While America with navel-gazing intensity has been shooting itself in the foot with a disastrous government shutdown and fiscal Russian roulette, the rest of the world has been steadily chugging onward, particularly in the most populated parts where they are ignoring the bad example we set for them a half century ago.
I’m talking about the environmental catastrophe that is shaping up in China. It’s worse than I even imagined. I knew that the air in Beijing was so bad that some neighborhood playgrounds were being covered by inflated tarps but I didn’t know that China’s crops are being poisoned on a massive scale. Now I do, thanks to a startling column by Joel Brinkley. He calls the poisoning “China’s biggest problem.”
Just for convenience, here’s the heart of his column.
Xinhua, the Chinese government-run news agency, quoted academics who blamed the surge in mass hornet attacks on “ecological reasons.” Rapid urbanization, it seems, has driven away most of the birds and spiders that are the hornets’ natural enemies.
That’s a chilling example, but a far larger problem comes from industries that are being forced to relocate to rural areas, in an effort to reduce industrial pollution in China’s cities. But now these new factories are dumping copious, untreated industrial waste directly into ponds, streams and lakes from which farmers draw the water to irrigate their crops.
As a result, farmers end up growing crops they dare not eat.
A government survey in 2006 found that 10 percent of the nation’s arable land was hopelessly polluted with cadmium and other heavy metals that wreak serious health problems if consumed.
And then in 2008, Nanjing Agricultural University published a study that said 60 percent of the rice purchased in southern provincial markets was tainted with cadmium, an element that has largely gone out of use worldwide because of its toxicity — though it’s still used to make rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries. That’s an important Chinese industrial product.
Other studies, the Wall Street Journal reported, indicated that some of this rice was also tainted with arsenic and lead.
This year, the government concluded another land-pollution study. But when the results came in, the Ministry of Environmental Protection refused to make them public, calling the results “a state secret.”
That brought an angry outcry. Even the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, posted a blog that said “covering this up only makes people think: I’m being lied to.”
The Chinese aren’t the only ones who are loathe to learn from the past, who can’t recall burning rivers, lakes so polluted they wouldn’t support fish, and smog so thick that highways stunk. Our very own Grand Ole Party as recently as the year before the 2012 election was still fighting reality. This is from a news blog in the fall of 2011:
The mantra of the House Republican led Energy and Commerce Committee has been to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Barring that, the Republican leadership (Fred Upton (MI), Chair, Joe Barton (TX), Ed Whitfield (KY), John Shimkus (IL) and Cliff Sterns (FL)) vow to do away with as many, what they call ‘onerous’, EPA regulations as possible. Lisa Jackson, the head of EPA and other EPA officials have been called to testify before various committees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee so many times, they could almost call 2123 Rayburn, House Energy and Commerce Hearing Room, their second home.
These actions have kept wily Democratic members of the Committee such as Congressmen Henry Waxman (CA), Ed Markey (MA), and John Dingell on the defensive for much of the past year.
Much of the legislation, aimed at EPA regulations have passed through the committee and will eventually pass the House. This legislation will likely fail in the Senate. Conference Committee can result in compromise which will have some negative effect on EPA’s regulatory authority.
The GOP Presidential candidates have taken up the same Anti-EPA mantra. Texas Governor Rick Perry is probably the most vocal in his opposition to EPA environmental regulations and called for an immediate moratorium on environmental regulation. Prayer, not regulations, is the answer according to Perry. Last year, his administration filed suit against EPA to block the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. He fought EPA to defend his state’s ‘flexible’ air pollution permits for oil and gas refineries.
Michelle Bachman has been quoted as say she “wants to padlock the EPA’s doors”. To her, the EPA is the evil heavy handed regulatory agenda of the Obama Administration.
Mitt Romney is backing away from his earlier position as Governor to capture carbon and find solutions for reduced emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Because of the exceptionally weak economy, the GOP is using their EPA bashing rhetoric to erroneously link environmental regulation to jobs and the economy by suggesting that we cannot afford measures that impose greater costs on business and consumers. Michelle Bachman called the EPA the “job-killing organization of America”
Strange, isn’t it? The GOP rhetoric sounds just like the crap coming out of China. The other crap is on the way via the jet stream. It’d be coming on container ships too, if it weren’t for that other job-killing pain in the butt, the FDA.
The elections are coming soon. What environmental policies will Rand Paul and Ted Cruz be recommending? I can hardly wait.
- GOP lawmakers grill EPA on water reg ‘power grab’ (kitsapalliance.wordpress.com)
- GOP: EPA move ‘unprecedented’ (itmakessenseblog.com)
- EPA’s New CO2 Regulations: Time For Congress To Step Up (papundits.wordpress.com)