It is human nature to want to succeed economically. As human history has evolved, economic development has been increasingly linked to building and manufacturing which has led to increased pollution and decreased open space.
So, while we continue to follow our human nature and to develop and succeed economically, it is important that we be mindful of our impact on the environment and on our own health.
21st Century China
Right now China is establishing itself as an economic and major power at an impressive rate of speed. Yet, with its rapid gains has come an alarming rate of pollution.
Like all people, it is in the human nature of the Chinese people to want to succeed. However, there are reports that their own economic success is very dependent on coal. Coal is a major pollutant with toxic qualities. China’s own Ministry of Health reports that pollution has made cancer China’s number one cause of death. It is estimated that only 1 percent of the 560 million city residents in China breathe safe air.
China may be in the rather unfortunate position of having its industrial revolution after Britain, the United States, Japan and other countries. Countries like the United States were certainly heavier polluters during the time that they were climbing toward an industrialized society. Then, true to human nature, once success was obtained, the countries began to be more concerned about the mistakes they had made along the way including pollution and the effect on the environment. Now, countries like the United States are critical of China and its pollution as China takes its place in the industrialized world.
Another part of human nature that is contributing to China’s environmental problems is that each person wants what is best for himself or herself without sacrificing for the greater common good. For example, automobile ownership in China is exploding. Few people, in China and elsewhere, seem to be willing to give up their own car. However, many complain about the cumulative effects of car ownership including the problems associated with harvesting oil and gas and with the pollution caused by using automobiles.
It is feared that China’s dependence on fossil fuels is ultimately tied to its economic success. If China was to fail economically then that could bring about a whole new set of problems. So, while no one is suggesting that China change the course of human nature and retreat back to an age of less industrialization, many are suggesting that China find a way to meet its goals without destroying the environment for present and future generations.