Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, June 23, 2006

The People's Republic Of Filth

Every environmentalist in the U.S., instead of busying him/herself with gallant battles to save a tree or swamp or stop a windfarm, should pack their bags and go to places like China, where there actually remains a need for an environmental movement.

Aren't we supposed to think globally? Then check out this little info-bit from the NYTimes on what's going on in China, which, last time I checked, was a part of this globe:
China is the world's largest producer of coal, and much of it is mined here. While [the central-China province of] Shanxi provides the fuel that powers China's sizzling economy, thousands of acres of land are sinking because of the ravages of underground coal mining.

Moreover, coal fires are burning uncontrollably below ground here and through much of northern China, adding to global warming by releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Each year, scientists say, about 200 million tons of coal — more than was burned in all of Japan last year — are consumed by raging underground fires that are sometimes started by lightning and sometimes ignited by mining accidents.

Environmental experts call Shanxi a wasteland. The people of Shangma Huangtou call it a home they no longer cherish.

Indeed, the tremors here have not stopped, residents say. And so after years of suffering with increasingly foul air and sandstorms fed by a growing man-made mountain of coal waste, now 50 stories high, created from an open pit mine, the residents say they have had enough. They have petitioned to leave this village.

"People at my age don't like to move to a new place," said Wei Yangxian, 71, as he stood by the village road. "But we have no choice. We have no water. The earth is sinking. The air is poisoned. And there's that big man-made mountain."

One of the primary reasons why China is undercutting the world marketplace -- besides slave labor and slave-like labor -- is that it spends about 0% of its GNP on environmental protection. It can no longer cry that it's poor and needs special breaks. Instead of buying up US currency and US companies with its surplus, it should be forced to take care of its land and its people.

But it's a pipedream. No, wait! There might be hope for the villagers of Shanxi and the farmers who have had their land stolen for billionaires' villas and the factory workers who work in toxic environments: Send in the Greenies!

Unleash the enviro-litigators, the tree-sitters and the eco-freaks! Graduate whole classes of environmental studies B.A.s and put 'em on the slow boat to Shanghai! They say they're not happy in Bush's America anyway, so pack 'em all up and let them do their stuff where it's really needed, in the glorious People's Republic.

Photo: NYTimes
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