Despite cleanup efforts, China’s environment just keeps getting worse

China’s efforts toward environmental protection in the last five years have … how do we say this nicely? … totally flopped. The country’s economy is growing about 10 percent annually, but with pollution reduction targets based on an economic growth rate of 7.5 percent, the environment is taking a hit. According to a government report released yesterday, 60 percent of China’s land is ecologically fragile, and 90 percent of grasslands are facing degradation and desertification. Farming and industrialization are rapidly diminishing wetlands, most urban riverbanks are heavily polluted, and 1,000 new cars hit Beijing’s famously clogged and polluted roads every day. Meanwhile, local officials gain job promotions based on their cultivation of economic growth. “The conflict between environment and development is becoming ever more prominent,” says the report. Environmental damage is estimated to be costing China about 10 percent of its GDP, or $200 billion a year.