Have we made a deal with the devil?

From NY Times:

Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.

Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.

Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.

As a nation, do we have a responsibility to begin to wean ourselves off of cheap Chinese goods? Bite the bullet and pay a couple more dollars for a barbie doll or a hundred dollars more for our luxury items? I’d do it, but this is a market driven, global economy and there’s little chance we’ll be rolling back the clock.

Still, it seems completely immoral to support a nation that would leave more than our entire population with little access to drinkable water. I mean, maybe this just soudns dumb, but it’s WATER. How does the government not get this? Or do they just not care?

Not only that…their pollution is actually affecting California…

China’s problem has become the world’s problem. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. Much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The article is very comprehensive (and long), but I urge you to read the whole thing.

Science/Environment 500 Million Chinese Need Drinkable Water?