Post by Academic Initiatives Working Group Intern Aliya Mood
My recent visit to China in March of this year opened my eyes to the amount of environmental damage being done not only in the U.S. but throughout the rest of the world.
Trash piles line the streets of Beijing, while nearly of the small streams and waterways are dried up. Their creek beds illuminated with grey pebbles and dried yellow plants. The first day I arrived in the city of 20 million people, I toured the ancient Forbidden City. Before even entering the gates to the city, I noticed the incredible pollution and trash that inhabited the surrounding waterway. From Starbucks cups to other random pieces of human debris, I was shocked to see so much pollution in the proximity of such historical grounds, especially since the Chinese are so proud of their thousands of years of history.
Waking up to extremely smoggy mornings and going to bed with an ever-tight chest were also side effects of the immense amount of air pollution in Beijing. Cab drivers couldn’t see more than a mile in front of them making the cramped city roads even more dangerous than the already crazy driving habits of the Chinese people.
Water and air quality are two of the main environmental issues that plague China today. With industrial as well as non point source pollution from rural farms continuing to pollute various water bodies, there is an increasing lack of viable water. Additionally, at the end of last year the Chinese government stated that it would impose stricter regulations on air pollution. While the government already tracked the air quality through the Air Pollution Index by measuring the inhalable particulate matter of 10 micrometers or larger (PM10) new regulations called for the measurement of PM2.5 particles after citizen concern. These smaller particles are caused by everything from construction to coal combustion to factories, and chronic exposure has lead to increased risk of cardiovascular ailments, lung cancer and respiratory disease.
Although the Chinese government is making strides in environmental legislation, reaching for lower air pollution levels in multiple major cities of over the next four years, the increased industrialization and growing population tremendously outweigh the environmental regulations. Serious major changes and stricter regulations need to made by Chinese government as well as the U.S. This is a worldly problem, not just a national one.