Friday, November 21, 2008
China's Environmental Nightmare
The biggest obstacle in the path of China's economic ascendancy is China or, to be more specific, the inability of the central government to effectively manage the country.
It's one scandal after another. Lead in kids' toys, melamine in the food and a lot more. However it's a series of environmental issues, and China's inability to come to grips with them, that pose the greatest threat to the country's future prosperity.
China already has a serious problem with desertification, the degradation that transforms arable farmland into useless desert. A new report says that China is losing approximately 4.5-billion tonnes of topsoil annually to erosion. From Reuters:
Over a third of China's land is being scoured by serious erosion that is putting its crops and water supply a risk, a three-year nationwide survey has found.
Soil is being washed and blown away not only in remote rural areas, but near mines, factories and even in cities, the official Xinhua agency cited the country's bio-environment security research team saying.
If the loss continues at this rate, harvests in China's northeastern breadbasket could fall 40 percent in 50 years, adding to erosion costs estimated at 200 billion yuan ($29 billion) in this decade alone.