Wednesday, January 28, 2015

20 Pictures Of China's Horrible Environment. We need to Change How We Look at Being Green.

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These are some staggering pictures of the effects of pollution on the environment in China. You can check out all of them here... but you'll see a lot of them as you scroll through. 

A boy swimming through algal bloom... 

Blue sky hasn't been seen for a while in Hong Kong. This was set up for tourists.

A child drinks from a polluted stream in Fuyuan Country. Hopefully... he's still alive.

It seems horrible...

How could they allow this pollution to occur? 
In the name of growth... why are they compromising the health and safety of millions of people... 
not to mention hectares of their once pristine country...

Well, they're actually starting to learn their lessons. Time wrote a brilliant article about it. I can't show you that article, as it's in their subscription based magazine, but this Forbes article is nearly as good

The sheer environmental damage they've done has been so substantial, they've resulted in that much loss to their productivity and growth, it's FORCING them to make more environmentally sound policies. 

But when action only occurs when there are economic results... that's not promising for the environment is it... 
I mean how many times have we seen economic growth prioritized above environmental wellbeing?
But this happens all over the world.
Right now, most nations deem environmentally conscionable, sound policy too costly to implement. And as the developing world develops, they're gonna pollute more and more. 126% more than OECD countries by 2040, in fact. Note that that stat was based off figures in 2009... since then, China alone has INCREASED its use of natural resources almost 2 fold.

But they're starving... And developed nations, though they're becoming more and more environmentally responsible, year by year, are still often reluctant to establish greener practices. Australia, my country, is a prime example of that, unfortunately... 

So how do we best get them to comply with international recommendations to combat key environmental issues, such as global warming, when all there is to be seen are losses by doing it?
We learn from China.  

There's this phenomenon described as the Kuznets Curve. The idea that developing nations income per capita will increase in parallel with economic degredation, until such a point, that they can afford to think about environmental protection

China's skewed this curve entirely. In fact, they've broken it. They've damaged their environment so much they've HAD to become greener in order to maintain their growth, because the damage was harming it that much. 

So it becomes clear. The best way of forcing nations to prioritise environmental protection is to Put a Dollar Figure On NOT doing it. (I wrote this a while ago on this idea - it's pretty interesting). 

The first paper thinking this way, putting a dollar figure on protecting the environment, was published nearly 20 years ago now, and it valued the world's ecosystems at 16-54 TRILLION dollars. 

Therefore protecting them is worth our while... it's a valuable investment, right?

Well yeah, it is... but this investment pays off in the long term. Billions invested today, would save billions in the future. But you lose billions now. You also lose votes too...

But if we outlined the cost benefits to environmental policies/recommendations that had them... we'd get so many more nations more likely to wanna take action. 

We need to learn from Bridgestone Tyres.

The marketing campaign used to sell their Energy Saving tires is completely based on the amount of fuel, and hence money, people save. Hell, you'd be stupid not to invest an extra $50 now to save $100 a year on fuel this way, right? 

If we changed the way we sold environmentally friendly electric/hybrid cars, from marketing them as the "green option" - the only car anyone who gave a crap would drive (resulting in the hipster effect. Most people who drive them turn their nose up to those who don't, while those who don't think those who do, are douchebags), if we focused more on the amount saved on fuel per year ($1000 a year at least) over a 10 year or whatever-the-average-car-ownership-time-is (we use mid 2014 data for the fuel value, of course to get our message across) - that's a HUGE amount that can be added on to the value of the car. 
ALONG with it being the greener option.

Why reduce greenhouse emissions and build more sustainably? Well doing that won't only reduce the undeniable rate of climate change that's visible RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES, it'll also save BILLIONS of dollars on healthcare. The UK, a group of DEVELOPED countries, had 29,000 people die in 2013 DIRECTLY to air pollution. The picture below isn't a nuclear fallout by the way... it's people walking through Beijing city.

Beijing City, where air pollution is 40x safe level. Delhi is worse.

Why go vegetarian for 1 day a week or eat fish more? Not only will it reduce your carbon footprint, but it'll also give your poor guts a break. It's not just a sacrifice for the environment... it's one for your health too.

There's no fish left here... 

We need to think better about how we get people to change their habits. We need to realise the benefits of becoming greener more. We need to stop reporting, and ranting and raging on about it, and THINK more about HOW we can get it done... Before there's nothing left to report.

A journalist taking a sample of hugely polluted Jianhe River.

I gave more examples of how we can do this, and talked about this in more detail, with considerations of the recommendations of the Climate Change Panel here - - check it out.

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