China’s Green Haves, and Have Nots

September 27, 2014

Donna Lisenby in Ecowatch:

I landed in China safely. Shortly after I arrived in Nanjing, we went sight seeing at a site with a coal plant, a coking plant and a cement factory all next door to each other and along the Yangtze River. The air and the water surrounding the site was not very pleasant.

The next day, Hao, Qingwei and I spoke at a school and then later we gave a presentation to a group of people living in a gated multi-million dollar green development. Sixty percent of the property was wooded. It had forests, ponds and trails. The least expensive house was about 3 million dollars.

in China, only the very rich can afford to live in “green” developments. Clean water and slightly cleaner air is something you have to pay a lot of money to get. They are selling points and treated like amenities for marketing purposes. I felt like I was a character in a dystopian novel. I started my travels in the poisoned air, land and and water of the coal facilities—a horrifically ugly, toxic industrial wasteland. From there I went to a school where 6th graders were learning about environmental stewardship in a country that doesn’t do that very well—a little sea of hope for the future. And then to the rich green development where the elite have their own little 600 acre green reserve all to themselves.

 

The uniformed guards at the gates snapping to attention to salute all who enter and keep those out who can’t pay the price to have trees, clean air and water. Only it wasn’t a novel. It was just two days in my real life as a warrior for our only planet home.

As I sit here this morning at a desk in the office of our Qiantang River Waterkeeper, I find myself wishing I could speak Chinese so I could talk to the people who are not rich and who can’t afford access to a green enclave. I want to ask them whether this is the future they want for their children. Where the haves and the have nots are segregated into those who get trees, clean air and water, and those who are slowly and systemically poisoned.

14 Responses to “China’s Green Haves, and Have Nots”


  1. […] Donna Lisenby in Ecowatch: I landed in China safely. Shortly after I arrived in Nanjing, we went sight seeing at a site with a coal plant, a coking plant and a cement factory all next door to each …  […]

  2. MorinMoss Says:

    This seems to me like an environment primed for an uprising if China doesn’t clean up its act (no puns intended).

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Something as serious as China’s pollution problems can’t be punny.

      And since no horse is ever to dead to beat, let me say COAL-COAL-COAL and GROWTH-GROWTH-GROWTH.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    It’s strange that no one wants to talk about this post. Or is everyone hoping that a country with 1/5 of the entire human population on the planet is not worth discussing? Or that its problems are going to just go away or not affect the U.S.?

    China emits the highest %-age of the planet’s annual CO2 emissions—–(~25%).
    The U.S. is in second place with ~16% of the total.

    Chinas’s annual per capita CO2 emissions are ~6.9 tons.
    The U.S. figure is ~17.6 tons.
    The U.S. population is just under 1/4 that of China.

    Do some math. We ignore China at our peril.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Nobody is ignoring them – and there’s a good reason why we have a classification for the BRIC countries, none of whom we can afford to ignore.
      I’ve been hearing that Africa is the next destination for the global Walmart con-glomerates, ie, those always in search of the next low-cost labor market to be exploited.
      But it’s rank hypocrisy to tell people who never had theirs that they can’t have it because we got ours 1st. So what we should be doing is to pull our own heads out before telling them their sh*t stinks.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Once the Ebola outbreak causes a significant reduction in the number of Africans, the ones left standing won’t be willing to work as cheaply.

        As far as “….it’s rank hypocrisy to tell people who never had theirs that they can’t have it because we got ours 1st”. Don’t you believe in the capitalist/imperialist/exploitative/free market/kill the natives system? Are you some sort of communist/socialist?


      • it’s rank hypocrisy to tell people who never had theirs that they can’t have it because we got ours 1st.

        1.  The vast majority of it isn’t “theirs”.  They had no part of making it possible; had others not existed and been free to act the tech would not exist either, so they are owed nothing.
        2.  To the extent that they should be allowed to use the gift (yes, gift; the West is not demanding royalties for the most part) that technology represents, it should be on the terms that they don’t create any undue harm with it.

        Among other details, that means not going on coal-mining sprees.  The West made a problem that needs cleaning up, and the rank hypocrisy of the “developing nations” spewing rapidly-increasing amounts of fossil carbon into the atmosphere while complaining about climate change should get an instant and final “FU”.

        Had it not been for the West doing the hard work of the virus eradication campaign, those same nations would still have regular smallpox epidemics.  They owe the people of the West an immense amount, likely even their own lives.  If they don’t return the favor by accepting the obligation to act responsibly, both as individuals and as nations, they should be left in the squalor in which Europeans found them.  Without foreign goods and tech, they’d be back there in a generation.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          WOW! What sent E-Pot off on this bigoted, racist, xenophobic, and quite ignorant rant? Did a “person of color” make a face at him? Or cut in font of him in a checkout line? Or is he just attention-deprived, since The Norwegian Nightmare seems to be getting all the “space” in Crock lately?

