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China’s Economic Growth And Its Environmental Impact

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

China’s rapid growth and its profound effect on the environment.

Pollution and power lines in northern China. (Adam Cohn/Flickr)

Pollution and power lines in northern China. (Adam Cohn/Flickr)

Smelly foam oozing from the streets of Beijing. Smog so thick, you can’t see the next block. China is home to one fifth of humanity.   It produces a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and receives almost half of all the coal burned on earth.  And, its appetite for energy won’t peak for years.

How did the air, water, wildlife and dirt in China get so bad? What can be done to fix it?  Our guest today warns of global environmental disaster and he’s in the thick of it.

This hour On Point:  China’s assault on Planet Earth.

Guests

Craig Simons, author of “The Devouring Dragon: How China’s Rise Threatens Our Natural World” and a longtime reporter in Asia for various newspapers.

Book Excerpt

Read Chapter 1 of “The Devouring Dragon”

From The Reading List

The Guardian: China’s Environmental Problems Are Grim, Admits Ministry Report — “The 2012 Environmental Conditions Report addressed water and air pollution, the two types of pollution that have received the most attention over recent months. The report found that 57.3% of the groundwater in 198 cities in 2012 was “bad” or “extremely bad”, while more than 30% of the country’s major rivers were “polluted” or “seriously polluted”. According to the ministry’s report, the air in only 27 out of 113 key cities reached air quality standards last year.”

The New York Times: U.S. And China Move Closer On North Korea, But Not On Cyberespionage — “Although the leaders of the world’s two biggest powers made no public statements on their second day of talks, their disagreements — over cyberattacks as well as arms sales to Taiwan, maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea and manipulation of the Chinese currency — spilled into the open when senior officials from both countries emerged to describe the meetings in detail.”

Bloomberg: Water Management Biggest Risk To China Shale Gas, Bernstein Says — “China is the “biggest shale opportunity” outside of the U.S., according to Bernstein. The country has the world’s largest shale gas resources, estimated at 4,746 trillion cubic feet (134.4 trillion cubic meters), it said, citing data from the Ministry of Land and Resources and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

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  • Shag_Wevera

    Ironic that we use “do as I say, not as I’ve done” when it comes to other countries and their economic development or their pursuit of nuclear technology.  What right do we have, exactly?

    • JobExperience

       If you go off the grid and grow your own food people laugh at you and the authorities sabotage you. Ask Eustace Conway. (Bing the name.)

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    The picture in your lead-in just goes to show you that money and growth isn’t everything ! It also demonstrates that the basic accounting equation of : Assets = Liabilities + Owners Equity, is lacking in its’ ability to describe total assets.

    The title “ World population to reach 9.6 billion by 2050: UN report “ , from :

    http://www.newkerala.com/news/story/29828/world-population-to-reach-96-billion-by-2050-un-report.html

    ‘should be a wake up call to all of us. It should be at the heart of every discussion about pollution, hunger, poverty, resource depletion, climate change, species extinction, etc.. What is happening in China will happen in Africa soon, then what?
    Shall we wait ‘till there are no landfill areas left, or wait ‘till there is no top soil left, or wait ‘till there are no fish left to eat, or wait ‘till there are no bees left to pollinate, or wait ‘till there is no fresh water left to drink, or wait ‘till there is no oxygen left to breath ? Of course men such as Jeb Bush seem to think that ‘Immigrants are more fertile‘, as if that is a good thing! I wonder, Mr. Bush, just how many fertile people will it take to push the ecosystem to its’ tipping point ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      people such as jeb and his family are buying up the headwaters to the amazon

  • Unterthurn

    This is not only a China problem. It is a world problem. 

    Who are the end consumers of the Chinese products?

    But in the end the Chinese government is enabling the environmental damage by not protecting their own country and workers through regulation and enforcement.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      if they did that the price of their products would go up and we would not buy them

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Type your comment here.this is what America would be like without regulation like the clean air and water acts….wait… The oil and gas industries are exempt from those laws now and are poisoning our water supplies. Whoops, thank you Dubya and Cheney.

