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China is destroying itself

China is destroying itself

Preface. China has been destroying itself for many decades now.  In Mao’s “great leap forward” about 35 to 50 million are estimated to have died from starvation from 1958 on, as you’ll read in my book review of” Shapiro J (2001) Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China in this post.  China continues to destroy itself by leveling mountains for more flat land, eroding topsoil, creating land and air pollution, destroying forests and more (Li 2014).

Other nations are wreaking environmental damage on themselves as well for the Almighty Dollar, but China is the “winner”. No other nation can compete. China controls about 63% of rare earth rare metals, and 90% of the supply chain, from extraction, processing separation, and refining, to manufactured goods. If new mines were built in other nations to lessen dependence, it would take about 15 years to construct one, and most of the production would probably be sold to China for processing and assembly into parts for products made in china (GAO 2010; AI 2019; Hui 2020).

But why compete? Let China monopolize the second most polluting industry on earth. Mining spews out acid rain, wastewater, and heavy metals onto land, water, and air (PEBI 2016). One-fifth of China’s arable land is polluted from mining and industry (BBC 2014). Mining the materials needed for renewable energy potentially affects 50 million square kilometers, 37% of Earth’s land (minus Antarctica), with a third of this land overlapping key biodiversity areas, wilderness, or protected areas. If mined, that would drive biodiversity loss, harm (rain) forests, and poison ecosystems (Kleijn et al. 2011; Hickel 2019; Sonter et al. 2020).

Renewable energy is anything but clean and green. And quite a Pyrrhic victory for China!


Li, P., et al. June 5, 2014. Accelerate research on land creation. China’s campaign to bulldoze mountains to build cities needs expertise to avert geoengineering problems. Nature 510: 29-31.

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