          It’s too bad that letting one’s prejudices get the better of one’s thinking processes leads to illogic and hyperbole, but perhaps those of us without such prejudices can help E-Pot deal with his. My contribution to that goal:

          1) IT’s not “yours” or “ours” either, E-Pot. The “IT” was bequeathed to you (along with your Berkshire Hathaway stock) by those who went before, and THEY acquired it by raping the planet and exploiting the native populations wherever they went.

          2) The imperialist exploiters brought “IT” along with them as they colonized and exploited the world, told the natives that capitalism and having “IT” was all important. WE took the technology and economic system there and planted it, and we shouldn’t be surprised that THEY want to follow in our footsteps. (I realize that your prejudices make that a hard thing to swallow—-try hard)

          3) The indigenous folks have paid some rather large “royalties” down through the years—-genocide and extinction, being driven off their lands, being abducted and sold into slavery, etc. YOU, on the other hand are a whining POS that got lucky as to the time and place of your birth. YOU owe more than they do.

          4) The western world went on the first “coal-mining spree”, as well as the first petroleum spree, and shows little sign of stopping—that would be bad for “economic growth”, you see. The “rank hypocrisy” here is yours, for saying that what WE did should be ignored while THEY must be denied the opportunity to do what we did. Actually, they may have learned from our mistakes and will do less damage than we have (and continue to do). China’s per capita CO2 emissions are less than 50% of ours

          5) This is priceless. “Had it not been for the West doing the hard work of the virus eradication campaign, those same nations would still have regular smallpox epidemics. They owe the people of the West an immense amount, likely even their own lives”.

          Yes, like the remaining Native Americans, for example—survivors of the smallpox and measles WE brought, survivors of the genocide we inflicted on them, and now living on those small patches of useless land we pushed them onto as we took the land that belonged to no one. I’m sure they’re quite grateful and will kneel and kiss your ring when next you visit them. (Ever been on a reservation?)

          6) If YOU and your ilk and WE don’t accept the obligation to act responsibly, both as individuals and as nations, ALL OF US will suffer. You won’t last more than a few weeks when the SHTF.

          Morin Moss was talking about E-Pot when he spoke of people who “needed to pull their heads out”. That is evidenced by “…they should be left in the squalor in which Europeans found them”. One man’s “squalor” is another man’s “paradise”.


  4. The Chinese are just doing what we did after WW2, just furiously faster. Rather than read the text books on the problems of industrialization of the west they just ignored it and jumped right at it. Naturally its interesting that partially the way we have reduced our emissions is to export them to China instead. A rather silly thing to do with regards to CO2 emissions which have a global effect, but “not seeing” the pollution has a better effect for politicians harvesting votes. Hence we have all these fantastic ways of burning fossil fuel with very little visible emissions in the west, while ignoring the big invisible elephant in the atmosphere – CO2 is still rising…

    • MorinMoss Says:

      I’m not at all happy about way China ramped up their usage of coal over the past 15 yrs but it SEEMS they’re getting the message and while I wouldn’t care to live under their system of government, a tightly-controlled, centrally-planned country can accomplish a rapid shift, which I hope will be in the right direction.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Lots of quotes about the hopelessness of “hope” come to mind, but I will just be a bright-sider and say “I hope you’re right”


  5. Replying to DOGgie above:

    When it’s my turn to stir the pot to mix in some non-PC concepts and keep Crock from degenerating into an echo chamber, I can count on someone like DOG to take umbrage (even if he does push the envelope a bit with his Ebola remark):

    What sent E-Pot off on this bigoted, racist, xenophobic, and quite ignorant rant?

    Why, DOG, I’m surprised at you.  It was the stock-standard Progressive-orthodox notion that People of Color are totally without any moral agency or responsibility.  It’s up to Us Enlightened But Morally Impaired Persons Of No Race Or Culture (per the Progressives) to Make It All Right, no matter what the rest of the world does or doesn’t do.  And We Must Esteem Their Races and Cultures above anything we are or practice, Just Because.

    Needless to say, I sneer at every last bit of this.  It is contemptible nonsense, and airing contrary views is obligatory in a free society to KEEP it a free society.

    It’s too bad that letting one’s prejudices get the better of one’s thinking processes

    You mean, like the scripted Two Minutes Hate of the PC against anything once considered normal… now deemed “cis-gendered”, “heteronormative” or otherwise “oppressive”?

    Another reason I do this:  I get lulz from the replies.  I always have a smirk on my face while writing rebuttals.

    1) IT’s not “yours” or “ours” either, E-Pot. The “IT” was bequeathed to you (along with your Berkshire Hathaway stock) by those who went before, and THEY acquired it by raping the planet and exploiting the native populations wherever they went.

    “Wherever they went”?  The steam engine was developed in G. Britain (in no small part through the efforts of Scots), while the scientific underpinnings were uncovered by the likes of Joule, Carnot and Kelvin… also without leaving Europe.  You will notice the complete absence of names derived from Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, Ndebele and Iroquois.  Those cultures and peoples contributed nothing.

    WE took the technology and economic system there and planted it, and we shouldn’t be surprised that THEY want to follow in our footsteps.

    That, and they also swarm our borders trying to get HERE.  Five centuries ago (give or take a couple decades), they would never have tried.  Most of them would have been killed.  Even if they survived, there was nothing HERE that they didn’t already have THERE.