  • madnomad554

    The US makes up only 3% of the worlds total population, yet it creates 25% of the worlds garbage.

    Hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites…

    Those figures came from NG’s August 2010 issue, “State of the Planet”.

    • JobExperience

      We’d do better without advertising and consumerism.

      • madnomad554

         If I’m understanding you correctly, I agree. I think it takes a crafty advertisement less than 5 seconds to get the typical mass consumer to take a bite out of whatever carrot is being dangled in front of them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        how can we make money off that

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      an american has the same carbon footprint as a blue whale

      • madnomad554

        Considering this countries overweight and obesity issues, isn’t an american and a blue whale the same thing?

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          the whales are not overweight or obese. every american uses as much energy as a blue whale. its just a way to think about it

  • Shag_Wevera

    Although we still have some influence and impact on China, I don’t think they care what we think.

    • JobExperience

      They are in lust with our Oligarchs….. their Oligarchs I mean. You’re right no one in power cares what the People think.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      they need us to buy their junk who else is going to buy it all?

  • Rich11

    It’s ADDICTION – to fossil fuels. The world needs to burn hydrogen then the exhaust is WATER.

    But where would we get the energy to make hydrogen? Plenty of places. We could start with the mega volcano building up at Yellowstone for the last 600 thousand years or so.

    Use that energy to generate ELECTRICITY then use the ELECTRICITY to turn water into hydrogen.

    Plus ALL THE OTHER SOURCES – Wind, Solar, etc.

    BUT IT’S HARD TO BREAK ADDICTION!!!!

    Takes Discipline!!!! Without discipline you have CHAOS – that’s what we have it seems?

    It takes REAL LEADERS to ACCOMPLISH something effective like this AND we don’t have REAL LEADERS ANYMORE.

    Imagine trying to PUT A PERSON ON THE MOON? Could it be done?

    • Phillip Hanberry

      Youve taken old “underline the predicate” homework to a whole new level here. 

      But I cannot resist…How would you go about drawing enerygy from the “super volcano” under yellowstone?  Also if you could, would that be wise thing to do?  As little as we know about these things, any mingling could cause it to erupt prematurely. 

      Another thing, this addiction analogy is nonsense.  Anyone who makes this comparison knows nothing about addiction.  The fuel we put in our cars is a necessity to the average American…they have no other choice.  Most do not have the engineering skills to mcGuyver their cars with solar panels or olive oil…Not to mention electric cars are still out of reach – pricewise, for most americans. So please stop trolling the boards with phrases youve heard from tv or rallies.

      • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

         Actually, in any geothermal zone, you just drill down 1000ft and superheated steam comes blasting out from the water table. in Hawaii, with 4x more rain than avg US, that was limitless and safe because it was a slow erupting low-gas shield volcano. I’ve no doubt 100′s of gigawatts could be extracted from Yellowstone or the other 4 big GT areas.

         Keeping it from blowing up and venting 10cu miles of magma into the air, causing a volcanic winter….  is another story. I think it can be done safely, in fact extracting a lot of heat from these supervolcano zones would make them more stable.

        • Phillip Hanberry

          Or drilling into the ground could further weaken it making an eruption more likely over the area drilled.  Wonder how much the hazard pay would be?

          • JobExperience

            Works in Iceland. It’s not easy living in a tin crust area no matter what.
            Heroin addicts prefer heroin and gasoline addicts prefer gasoline.

          • Phillip Hanberry

            Oh look, someone else that knows nothing about addiction.  Give people an alternative and as long it works, they wont care too much.  Give a heroin addict something other than heroin, they will still withdraw (unless its an opoid blocker)

            We dont use gasoline/fossil fuels because were “addicted to it”, we use it because there is nothing else to use for the average consumer.  We are given gasoline because for the price, it is the most efficient.  Make something cheaper thats more efficient, and we will be “addicted” to that.

