‘Smog Emigration’

27 Feb

China is facing a new threat to her land, or rather, her air. The smog, of similar proportions to the Great Smog of 1952 in London, is of great concern to the citizens of big Chinese cities. over 1.3 million cases of chronic bronchitis are diagnosed each year, and the rate of lung cancer has increased by a factor of five in the last three decades. This problem doesn’t look set to end, in the short-term, at least as the Chinese government continues with the expectation, at least, that air pollution will not be tackled through economic restructuring. With this upward trend of Chinese pollution has come what some have called the ‘fourth wave of Chinese emigration’, with over 80% of those leaving China for Australia ascribing the move to the poor air quality. 

The smog has grounded planes, slowed down farming (killing a vast array of crops) and even forced Japanese officials to issue health warnings in Kumamoto. Apparently, the levels of the most hazardous pollution particles were more than 20 times the internationally recognised safe limit. This all adds up to a serious problem for the Chinese government, as more is at stake than just the lives of their citizens, it is fast becoming an international incident. 

Amid the heckles of environmental groups and the stark resemblance of a so-called ‘nuclear winter’, the Chinese president has spoken out. After admitting that air pollution was now a ‘major issue’ the central government then went on to state that the power plants and steel mills responsible (for both vast pollution and high economic growth) will be ‘harshly punished’. What this looks like in terms of both the environment and the economy remains to be seen. 

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