    Five centuries on, conditions THERE haven’t changed too terribly much (besides the introduction of corrugated steel and cell phones, plus some modern medical and agricultural practices).  Why are things so much better HERE?  Things used to be better THERE… but it was under the brief period of colonialism, now deemed “oppressive”.  It’s so much less oppressive now that the hospitals are closed, the schools have fallen down and the paved roads have crumbled into tracks, isn’t it?

    The indigenous folks have paid some rather large “royalties” down through the years—-genocide and extinction, being driven off their lands, being abducted and sold into slavery

    Genocide has been the hobby of genus Homo since it arose (likely earlier, given Pan); just look at the various genocidal wars of the Native Americans, Africans, various groups in the Orient, etc.  The ethnic subgroup of Kennewick Man was genocided by… somebody.  Its branch is extinct now.  Driving others off land was practiced with enthusiasm by the same, up through and into modern times.  Native Americans fought each other for land for thousands of years.  The tales of the Moghuls in India and the Zulu in Africa are recent enough to have written accounts, and the relentless and genocidal expansionism of the Han is a multi-millenial success story in the far East.

    Who abducted Africans and sold them into slavery?  Other Africans.  The ones they couldn’t sell they either worked to death or ate outright.  Still do, in some cases (like albinos).  Most of the Africans sold went to Arabs (who worked them to death), and only a small fraction of the Africans sent to the New World came to N. America.  A large fraction of the African slaves in the USA as of 1860 were legally owned by their free co-ethnics, who were the ones who imported the practice of chattel slavery to Virginia in the first place (see Johnson vs. Parker, 1655).

    YOU, on the other hand are a whining POS that got lucky as to the time and place of your birth.

    You can’t make a case, so you resort to shaming language.  Tsk, tsk.  FYI, shortly after coming to the USA my ancestors were drafted into the war to end slavery north of the Rio Grande.  They kicked some ass and went back to minding their own business.  I didn’t “get lucky”; I inherited what they made and what they were.  Others whose ancestors made nothing and were nothing deserve nothing.  They can learn to read books and try to build their own peaceful, successful society… if they can.  My kind did the hard work of making it from scratch, and the only reason the USA is desirable as it is because my ancestors came here.

    YOU owe more than they do.

    I owe them nothing.  Not even the NA’s.  They were stuck in a stone-age rut trying to kill their neighbors the way they killed the Solutreans who were there when they arrived over the Bering land bridge.  The distant cousins of the Solutreans turned out to be better at that game than they were, so they lost.  They lost their own game.  Those who assimilated are far better off than they ever would have been otherwise; those drinking themselves to death on the rez are owed nothing.

    4) The western world went on the first “coal-mining spree”, as well as the first petroleum spree, and shows little sign of stopping—that would be bad for “economic growth”, you see.

    Have I ever argued otherwise?  But that’s water under the bridge, and it happened before we really understood what was going on (like the demise of the passenger pigeon, or the dodo… which was driven extinct by the Maori, not Europeans).

    The “rank hypocrisy” here is yours, for saying that what WE did should be ignored while THEY must be denied the opportunity to do what we did.

    Typical Social Justice Warrior attitude, demanding “fairness” without ever asking crucial questions.  Questions like, “can the planet even SURVIVE if everyone else does it too?”

    Also erecting a strawman.  I never said that what the West did should be ignored.  I’ve proposed a number of ways to reverse (and thus correct) it.  What I said is that the “developing countries” shouldn’t both complain about Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) and also demand a “right” to exacerbate it.  That, my fair-weather friend, is hypocrisy.

    Yes, like the remaining Native Americans, for example—survivors of the smallpox and measles WE brought

    You are ascribing culpability to people who had no knowledge of bacteria or viruses.

    and now living on those small patches of useless land we pushed them onto as we took the land that belonged to no one.

    It was land that the strongest of them had been pushing the others off of since they crossed the Bering land bridge… and killed the Solutreans who were already there.  All the neo-Solutreans did post-Columbus was play the same game, but better.  They can’t complain about losing; Bad Eagle didn’t.  At least we didn’t wipe them out completely, as they did to each other if they could.

    A great many don’t live on “the rez”, and enjoy health, safety and ease of life light-years beyond anything the Native American was going to produce (you’re talking peoples who had barely invented writing at best, putting them thousands of years behind Western culture).

    If YOU and your ilk and WE don’t accept the obligation to act responsibly, both as individuals and as nations, ALL OF US will suffer.

    Yes, EXACTLY, DOGgie!  We MUST hold the Third World to a non-hypocritical standard for GHG emissions.  They cannot un-do all the West’s emissions reductions and turn around to claim compensation.  And the likes of Saudi Arabia can’t demand compensation for cuts in FF use.  I’ve said that we should let them drink their oil, and I meant it.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      The amount of support for your “Solutrean hypothesis” among the experts is thinner than any Arctic summer ice.

      And by what sorcery did the Maori people of the 17th century cause the extinction of a creature whose home was TEN THOUSAND km distant?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: