15 June 2012

If it ain't one damn thing ...

That China's waterways are badly polluted, is common knowledge. Less well recognized is the increasing pollution of its land. Zhou Jianmin, director of the China Soil Association, reports that, "More areas are being affected, the degree of contamination is intensifying and the range of toxins is increasing."

The main culprit is arsenic from China's 280,000 mines. Lead and heavy metals from factories and overuse of pesticides and fertilizers by farmers also contribute.

Chen Tongbin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, while recognizing that the biggest challenge is still water pollution, states, "In the future, the focus must be on soil pollution because that is much harder to deal with. Soil remediation is an immense and growing challenge." Other scientists warn of dire consequences for food production and human health if the challenge isn't met. Chen estimates that up to 20 per cent of China's soil is seriously polluted.

The Chinese government is at least aware of the problem and has been conducting a soil survey for six years. Nonetheless, little has been done and the scientists involved say they have been forbidden from releasing their preliminary findings. The latter will sound familiar to Canadians.

We humans are an ingenious species. We seem to be able to invent no end of ways to foul our nest.


  1. Hi Bill. Read a fascinating report in Asia Times yesterday - http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/NF14Ad01.html - that suggests contamination of China's water and soil resources has left the country unable to sustain a population of more than 700-million.

    Some Africans contend that China is looking to relocate 300-million or more to their continent. It's a mind-boggling idea but the notion that China can't sustain its 1.2-billion population with its degraded environment certainly isn't.

    And wait until the strong impacts of climate change reach the People's Republic.

  2. You're scaring the hell out of me, Mound.