Chandrakant 'CK' Isi
22nd Apr 2014
In last few decades, our neighbour China has achieved excellent economic growth. All thanks to its industrial and agricultural might. Every electronic product we buy today is either produced or assembled in China. Be it a multinational company or some shady Indian smartphone brand, they all prefer to manufacture devices in Chinese factories. Why? Because of an exceptional mix of cheap labour, lack of human rights, and robust infrastructure.
As they say, development comes at a cost. China’s rosy development story has a darker side. After my first-hand experience with Shanghai’s unbearable smog, I turned to internet and found out that such things are quite common in China. According a report posted by TheGuardian.com, air pollutant concentrations in Chinese cities hit up to 505 micrograms per cubic meter. To put things in perspective, the World Health Organisation recommends a safe level of 25!
He Dongxian, professor at China’s Agricultural University College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, has compared this pollution to Nuclear Winter. In case you didn’t know, it’s a hypothetical situation that may arise if multiple nuclear explosions take place in a certain area. The smoke and dust cloud can cover the Earth's stratosphere, and block Sun for months. Due to the lack of sunlight, the temperature in that area drops drastically.
The water situation isn’t different. It’s well documented fact that most of China’s water supplies are contaminated by sewage, heavy-metals, and pesticides. In 2007, NYTimes had raised the alarm after learning that the same toxic water is being used for fish-farming. The situation hasn’t improved a bit even after the global outcry over this issue.
Now, if all this wasn’t bad enough, a new study now reveals that that about 20 percent of China’s soil is contaminated. Mind you, these are official numbers from year 2005 published by the Chinese
dictatorshipgovernment. So expect the current figures to be worse than this.
The report blames “industrial and agricultural activities” for this massive ecological mess. According to experts, land pollution is very difficult to control and remedy compared to other types of contaminations. It’s undoubtedly a serious situation for people living China. However, it will also affect us Indian. Here’s how:
Gadgets Might Get Pricier
If China decides to tackle these ecological issue sincerely (which it should), there will be stricter guidelines for factories. Currently, the manufacturing plants release the toxic waste in lakes and rivers without any issue. New rules, if implemented will require these sweat-shops (where electronics are churned out 24x7) to invest money to get toxic treatment system in place. And trust me that costs a lot of money. The additional cost will be passed on to consumers’ pockets. So in future, prepare yourself for expensive gadgets.
This may not be relevant to technology, but I think it’s safe to assume that all the tech-enthusiasts across the world consume food. Right? In agricultural output, China beats our country with a huge margin. In 2012, the China produced 571 million tonne of food grain compared to India’s 250 million tonne. Little wonder then, Chinese fruits and vegetables are flooding the Indian markets. Sometimes, these products are cheaper than their Indian counterparts. However, now there’s a clear indication that your next purchase of Chinese Lychee or Garlic may contain mercury, cadmium, lead, and arsenic. These heavy-metals are known to have adverse effect on kidneys, liver, bones, skin, and neural system.
Should You Be Worried About China's Toxic Soil?
That's a yes, if you use gadgets and consume food.
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