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Debate: China should slow its economic growth in favor of the environment

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Revision as of 19:53, 23 March 2010; Brooks Lindsay (Talk | contribs)
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Should China slow its economic growth in favor of the environment?

Background and context:

China is one of the fastest developing economies in the world in the recent years. Its growth rate is unseen in history, however the negative consequences of such a growth are also unseen. For most Western countries the effects of their economic development caught up to them when they were rich, while these effects are falling on Chinese economy while it is still poor. An important factor is to understand where the main pollution comes from. The main polluting branch is heavy industry which developed quickly but without considering the environment, for example coal in which China relies for two thirds of its energy consumption. This has caused air pollution to rise to levels far beyond European standards, 141 micro grams of PM10 per cubic meter of air as opposed to 40.China is the largest source of sulfur dioxide globally. Another important issue is water resources and pollution. The North of the country is scarce in water while the South is flood-prone. But scarcity hasn't brought about a sense of conservation, as Chinese industry spends up to 10 times more water per unit of production. Another issue is the building of houses without thermal isolation, asking for more energy that is provided by the construction of new power plants. In building these plants the Chinese government uses older technology that pollutes more but is cheaper. Moreover the danger and tolls that this pollution takes on human life is a forbidden topic.

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Yes

1. The high economic growth is the main reason for pollution thus if that is slowed the environment would benefit. The development of the heavy industry is causing most of the pollution and if the Chinese government attempts to put the economic growth under control then they would have a good possibility to focus on policies to repair the damage done until now and limit to the most the future damage. Building higher technology power plants for example, would cost more thus slowing the economy down however it would have a high positive impact on the environment. Also raising legal measures for those who pollute the water would take its toll to economy but would once again help in preventing further pollution.





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No

1. China its still a poor country and its economic growth s too important. Differently from Western countries China is having to face the consequences of its growth before achieving great development. In order for a country to enforce an extensive environmental policy, t needs a strong economy to be based upon. If we try to stop the development of China, it might never recover again losing too much money in expensive environmental policies. The main polluter is energetic industry which can not be slowed down at this tie when every kind of activity in China requires greater and greater amounts of energy.





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Yes

2. The toll in peoples lives is getting too high to be justifiable. According Chinese expert reports annual premature deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution were likely to reach 380,000 in 2010 and 550,000 in 2020. While a World Bank study suggests that outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year with an additional 300,000 people deaths caused by indoor pollution. NO economic plan or goals can justify such losses of human lives, therefore the Chinese government should understand that the economy is not the only matter to worry about and should undertake serious environmental policies by cutting economic growth.





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No

2. This kind of measures have proven ineffective before. The "Green GDP" line of action that was taken in 2004 proved completely unsuccessful. It was supposed to be comprehesive environmental and economic accounting, however this pioneering endeavor turned out to be unrealistic. The calculation of yearly damage to the environment and health every year in every province. Officials said at the time that their formula used low estimates of environmental damage to health and did not assess the impact on China’s ecology. They would produce a more decisive formula, they said, the next year. The "Green GDP second report was never conducted. Therefore, we can clearly see that measures that aima t lowering the GDP are both undesirable and unrealistic.





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Yes

3. Economically efficient in the long term. If the Chinese government allows the environmental situation to deteriorate over the critical point, no economic advances will have any value. In the long term, such increased pollution would keep taking away human lives and at the same time blocking economic growth definitively. How can a country sustain its growth if there is no more potable water, or no more water to grow crops? Not only would it destroy the economy, but it would cause the whole country to collapse in the long term. Therefore, if we slow economic growth to protect the environment today, China will have its chance to continue developing in the years to come when a more stable environmental situation is achieved.





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No

3. The solution to the problem are alternative energy sources. Trying to limit or reduce the growth of a country's economy is both inefficient and unnecessary. Since the main pollution area is energetic industry, alternative energy source would highly contribute to better protect the environment without harming the economy. The government is planning to quintuple China's nuclear generation capacity.Power from wind turbines is meant to double by 2010 and grow by a factor of 12 by 2020. Hydro power is supposed almost to triple by the same date. Overall, renewable sources should account for 15% of energy consumption by 2020. Clearly we can see that this line of action would both benefit the environment and the economy.





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