          • Yar

            Consumption is the addiction!  Do we really have to have that latest consumer good overnight?  Who pays the true cost?  Half the world lives on less than two dollars per day. Put that in addiction context. 

          • Phillip Hanberry

            Yes we do have to have it overnight if the economy is to survive it.  Comparing an extreme to normalcy is not fair in any context of argument.  The rich look at the middle class and wonder how we can survive on 40-50 dollars a day.  To them, that is suffering.  Consumption is not an addiction, its a necessity.  To thrive in this country, we need transportation to go to and from work. We could certainly cut down on our “wants” and focus on our “needs” but that will also devastate our economy.  Our foundation is built on consumption, to change it now, is to devastate all groundwork already laid.  The only answer is to invest into renewable energy and resources.  That I agree with.  I do not agree its an “addiction”. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            not to mention we are really good at consumption the best in the world

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            otherwise how would they be able to make our consumer goods so cheaply?

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            sort of like the earthquakes caused by fracking

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        iceland produces significant energy from geothermal.

      • Rich11

        Here is a link that somewhat explains tapping geothermal energy - http://www.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/geothermal-energy1.htm .
        There are probably better explanations out there but I wanted to provide a start! If you search on the internet you’ll probably find the explanation you want.

        I agree, fossil fuels are what is available now. It would take a moon landing scale project to shift the country and the world to hydrogen. BUT what would it take to clean up our planet? What are the medical costs for example due to all the environmental damage. Which costs more in the LONG RUN. AND I know – economists will tell you we’re all dead in the LONG RUN – but our descendants may be around for some time – why should we KILL THEM with poisons we put into the environment (the air AND water – don’t drink that water it could cause cancer)- just for MONEY?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

       Rich, I’m with you on renewables, but I think that hydrogen is a diversion.  It is very hard to handle and store and it takes at least 3X as much electricity to make hydrogen as you get out of it.  We can’t waste that much energy.

      Neil

      • JobExperience

        Some nitwit’s gonna yell Thorium here in a minute.
        Too much Popular Science propaganda.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          I tried to explain why the on board hydrogen generators are a scam and cars cannot run on water to a guy the other day. its hard when people do not understand basic physics

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        yup its a red herring. its one of those technologies thats always just a few years away. right not the hydrogen cars you see have a large chunk of platinum in the fuel cell. its clearly much more efficient to use electricity directly than to convert it to hydrogen and then burn it

      • Rich11

        Iceland runs their public transit on hydrogen? PBS had a show) maybe a couple of years ago) where they pulled into a gas station and FILLED UP. It was a pressure connection and they simply broke down water right there at the gas station since Iceland has plenty of Geothermal Energy.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

           Right – but think about it – do we have a way to produce hydrogen right on the spot all over the US?  It still takes more than 3X the electricity to do electrolysis than you get back out of the hydrogen – this energy could be much better used in regular EV’s.

          Fuel cells are *very* expensive, and they don’t last very long at all.  Hydrogen fuel cell cars don’t have any longer range than EV’s, and the cost of the hydrogen makes gasoline look cheap.  Hydrogen is also incredibly explosive.

          Show me a practical, affordable hydrogen fuel cell car, and I’ll park it next to my unicorn.

          Neil

    • JobExperience

       Putting people on Mars could only worsen our situation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        depends which people,
         i can think of a few we should send there

      • Rich11

        I didn’t write Mars (I wrote the moon) as an example of large projects WE CAN DO WHEN WE SHOW THE WILL (since switching to hydrogen would be a large project like going to the moon).

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      why bother making hydrogen just to burn it? inefficient. the military industrial complex benefitted from the moon shot how would it benefit from renewable energy? how would that fit their mission to consume as much as possible?

