Comparing China’s polluted cities to the cities of other countries amounts to a flawed analysis because there is a fundamental issue of scale. China is in a phase of unprecedented change. The past years have seen the state undertake one of the highest growth trails in the record, and this has led to massive economic and social changes.
Due to developments in and transformations in China’s economy, the country has become the second biggest economy in the globe. Most China residents have evolved from low-class to middle-class, and they are now main players in sustaining China’s market as they order more goods and services for consumption.
Presently, however, Chinese expansion is slowing down following an unprecedented period of rapid growth for the last thirty years. No one still knows the rate at which the economy is slowing down. Knowing the rate at which China’s economy is slowing down is significant as it indicates that the amount of pollution in the country is also reducing.
The fact that we do not know the rate at which the economy is slowing down denotes that we cannot tell the rate at which air pollution in the country is reducing and those who claim that China’s rate of pollution is the highest in the world ignore this point. Research shows that in the past years, air pollution in China has been a key problem.
According to Hill (2012), the overall emission of leading air pollutants such as soot, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and dangerous gases from industries raised in the mid-1990s and has been declining from that time. While we may acknowledge that China experienced much pollution in past years, we cannot say that China is the leading country in air pollution presently.
First, the country says that it has slowed down its industrial processes, which were the leading contributors of air pollution in the past years, and second, we do not have a scale to compare China’s rates of pollution with other countries.
Scholars claim that China’s industries have been the leading contributors to air pollution in the country. “The pollutants responsible are emitted by coal-burning power plants, smelters, and chemical factories” (Hill, p.23). China, similar to other countries, has been meeting most of its energy needs through burning coal, in the past years. Another key contributor to air pollution in the past years has been the automobile industry.
China has had a growing number of motor vehicles that burn low-grade gasoline, causing many dangerous emissions into the air. Since China has begun to reduce the rate of its development, it is obvious that the amounts of emissions from industries have reduced. In the same way, motor vehicle transport has reduced because there are fewer goods to transport to the market and fewer movements by workers.
Consequently, air pollution in the country has reduced. At the beginning of this year, China decided to start reducing the pace of its development and maintain its overall economic development lower than 7%. So far, the country has met its goal since the rate of growth reduced in the first quarter of the year. “The economy grew by 7.7% year-on-year in the first quarter, the slowest pace of growth since the Asian financial crisis 13 years ago” (Yueh, par.5).
Besides, there are indicators that suggest that the rate of growth in the second quarter will even be lower. These achievements are in line with China’s new policies of maintaining a 7.5% growth or less for the next seven years (Yueh).
Research also indicates that the amounts of fine particulates in various urban areas in China have been the highest in the globe for the past years (Hill, 2012). Seemingly, this claim is an understatement because there exists no clear way of comparing levels of pollution in different countries. Different countries have different air quality indices, and this makes comparison rather difficult. Even though there are average pollution indexes, they also do not give accurate results.
The average pollution index fails because it fails to recognize that different regions have diverse climatic conditions, and both the structure of the index and the breakpoints ought to be data independent. Another drawback is that the average pollution index only considers a single pollutant while the intensity of pollution should get consideration in relations to the different pollutants in the environment concurrently.
Besides, these indices do not consider population differences among different regions. China has a large population, and we cannot compare it with other countries that have less population. China has a population of about 1 billion people and more than 220 cities (Hill).
The country’s metropolitan cities serve as a home for about 100 to 200 million citizens. The rest of the population resides in rural areas. Europe, on the other hand, has only thirty-five cities and twenty for megacities, and less than 200 million residents. Those who claim that China’s amount of population is high do not take into account the number of residents in the country.
In conclusion, comparing China’s polluted cities to the cities of other countries is a flawed analysis. We do not know the current rate of China’s expansion, and we cannot ascertain that the amount of pollution dumped into the atmosphere in the past years is similar to the amounts dumped presently. Besides, the average pollution index, which rates countries in terms of their pollution levels, has many limitations. Therefore, it is not possible to compare the pollution of cities in China with pollution in cities of other countries.
Hill, N. (2012). Understanding environmental pollution. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Yueh, L. (2013). Getting used to a slower pace of growth in China. BBC News. Web.