What are the environmental challenges facing China?

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Examine environmental challenges facing China.

For centuries, China has been the most populous nation on Earth. Today, its population's impact on the environment is evident even in the most remote areas. But with an unprecedented economic boom, these effects are taking very serious proportions. While individual use of resources remains low, the cumulative impact of steady growth in the consumption of over a billion people is tremendous.

One of the most significant environmental problems faced by China is air pollution. China's environmental protection ministry published a report in November 2010 which showed that about a third of 113 cities surveyed failed to meet national air standards last year. According to the World Bank 16 of the world’s 20 cities with the worst air are in China and the Chinese government suggests that about a fifth of urban Chinese breath heavily polluted air. The main cause of air pollution within China is its enormous combustion of coal, estimated to be around 47% of the World’s coal supply. This coal is mainly used by growing industries such as power stations which use approximately 6 million tonnes of coal each day. As a result huge volumes of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide are released into the atmosphere which has a severe impact on the health of China’s population along with its environment. Respiratory and heart diseases related to air pollution are thought to be the leading cause of death in China with only 1% of China’s 560 million city dwellers breathing air considered safe by European Union standards.

However, industrial pollution doesn’t only impact the air quality; it also has severe impacts in the water quality and availability within China. An increasing population in China has put huge strains on its…


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