      • Rich11

        Hydrogen does not pollute when produced by renewable energy sources. I believe the subject is reducing pollution (in China for this particular program)?

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          yes but its also not efficient to produce it. why not use the electricity directly? a much better use would be to make electric cars rather than hydrogen cars

          • Rich11

            Sounds good for relatively SHORT distances. BUT I don’t see BATTERY TECHNOLOGY that would take one on a LONG HAUL? Maybe if they had a system where one could pull in and swap their discharged battery pack for a charged one and pay – just like paying for gasoline (we’re basically BUYING ENERGY)!

            I’m for whatever works, so your idea may be a great answer with a little tweaking!

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            that’s why we are fighting a war in afganistan they have the lithium we need to make batteries. I guess they just discovered a large domestic deposit so maybe we can leave there now. I think you battery swapping is a good solution and something like that will be possible when they have standardized things a little. maybe we should just insall a third rail in the highways. tesla also had a solution but it would not work for capitalists

          • Steve__T

             What about that monster in the middle of the road you all look around? TRUCKS Diesel trucks, and Buses burn dirtier fuel and run cross country a lot more than cars.
            There is not a big enough battery(s) to run a truck with a load. But a truck running on Hydrogen would be the answer to a lot of polluted air. Let’s face it the gasoline industry won’t stop until it’s all gone. Diesel used to be cheaper than gas because it’s cheaper to manufacture, but we want our goods to make it to market so they now charge more because they can, due in part to our demand. And no body even blinked when it went through the roof except the truckers. And its not considered when the discussion goes to renewable or energy efficiency for vehicles. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            diesel trucks can run off of renewable fuels with little or no modification. that’s a great reason to legalize hemp. they were in fact invented to run off of hempseed oil. diesel cars get way better mileage so even if the fuel is a little more expensive you get more bang for your buck as they say.

          • Steve__T

             No argument there

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            a truck would need a rather large hydrogen tank also

          • Steve__T

            No larger than they already have. and would get more mileage. As you say more bang for your buck.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            hydrogen is less energy dense than petroleum fuels. you would need a tank about 4 times larger which you could make a little smaller if you increase the pressure. like I said right now the major obstical is the huge chunk of platinum require by current fuel cells, that and no distribution system. we already have an electric grid so that makes direct electric much easier to adopt

          • Steve__T

             Had to do a little research and you are correct. Agreed

  • Yar

    When we are honest about environmental degradation we admit we are most at fault.  Much of China’s past pollution is results of US exporting manufacturing for cheap labor and lax environmental regulations.  We should be careful when pointing our finger at China, let anyone without sin cast the first stone.  The thing China has that we don’t is 4 times the number of citizens.  If China consumed like we do it would be a environmental catastrophe.   Should we reduce our own consumption? We started this path to destruction, we must lead toward a solution.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      Indeed. If the “free trade” advocates of the 80′s and 90′s had insisted on ecological fairness, then how cheap would all the POCs (product of china = piece of crap) really be and would we have seen this rapid exodus ofanufacturong there? Makes you wonder why a politician supposedly representing the interests of the USA would have voted for decidedly unfair free trade bills.

      • JobExperience

         We’re the best at pollution after 200 intense years.

    • videmus

      Consider this:
      Are Europeans hypocrites when pointing at the condition of US human rights (or any other other faults) because European history has recorded just as bad or worse? If it is not hypocritical, then it must be because there is a modern international expectation of a level of human rights, correct? If so, then could there also be a modern international expectation of a level of environmental stewardship?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        do we care what europeans think?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      if china consumed like we do where would their china be? if we stopped consuming we could bankrupt the chinese in no time

  • Barbara Moore

    This has nothing to do with today’s show, sorry, but Sunday’s Washington Post has a big article about the terrible damage being done to thousands of individuals and the economy as a whole by the slow-motion train wreck of personal debt from foreclosed underwater mortgages. This issue has been covered before but it deserves to be revisited as its ugliness is more fully revealed.  “On Point” seems like the perfect forum.  Thanks.

