A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's not our problem.... or is it?

Check out:

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/waste/story/0,,2128827,00.html and http://www.energybulletin.net/32202.html

Both of these stories are talking about an ecological disaster happening right now. In China, 300 million people drink contaminated water every day. According to the article at the first link, "One third of the length of all China's rivers are now "highly polluted" as are 75% of its major lakes and 25% of all its coastal waters." Nearly 30,000 children DIE each year due to illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water. Further, "more than 17,000 towns have no sewage works at all and the human waste from nearly one billion people is barely collected or treated. Nearly 70% of the rural population has no access to safe sanitation." And it's not just a water issue. China is also suffering from huge air pollution problems, with some of the poorest air quality in the world in many of its cities. Almost 1/3 of China's land is becoming unsuitable for agriculture.

Now, there are lots of people here that think, "Oh, China is thousands of miles away. They are on a whole different continent. Why should I worry about it? It's not my problem. But maybe it is. I was reading an article the other day that was talking about what the demand for cheap cashmere sweaters is doing to China's high plateaus, where the goats whose fur yields the cashmere live. In short, it is turning those high, grassy plateaus into deserts due to overgrazing by these goats whose fur becomes cashmere sweaters available at Costco for $49.99.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love good quality clothes at cheap prices just as much as the next person. And I spend a whole lot of money at Costco. But there is a good argument to be made that maybe we are as much at fault for China's problems as China is.

You see, not much is made here anymore. Seems like everytime I look at where something comes from, it says, "Made in China". Even the Alaskan touristy knicknacks that they sell everywhere, the vast majority of them aren't made in Alaska. They are made in China. Now, that means that China has the ability to produce things cheap enough to make it worthwhile to ship it all over here for us to buy. But they can do it cheaply in part by destroying their environment in the process. But if we didn't have such an insatiable demand for this crap, and insist on having it cheap, maybe China wouldn't be in the situation they are in. So, it's not that easy to shrug it all off and say, "It's not my problem".

1 comment:

eredux said...

Check out this US Carbon Footprint Map, an interactive United States Carbon Footprint Map, illustrating Greenest States to Cities. This site has all sorts of stats on individual State & City energy consumptions, demographics and more down to your local US City level...