Global concerns have grown steadily over China’s increasingly perilous environmental problems. A country with as many people as every Western power combined, China has muscled itself into international relevance by becoming the world’s biggest exporter. But its meteoric economic rise has sunk China chin-deep into an environmental crisis that is not only the result of its recent prosperity, but appears built into it. Little evidence suggests that it will get better before it gets worse.
The Environmental Crisis In China: Unbreathable Air
Like America, China’s primary source of power comes from coal and both countries’ dependence on the hard stuff is politically and economically entrenched. China’s coal use is far and away its biggest problem when it comes to the environment, and moving on to cleaner resources will be about as difficult as switching methadone for Motrin. Government energy experts estimate that China’s primary energy source will be coal for at least the next three decades. At the same time, a million cars are added to Chinese roads every year, adding to the greenhouses gases warming the planet.
Just last month, the American Embassy in Beijing made headlines when the city’s evening Air Quality Index (AQI) measured a suffocating 775. The international scale stops at 500. To put that into perspective, at the same time Beijing reached an AQI of 775, New York City’s AQI was 19. Most American cities never top 100, with the worst offenders never breaking 200.