    • JobExperience

      Mortgage default train wreck, student loan train wreck, car loan train wreck payday loan train wreck, tire rental train wreck legalized gambling train wreck…. it’s all one thing: Usury. Default means taxpayers who are up on their installments are broken by corporate bailout taxation.  Capitalism always leads to slavery.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        when a poor person steals from a rich person its called theft when a rich person steals from a poor person its called banking

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Another aspect is that US companies like GM and Ford are making a lot of their profits by selling older design more polluting cars in China; if I am not mistaken.

    The main point is that all pollution everywhere affects everybody all over the world – especially the climate, but also other types of pollution.

    Flushing our collective toilets into the environment that we all depend on has got to stop.

    Neil

    • JobExperience

       How true. Our political toilet runs into their political toilet and theirs into ours.

    • VinceD2

      Actually, you are mistaken. The fleet of cars in China is quite modern. Many even use CNG. But the proliferation of cars and traffic is beyond belief!

      I just got back from Beijing, it is indeed getting worse relative to prior trips.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

         Really – can the cars sold in China meet the US emissions requirements?

        Neil

        • VinceD2

           I believe so. I asked some questions while over there. They aren’t using lead, many of the cars are European, many American, most all are late model. There are a lot of tiny cars that get great mileage.

          But the real problem is that there are simply too many cars sitting in traffic. It’s a quantity issue, not so much a quality of cars issue.

  • burroak

    How much of China’s explosive growth is directly correlated to U.S companies setting up shop there at the expense of the America’s-manufacturing-Midwestern-Man?
    And, with this U.S company presence in China, what roll do they have turning a blind eye, deaf ear, in this massive pollution? Are they mute, because they do not have any input?
    Or, all parties involved just comfortably allow it?

    • JobExperience

       The role of US investors (owners) in China is to make as much money  as possible as fast as possible. To do that they make deals with the devil. Wild growth in China is investment driven.

      • VinceD2

         And we support that devil every time we buy something MIC. WE are to blame!

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      its a free for all, pay your bribes and cash your checks

  • Jim

    Externality cost Externality cost.. and it is NOT FREE. Maybe miners and oil companies in the United States can take heed. 

    To American petroleum and mining companies:
    you pollute.. and you offset the cost to another person… which is a great business strategy… except that person is the tax payers of the local community.

  • Markus6

    The problem is that this makes it all seem so hopeless. It strikes me that anything we do is dwarfed by China, India and other developing countries. I can see why people are attracted to the argument that there is little real climate change. 

    That it’s such an enormous problem is not an argument for ignoring the science, but if there’s little anyone can do to even make a dent in the problem, it’s easy to be either fatalistic or believe in some sort of scientific conspiracy. 

  • sickofthechit

    To save the African Elephants why not sedate them, remove most of their tusk, then outfit them with prosthetic tusks and sell the tusk to pay for the program and further protections for the elephants and other wildlife. charles a. bowsher

    • JobExperience

       I thought you were sick of that stuff, Charles.
      Would you want us to sedate you and pull your teeth?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

       Elephants *need* their tusks to live – that’s why they have evolved that way.  Cutting them off would be like cutting off one of our hands…

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      legal hunting is the solution. 

  • http://hammernews.com/ hammermann

    “Too many people living underground- too many reaching for that slice of cake.”

    China’s exploding growth is (just read how they’re going to force 250
    million more farmers into cities in NYT) going to destroy the world. When I first did my giant AGW
    article in 2006 realized with shock that China was imminently going to
    pass USA as biggest CO2 emitter- only a few days later that was
    official. NOW it is emitting almost TWICE AS MUCH- that increase
    in only 7 years is the most shocking thing I’ve heard in years. Really, we are cooked.

    http://tomhammers.tripod.com/menu.htm#space

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      right but we just outsourced our emissions. they are emitting all that producing our consumer goods

  • sickofthechit

    FACT- “We live on a limited resource in the middle of nowhere.”  charles A. bowsher  Until the vast majority of us adopt that as our mantra, we are doomed to a pretty frightening future. charles a. bowsher

  • sickofthechit

    China uses 100 year, 500 year time-lines in its planning.  We have difficulty planning year to year.  We have our own selfishness and greed to blame for much of this.  For the near term I say buy American, buy local.  Next time you go to buy something that is made in China ask yourself how did this get here?  What is the real cost of this item?

