Summer Olympic Games are held every four years in various venues across the globe. The Summer Olympics are a world-wide competition that invites each country to send its best athletes to compete in sixteen days of events, ranging from basketball to martial arts. It promotes sportsmanship and moral principles above all, but also dedication, hard work, and athleticism. When a country hosts the Olympic Games, it is required to provide comfort, and safety and security for all of the people that wish to attend because the whole world will be watching the event on television. The 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. Unfortunately, China has a major pollution issue; there is air pollution as well as water pollution. It is imperative that these issues are resolved before the Olympic Games next year.
In regards to air pollution, China is listed as one of the top three contributors of air pollution emissions in the world (“Pollution”). While it is believed that the largest cause of air pollution is motor vehicle emissions, there are many other sources, including chemical and power plants, oil refineries, and most other heavy industry. These factories and plants release toxins into the air which deplete the ozone layer surrounding the earth and harm human health. On a very recent trip to China, Satoko Ishikawa, an American citizen, said, “The dust and smoke were so thick that, almost from the moment our aircraft landed, my husband and I started nervously re-checking our departure arrangements and wondering exactly how many breaths we would have to take before it was time to leave… the pollution began to return just as we were leaving…” (10) The pollution has become so bad that some people may not want to attend the Olympic Games, but rather watch it all on television if the pollution is not stopped.
According to Jonathan Fenby, of Financial Times, China is currently following a five-year plan, created by Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the Communist party. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), this plan calls for a ten-percent reduction of pollution emissions, but so far, China’s pollution emissions have risen (Fenby 17). Analysts of the Beijing Review reported that sulfur-dioxide (SO2) emissions increased last year by 1.8 percent (Power Plants to Cut SO2 Emissions by Two-thirds 1). This totals to a whopping 25.94 million tons of sulfur-dioxide emissions, with at least half of the pollutants originating from power plants run through the use of coal. The Energy Information Administration said that the combination of increasing sulfur-dioxide emissions and soot from the combustion of coal has led to acid-rain affecting one-third of China (“China: Environmental Issues” 1). This acid rain pollutes the China’s limited water supply.
Water-pollution in China is just as bad, if not worse, than the air pollution. Over the past few years, China’s industry and economy has experienced a large amount of growth and prosperity, but the government is not adequately distributing funds among the many firms (Wu et al. 251-256). The water-pollution has only increased of recent because China’s water-supply and treatment infrastructure is very weak. Failure to increase the amount of water-treatment facilities and improve them will most likely result in an increased number of deaths because of the fact that water can carry millions of chemicals, toxins, and diseases. The Olympic Games can not be held in an area that is unfit for human existence.
Up until 1998, China did not have any type of environmental protection agency. The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) was the first; it was created in order to circulate environmental policy and regulations throughout the nation and gather information about the environment to facilitate the improvement of it state of condition (“China: Environmental Issues” 1). Even with China’s environmental organizations and the help of the government, pollution continued to remain high.
The government has been the least effective force in the fight against pollution. The first law that the government passed to combat pollution was the Cleaner Production Promotion Law. This law created programs with the sole purpose of demonstrating how to lower rates of pollution. It even pointed out the most heavily polluted areas in China that required attention. The Cleaner Production Promotion Law proved ineffective because of the absence of the word “mandatory”. People simply did not follow the law most likely because of the fact that following it was optional.
Specifically regarding Beijing, the Energy Information Administration said this: “In an effort to reduce air pollution in Beijing, the municipal government in 1999 ordered city vehicles to convert to liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas. By 2002, Beijing had the largest fleet of natural gas buses in the world – a total of 1,630 vehicles” (“China: Environmental Issues” 1). Unfortunately, a report by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) in 2003 showed less than satisfactory progress toward China’s pollution removal goals. Since 2003, there have been no laws passed related to the issue of pollution. This poses a major problem for China since the 2008 Olympics are just one year away. If the decaying environment is not enough, maybe the massive wave of negative publicity that the Olympics normally carry with it will inspire the government to take action.
At the moment, China is considering its options for lessening pollution. According to the Energy Information Administration, China is currently researching and testing new technologies to prevent air pollution and treat any water pollution (“China: Environmental Issues” 1). A small step was taken by SEPA last month when the vice-director, Pan Yue, suspended 30 national projects that were not able to reach its environmental standards (Bremner 1). The problem is that currently in China, there is no effective legislation to clean up the environment. China has done very little to solve its pollution issues of recent. Time is of the essence, and something needs to be done immediately. The government has laid out multiple plans to solve pollution, but has taken no action.
The Olympics Games are a world-wide competition that joins the best athletes from every country for sixteen days of events. The host country of the Olympic Games is selected three years in advance of the next Olympics in order to give that country time to prepare for the event. The host position is highly regarded because of the publicity that the Olympic Games bring in. Beijing, China was selected as the location for the 2008 Summer Olympics. There is only one problem standing in China’s way: pollution. If China is not able to clean up the environment enough to provide for the comfort, safety, and security of the crowds that will watch the games, some people may not attend. Lastly, if that occurs, the amount of negative publicity that China receives will be devastating.
- Bremner, Brian. “China’s Big, Dirty Secret.” BusinessWeek. 1 Feb. 2005 <http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/feb2005/nf2005011_6686_db065.htm>.
- “China: Environmental Issues.” EIA. Jul. 2003 <http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/chinaenv.html>.
- Fenby, Jonathan. “Beijing is aiming to cut industrial pollution levels.” Financial Times Jan. 2007: 17.
- Ishikaa, Shatoko. “Beijing and back, hardly drawing breath.” Financial Times. Jan. 2007: 10.
- “Polluted Water Puts 2.5 Mln Residents at Risk” Beijing Review. 3 Apr. 2007 <http://www.bjreview.com.cn/headline/txt/2007-04/03/content_60801.htm>.
- Pollution. 2007. 8 Apr. 2007 < http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Pollution>.
- “Power Plants to Cut SO2 Emissions by Two-thirds.” Beijing Review. 29 Mar. 2007 < http://www.bjreview.com.cn/headline/txt/2007-03/29/content_60424.htm>.
- Wu, Changhua, Crescencia Maurer, Yi Wang, Shouzheng Xue, Devra Lee Davis