China’s environment still terribly polluted, getting worse

Almost nowhere else on earth today is a source for so much environmental gloom and doom as China. To sum up: It’s bad. In fact, for those prone to hopelessness … read on, there’s plenty to get depressed about. Nearly 500 million people in China lack access to safe drinking water. About 750,000 people die every year due to outdoor air pollution and water pollution. And only 1 percent of China’s 560 million urbanites breathe air that’s considered safe by the European Union. Relatively recent attempts by the central government to control pollution have met resistance from local leaders who are often in collusion with industry. Thousands of protests and riots break out each year in the country due to pollution and health concerns, and the government has banned the publication of pollution health statistics since it could incite further social unrest. “Typically, industrial countries deal with green problems when they are rich,” said Ren Yong, of the Center for Environment and Economy in Beijing. “We have to deal with them while we are still poor. There is no model for us to follow.”