On Al Jazeera NewsHour this morning, there were two reports on environmental issues in different parts of the planet. Both stories focus on the tension between pursuit of economic “growth” and the destruction of the environment. In one country the cultural heritage of a small town is also under threat. In both countries, there are attempts to develop renewables, without changing the whole system.
The first is on the increasing pollution in China as their economy “grows” – ‘Chinese battle to make land fertile again’. China does seem to take environmental issues seriously, as they attempt to invest in renewable technologies, even while their pursuit of economic “growth” pulls the country in the opposite direction.
People in China are increasingly having to deal with the environmental cost of their rapid economic growth.
A government report says nearly one-fifth of farmland in mainland China is polluted. The report was based on a study undertaken from April 2005 to last December on more than 2.4 million square miles of land across the country.
The study says 16.1 percent of China’s soil and 19.4 percent of its arable land is contaminated. It says heavy metals cadmium, nickel and arsenic are the top pollutants.
The report blames industrial and agricultural activities – things like factory waste, the improper use of fertilizers and pesticides, and irrigating land with polluted water.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reports from Zhejian Province, in eastern China, about a scientist looking to make the land fertile once more.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the authorities are planning to destroy a centuries old village and turn the area into a vast coal mine – “German countryside under threat from coal use”.
Atterwasch, near the country’s border with Poland, is around 700-years-old. Its residents and those of neighbouring villages want to stop coal producers from uprooting their communities.
Environmentalists also oppose increased coal use, as it is has higher emissions levels than other forms of energy.
Al Jazeera’s Nick Spicer reports from Atterwasch near Germany’s border with Poland.
The argument is that the coal is needed in the short term to aid the development of renewables, as a replacement for their nuclear power industry, which is being wound down.
And as this struggle between the “economy” as usual, and the urgent need to develop renewables continues, the environment is a commodity on the edge.
* I’ve forgotten how to embed more than one yt video in a post.