This article is a philosophical rant about living in China.
It’s a dirty, polluted place. In case you didn’t know.
A Rant About Day-to-Day Life in China
The reality of living in China is not always pretty.
Hi. I’m Sam, the Founder of Guided Imports. And I would know.
Every day I spend in China I am literally exerting effort to dodge low-quality air.
The smog is so bad that I have an app on my phone sending me alerts each day on areas of the city to avoid.
I have that hacking cough of a smoker. And so does everyone else for that matter.
Big city living in China, you say?
Fair enough. But it’s not just a city problem.
Getting out of the city is no escape from the smog.
Having been traveling the country extensively over the last two years, I can name less than a handful of times I could see stars in the night sky.
But the pollution is not just blocking the stars.
It’s blocking your daytime vision too, no matter where you are in China.
The worst is when I’m taking an extended trip to manufacturing towns on behalf of my clients.
When I get close to the factories my nostrils start filling up with mucus that will last up to a week.
And even though I’m wearing a respirator, ear plugs and eye protection on site at factories. I am still getting headaches every time I visit.
They were mind-splitting migraines a few years back. Now they’re just minor nuisances.
And frankly, my body adapting to the pollution worries me even more.
What I’m trying to say is:
China is a dirty place. it’s kind of a big deal. People are talking about it.
So? I guess the first question is, who should we blame?
Let’s Blame the Chinese: It Would Be Easy to Do
Living here in China now, I see hundreds of reasons to blame the Chinese for global pollution just by looking around.
Factory exhaust is pumping out everywhere you look.
And that’s just the polluting happening you can easily see. There’s also what’s being dumped into the water right now, which will ultimately taint the entire local food supply.
And to say there is very little environmental regulation happening in China would be an understatement.
In 2012, there were an estimated 8,572 deaths in China’s four largest cities directly attritutable to pollution.
And that’s the Chinese government statistic, which I’m not about to trust.
Did you know sixteen of the world’s twenty most polluted cities are in China?
And that those 16 cities are responsible for a full one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas output?
It’s easy to blame the Chinese for world pollution.
Heck, I do it every day.
So why don’t the Chinese just stop polluting?
Why China’s Pollution Problem is Not That Simple: You
First off, to say that China is doing nothing to stop polluting isn’t entirely fair.
China is currently spending about nine % of GDP on fixing the environment. At least that’s what the government says.
(Or said. In 2006. The last time they reported on the issue.)
But clearly that 9% is not enough given the amount of manufacturing taking place in China.
So why doesn’t China do more to stop the rampant pollution?
Just follow the money.
And right now the money is flowing to China, giving them no serious incentive to establish policies that would hurt their growth.
And no one else is really asking them to, either.
In fact, pretty much everyone is asking China to do just the opposite.
There’s a global market demand driving the manufacturing and polluting take place in China.
A $2.5 Trillion a year market.
And that market… is you.
Yeah, I’m talking about you: you bargain shopping, coupon cutting, People of Walmart.
Do not hate on China if you shop in any of these ways — and let’s face it we all do.
Because we are what’s keeping China in business. And until we demand they do things differently with our wallets, they probably won’t.