The Chinese Riposte To Ecocide In The USSR


“To see older people suffering from lung cancer is not strange,” he said. “But for a girl who is only 14-years-old, it is very awful.” – A Chinese Physician

People who are lost in the Late 20th Century continue to argue over whether Capitalism or Socialism would be better for the Earth’s environment. Christine Figueres, the UN Climate Chief, laments the fact that American Democracy makes it so hard to fight ongoing environmental decline. Letting people actually have a vote tends to complicate things. She praises China for its enlightened powerful government that can get things done!

She does this while acknowledging that they have certain, *ahem* problems with regards to their own environment. According to Figueres, they are totally on the right track because they passed a bunch of high-handed, power-grabbing environmental regulations.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

The tyrant-wannabe from Turtle Bay by way of Portugal seems to fail in her understanding of how this situation got where it was. The government of China has had the blam stick firmly in its metallic glove since Chairman Mao won the Chinese Civil War in 1949. The Telegraph UK gives us a perspective from China on how effectively that powerful government has been in fighting environmental degradation.

“Beijing government leaders and leaders of other cities have time and again expressed their resolve to tackle the problem of air pollution,” it said. “But their inaction in the face of the heaviest air pollution in a month flies in the face of their own promises and their own credibility.”

So politicians blather and make excuses. The US indulges in Security Theater while the Chinese engage in Potemkin Environmentalism. As Hillary would opine. “What difference does it make?” Charles Hugh Smith offers us a certain level of tragic insight.

— Half the population is estimated to be prediabetic (suffering from metabolic syndrome/diabesity).
— 12% of the populace now has diabetes, roughly 115 million people.
— An estimated 70% of China’s diabetics are undiagnosed; only 25% are receiving any treatment and of the 25%, the disease is only being controlled in 40% of those getting treatment.
— Noncommunicable diseases–cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, account for 85% of total deaths in China today — much higher than the global average of 60%.
— Mental disorders rose by more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2008. An estimated 17.5% of the population (225 million) suffers from some form of mental problem, one of the highest rates in the world.
— More than 300 million people in China — roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. population of 317 million — smoke tobacco.
— 200 million workers are directly exposed to occupational hazards.
— Informal estimates suggest a large percentage of the urban population suffers from lung/pulmonary diseases. Over the last 30 years, deaths ascribed to lung cancer have risen by a factor of five in China,
— 160 million Chinese adults have hypertension (high blood pressure). – Charles Hugh Smith “The Cost of China’s Industrialization: 700 Million People with Diabesity /Cancer /Lung Disease and 225 Million with Mental Disorders “

This sort of environmental commitment amongst morally self-righteous totalitarian regimes is nothing new under the sun. The Soviet Union famously bragged that it had much tougher environmental laws than the evil, greedy capitalists in Germany, Great Britain, and the US. Murray Feshbach did an amazing amount of research on the environmental legacy of the USSR and wrote the history book entitled Ecocide in the USSR: Health And Nature Under Siege.

This relates to current US politics insomuch as the new Fast Track Trade Negotiating Authority sought by President Barack Obama and favored by many powerful leaders in the GOP has a lot of undisclosed language regarding environmental standards and worldwide cooperation. A French Minister attending a recent climate summit had the following to say about what they believed could be enacted. “We must find a formula which is valuable for everybody and valuable for the U.S. without going to the Congress…” This is precisely what could end up happening if President Obama gets a blank check to negotiate under the auspices of a “Free Trade Agreement.” Let’s have this negotiating authority bill read aloud and made available to the people. We’d all just love to hear about how “valuable” this could be for the US.