    Boycott China now!  Boycott the rotten APPLE, and boycott GoOgLe!  It is time we assert our power. charles a. bowsher

  • sickofthechit

    China has “brought down” the cost of solar and wind because they want to dominate the market, not because they are altruistic. charles a. bowsher
     

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      who cares why they did it. they made it more accessable and feasable

      • sickofthechit

         The reason to care is that by becoming essentially the sole supplier, innovation is stifled as is competition.  The same formula that has in part helped cause or contribute to our current manufacturing difficulties.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          is one factory or company in china making all the panels?   I thought the American solar manufacturing shitthebed because they paid too much for their silicon supply. thank god it did because those panels were too expensive to pay themselves off in a reasonable period of time. more efficient panels would be great but its much better to make them cheap. price is the major barrier to adopting solar. the cheaper the better

      • Tyranipocrit

         there is nothing environmental about getting products form the other side of the world.  green energy should be local and locally controlled.  State grids are better than nothing but local is the foundation of democracy.  One reason we DO NOT have democracy is because energy is controlled by greedy international corporate barons.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          sure but if you actually want them to be used they have to be affordable. because of the Chinese they are and I bet if they are cheap enough their use would easily make up for the carbon needed to ship them. if everyone has a solar panel on their roof no matter where it came from you will get the local grid you desire. by fighting these panels you are in the pocket of the barons.

          • Tyranipocrit

            disagree wholeheartedly. Governments, local, state, and federal should be subsidizing small green tech companies to the max and all subsidies for oil, fossil fuesl, box store retail, corporate farms and GMOS and airplanes and war should come to an end–NOW. No race period. You want the luxury of an airplane pay for it. the cost should be inn the hundreds of thousands –perhaps millions. We should pay for environmental impact and fuel costs. This would stimulate green travel and new highly employable industries–green sailing vessels and steam and solar ships–real luxury on the high seas–express.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            we did try subsidizing solar, it was a massive boondoggle and still no panels. the Chinese crushed all of our subsidized companies and now we can get affordable panels. airplanes do cost millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands for fuel. sail boats will never ben quick compared to airplanes

          • Tyranipocrit

            not entirely accurate. And a few odd companies that failed is hardly subsidy. i am talking about a total re-organization of the system.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            a few odd companies were subsidized and failed. they overpaid for basic materials. the Chinese got a better deal on the silicon they reorganized the system with the upshot being cheap solar panels for all, available now

  • Leise

    This hour was very interesting, and the callers were for the most part more level-headed and critical in their approach to the issue than Jane Clayson proved to be (fyi this is NPR, not CNN; gasping after each new statistic is uncalled for).

    My only concern about the discussion was that it avoided the issue of American lifestyle entirely. Why should the onus of cleaning up the environment and consuming less fall entirely on the Chinese when the modern standard of living and economy they pursue were introduced by the West? That the Chinese are consuming more as they become wealthier was brought up several times, but then what? Do we expect the Chinese to forgo improving their standard of living, to continue riding bicycles and turning off the heat in the winter so that the developed world can carry on enjoying very comfortable lives? Does America expect to be taken seriously for its criticisms of developing countries like China, when its own citizens continue to buy more cars, more electronics, blast heat/AC, use electric appliances for everything, and in general act as though the world’s resources were not in short supply? Why is the possibility of Americans adapting to a lifestyle less comfortable or convenient completely off the table? As long as it is, America will continue to come off as a complete and utter hypocrite.

