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Unformatted text preview: Ramy Shweiky GEOG 257 Term Paper Professor McKenzie Sustainable Development and China: A Rational Choice? Ever since Deng Xiaoping revolutionized China’s economic structure in 1980, bringing millions out of poverty and essentially turning his country into the world’s biggest factory, China has been on a roll, economically that is. China’s economy has grown tenfold over the last ten years, and currently has the second largest economy in the world behind the United States, with a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of nearly seven trillion dollars (CIA). China has easily been the fastest growing major nation for the past quarter century, posting unprecedented double-digit GDP growth rates over that time period. Taking into account China’s enormous size and the fact that about twenty percent of the worlds population lives within its borders, China will almost certainly continue to have great impact on the global economy in the near future. While the topic of China’s economic boom has found itself move from the classroom of economics courses to neighborhood coffee shops, what may not be part of conventional wisdom yet is the way in which China has achieved this great amount of economic success. That fact of the matter is that sixteen of the twenty most polluted cities in the world are located within China’s borders. The same nation that witnessed its economy skyrocket over the past ten years is unable to provide clean, drinkable water to over one-third of its citizens(Yardley 2). The effects of China’s pollution is not limited to its own nation either, as some U.S. researchers believe the effects reach as far as California, citing almost one-third of the states aerosol pollution originating directly from Asia (Turner 3). China is indeed choking on its own growth (Kahn 1). China, not unlike other western countries during the industrial revolution, has built its success economically on a foundation of ecological destruction (Economy 3). The destruction of the environment in pursuit of economic growth is ironically threatening China’s economy, as well as public health, and threatening to induce permanent damage to many of its valuable natural resources. In this paper I will introduce the term “Sustainable Development”, which in short is defined as: “Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs” (UN). I will explain this concept in detail later on, and aim to show that it is in China’s best interest to abide by this type of development in contrast to its “pollute first, clean up later” mentality. I will explain this point of view by exploring China’s environmental policy and destruction, its streak of economic success, and various case studies illustrating the serious effects of its ecological destruction. Using simple cost-benefit analysis, it will be evident that given the effects of China’s ecological destruction, the threat of permanently losing valuable natural resources, such as water, and usable land,...
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- Spring '08
- Water supply, Drinking water, Water crisis, People's Republic of China