Between reading our last assignment “China’s Coal Future” and a few recent articles on China’s pollution and the Olympic Games, I am angry at yet another example of how people are allowed to suffer and die until a financial incentive comes along to convince the powers that be (the government, some corporation, etc.) that reducing pollution is worthwhile. I was actually quite astounded to read in “China’s Coal Future” that “pollution is the leading cause of death in China.” I had previously known that China suffered from serious pollution problems, but did not know to what extent. If this is known and fairly undisputed, why is this year’s Olympic Games going to be held in China? I see that reaching out to China is possibly improving the lives of numerous people (at least improving their air quality) even if the Chinese government has chosen to do this only for pecuniary reasons. But I feel the Olympic committee should think about how much money will be going in the pockets of certain Chinese government officials as compared to how much long term quality of life improvement the Chinese people will actually see. What standards must a hosting nation meet? Well, according to the official website of the Olympic Movement the games bring people together to “respect universal moral principles.” I do not know exactly what these principles are, but I would imagine respecting life to be one of them. Whatever one may think of the government of the United States, at least in this country the common citizen can speak out against their government’s policies and try to make changes. Short of threatening physical harm I can criticize this administration’s connections and policies all I want.
Thankfully, according to an article on BBC.com http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7264957.stm , in China there will be a “new standard for car emissions,” a “new type of less-polluting petrol will be available” and starting in July both “Beijing and Tianjin will restrict private car use, allowing only odd or even registration numbers to go out on any given day.” Hopefully this will result in the people living and working in the vicinity of the Olympic Games breathing air that will be up to the standard “laid down by the World Health Organization.” The last measure would certainly cause problems in the US where we feel a definite bond to the freedom our vehicles give us. I only wish we, as a global community, would look to the progress China may make in such a relatively short time and voluntarily implement some (or all…) of these measures.