s population impact is clearly evident not only in China, but across national boarders as the demands of the huge Chinese market pose serious threats to biodiversity and air pollution as far away as Africa. In china, ill-planned hydrological engineering projects and conversion of wetlands for agriculture intended to feed the huge population have caused untold destruction on the country’s habitat and ecosystems, in the process driving species such as the revered pandas out of their natural homes (WWF, n.d.).

Natural forests continue to be cleared for food production, timber and fuel-wood, further aggravating the situation. The high demand for automobiles to serve the high Chinese population in addition to the indiscriminate opening of factories that depend entirely on coal have been noted as some of the major causes of air pollution in the country.

The problem of air pollution can be scientifically validated by evidence that respiratory and heart diseases related to air pollution are the foremost cause of mortality in China (WWF, n.d.). In addition, air pollution costs the Chinese economy in excess of 10 percent of its GDP annually. Of all the species documented by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as fundamentally endangered, just about a quarter are found in China, demonstrating scientific evidence of the implications of habitat and biodiversity loss.

In terms of correctional measures, the Chinese government has been closing down many of the polluting factories and giving incentives to industries that are cleaner (Sasso, 2007). This is aimed at lessening air pollution while laying the focus on economic expansion to meet the ever increasing demand. China is also increasingly relying on nuclear-generated energy to reduce emissions coming from coal-operated industries.

In habitat and biodiversity loss, the Chinese government is allocating more resources towards the protection of endangered species and in efforts aimed at reconstituting the natural ecosystem through reforestation practices (Gallagher, 2006). China is also imposing stiffer penalties on illegal wildlife hunters and poachers.

It is important to note that stakeholders have been faced with challenges in their attempts to implement these policies and laws aimed at curtailing the discussed environmental problems. Particularly, China has been faced with challenges in its attempts to control air pollution largely due to conflicting goals between its development agenda and environmental conservation (Gallagher, 2006).

The large population demands a sustained expansion of the economy to meet its needs, but this expansion has to a large extent caused air pollution. In addition, some industries continue to utilize loopholes contained in the policies and laws to continue polluting the environment through massive emissions.

It is also costly to build nuclear plants that will fulfill and sustain China’s energy needs, not mentioning that some industries want to generate more revenues by using cheaper sources of energy, such as coal, which ends up polluting the environment. Lastly, the government has been blamed for laxity in implementing policies and laws that will nip the problem of air pollution in the bud before it brings the country down to its knees.

In habitat and diversity loss, challenges have emanated from cross-boarder poaching and ignorant destruction of the natural habitat by the local populations, who seem unenthusiastic to conserve the environment for future generations (Gallagher, 2006). Still, many analysts especially in the tourism industry feel the government is not doing enough to protect the endangered species from further destruction.

There are some recommendations that China could adopt to curtail the environmental problems discussed in this paper. In terms of air pollution, the government should design a policy aimed at making the various industries accountable for their pollution behaviors.

Such a policy would entail imposing an economic cost on factories based on the amount of hazardous emissions released into the environment (Gallagher, 2006). Such a policy will not only work to discourage the industries from releasing emissions into the environment, but will serve as an incentive to embrace newer and safer methods of generating energy.

In addition, the money received from the polluting factories could be used to cater for the health needs of people who continue to suffer various ailments as a direct consequence of the air pollution. In terms of habitat and biodiversity loss, education, awareness, and involvement of the locals is needed to curtail further loss. As already mentioned, many locals engage in habitat destruction due to sheer ignorance and lack of adequate knowledge (Gallagher, 2006).

When the information is availed, it will assist them realize the importance of coexisting with other species and discourage further poaching of endangered species. Involving the locals in habitat management and sharing in the accrued benefits will provide them with a platform to protect the resources as a source of economic wellbeing, thus curtail urges for further destruction.

Reference List

Gallagher, K.S. (2006). China shifts gear: Automakers, oil, pollution, and development. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sasso, M. (2007). China says its cleaning up products, pollution. Retrieved November 7 2010

Thomas-Hope, E. (1998). Solid waste management: Critical issues for developing countries. Kingston: Canoe Press.

World Wildlife Fund. (n.d.). Environmental problems in China. Retrieved November 7 2010


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