    • andic_epipedon

      I don’t want to live without heat in the winter and I don’t think anyone else should have to live without heat.  People sometimes die without heat.  This discussion of China’s impact on the planet is very important to the World’s survival.  However; I think it should happen and we should be able to criticize everyone on the planet if we want to.  It’s China’s low environmental and workplace standards that are keeping production facilities out of America forcing us to loose lots of jobs.

      I don’t think it precludes us from exploring what kind of power we have in the marketplace to help China clean up.  Let’s talk about cleaning up the US market.  Lets talk about turning the lights off in Times Square in New York.  Let’s talk about shutting down Las Vegas.  Let’s talk about making products that are made of high quality so we don’t throw things away after a few years of use.  When you get a raise should you continue to buy stuff from Walmart or should you invest in something that you are going to keep for five years or more? I think this discussion is a jumping point for some very real conversations about topics we haven’t given serious consideration.  I’ll give you two cases in point.  Alternative energy (particularly wind, solar and geothermal) hasn’t really taken off in this country as it has in China.  I think we need to ask ourselves why not?  Two population control.  I’m not talking about poverty stricken countries in Africa that use very few resources or China that has implemented its one child policy.  I’m talking about good old Americans that want to reproduce to their hearts content without thinking about the consequences.  Has anyone ever given any thought of why we give tax credits past the first two children in a household?     

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        dont worry we will replace the chinese with robots. i wonder why people get so bent out of shape when a chinese person takes their job but we hear nothing when a machine does the same thing

  • Michiganjf

    China obviously needs to take world and regional environmental concerns seriously… obviously.

    …but in case some of you are too young to remember, Americans were HUGE, piggish polluters before the environmental movement began.

    In the early seventies, before the bottom fell out of the steel industry in Pittsburgh, one could clean an outside windowsill in the morning, and it would be soot-covered again by evening… I remember this well.
      Sounds very much like the caller’s story about powder-coated flowers in China, doesn’t it?

    Also, America is sliding backward, regarding air pollution, thanks to Republicans and their mindless, fanatical zeal for deregulation at any cost.

    After twelve years of Rick Perry and a Republican stranglehold on the Texas State legislature, air quality in Texas is the worst it’s ever been.

    Austin gets it’s air from Houston… it blows in from the Gulf, then backs up against the central Texas hill country, piling up over Austin.
    Houston air has Austin listed among the worst air quality in the country.
    We no longer have the deep blue skies we once had… they’re always pasty white, from reflective particulate in the air.
    One can no longer see clearly for miles from a high vantage point, as one could 15 years ago… instead, one strains to see a short distance, through a white haze.

    China needs to curb its pollution, yes… but the U.S is certainly NOT setting much of an example to follow.

  • andic_epipedon

    I can’t imagine how it must feel to live with pollution all the time.  All those cities that are on the most polluted cities list.  All those areas of China that are polluted.

    I have lived in Los Angeles and the Central Valley of California.  While in Los Angeles I was diagnosed with an allergy to pollution and given an inhaler.  I have decided to live in the Pacific Northwest where the air and water pollution are much lower and I don’t need an inhaler.  I live in poverty financially, but I live richly in resources.

  • andic_epipedon

    China may have more pollution, but the government will not stay in power if they continue down this road.  The realities of the effects of pollution will force them to make improvements.  Of course China is no golden child, but did you hear on the show, they actually signed Kyoto unlike the US and are building the biggest wind and solar facilities in the world.

  • andic_epipedon

    I try to buy US made whenever I can for the more stringent environmental laws, but have you ever tried to find electronics made in the USA?  Even Ford makes cars in Mexico.  How about shoes that actually fit your foot and feel comfortable?  I have boycotted Nike, but there is only one manufacturer that really specializes in wide sneakers and they closed their last US shop a while ago.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

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Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

 
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A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

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