Image Source: Imaginechina via AP Images
Recent investigations into the state of Chinese pollution: China has the worst polluted skies and waterways in the world. Industrial cities are wrapped in gray shrouds and the children are getting sick from lead poisoning or similar types of local pollution.
In China more than 500 million people use contaminated water by human and industrial waste as their main resource. Air pollution (sulfur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide) is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.
China’s farmland is shrinking. Despite the country’s immense geographical footprint, there just isn’t that much to go around. Between 1997 and 2008, China saw 6.2 percent of its farmland engulfed by what the government calls “planned ecological cropland conversion,” the FAO/OECD report states. As this 2011 paper from the Land Deals Politics Initiative (LDPI) shows, industrialization and sprawl have driven a substantial amount of recent farmland loss.
Cancer Villages – China
“The United States has six times the arable land per capita as China. Today, the FAO/OECD report states, China has just 0.09 hectares of arable land per capita—less than half of the global average and a quarter of the average for OECD member countries.
A fifth of China’s land is polluted. The FAO/OECD report gingerly calls this problem the “declining trend in soil quality.” Fully 40 percent of China’s arable land has been degraded by some combination of erosion, salinization, or acidification—and nearly 20 percent is polluted, whether by industrial effluent, sewage, excessive farm chemicals, or mining runoff, the FAO/OECD report found.
China considers its soil problems “state secrets.”
China’s food system is powered by coal. It’s not just industry that’s degrading the water and land China relies on for food.
Five of China’s largest lakes have substantial dead zones caused by fertilizer runoff. That’s what a paper by Chinese and University of California researchers found after they examined Chinese lakes in 2008. And heavy use of nitrogen fertilizer takes its toll on soil quality, too. It causes pH levels to drop, turning soil acidic and less productive—a problem rampant in China. Here’s a 2010 Nature article on a national survey of the nation’s farmland: The team’s results show that extensive [fertilizer] overuse has caused the pH of soil across China to drop by roughly 0.5, with some soils reaching a pH of 5.07 (nearly neutral soils of pH 6-7 are optimal for cereals, such as rice and grain, and other cash crops). By contrast, soil left to its own devices would take at least 100 years to acidify by this amount. The acidification has already lessened crop production by 30-50% in some areas, Zhang [a Chinese researcher] says. If the trend continues, some regions could eventually see the soil pH drop to as low as 3. “No crop can grow at this level of acidification,” he warns.”
Quote Source: motherjones.com