Courage needed for a country fit to live in

Updated: 2014-02-28 07:23

By Chen Weihua(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Courage needed for a country fit to live inThe persistent choking smog that shrouded Beijing and the nearby area for the past week made headlines around the world. The smog, with the PM2.5 reading going above 500, was so bad that it prompted the World Health Organization to declare a health crisis. "Nuclear winter", "uninhabitable" and "life expectancy cut by five years" were just some of the dreadful words filling the media reports.

It should not come as a surprise that the nation's capital suffers such heavy smog, as it is surrounded by some of the country's most polluted cities, mostly in Hebei province. Even in Shanghai, East China, the PM2.5 reading stayed around 170, three times higher than the healthy level recommended by the WHO.

The question people in China are asking is how long they will have to breathe such noxious air.

Scholars declared that China was facing an environmental crisis as early as the late 1980s, but their warnings were clearly not heeded. For example, we have seen officials being removed and arrested for corruption and sex scandals, but none have lost their jobs or been punished for allowing their cities to become some of the most polluted in the world.

So far, which companies had to declare bankruptcy due to the heavy penalties imposed for the serious pollution they caused? How many business owners were put behind bars for the damage they inflicted on the environment?

The laws may have been there for years or decades, yet they are not strictly enforced, or not enforced at all. In fact, such lax enforcement has invited more rampant violations in the past decades.

Yet if smog cuts a person's life span by five years, then the polluting factories have taken the lives of at least thousands of people, a crime punishable by death, given the death penalty still exists in China.

In the United States, there are some who ask if the US Environmental Protection Agency is too powerful. In China, the question might be whether the Ministry of Environmental Protection has any power at all, given that so many factories continue to defy regulations and pollute the air, rivers and soil.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page