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China Earth Government Medicine Hardware

Growing Public Unrest Leads China To Admit To 'Cancer Villages' 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the cheeriest-places-on-earth dept.
eldavojohn writes "A new report from China's environment ministry has resulted in long-overdue self-realizations as well as possible explanations for 'cancer villages.' The term refers to villages (anywhere from 247 to 400 known of them) that have increased cancer rates due to pollution from nearby factories and industry. The report revealed that many harmful chemicals that are prohibited and banned in developed nations are still found in China's water and air. Prior research has shown a direct correlation between industrialization/mining and levels of poisonous heavy metals in water. As a result, an air pollution app has grown in popularity and you can see the pollution from space. China has also released a twelve-year plan for environmental protection."
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Growing Public Unrest Leads China To Admit To 'Cancer Villages'

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  • Typo Last Sentence (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:56PM (#42984117)

    China has also released a twelve-year plan for environmental protection.

    Should read:

    China has also released their twelfth five-year plan for environmental protection.

    My apologies!

  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:59PM (#42984147)
    after my wife returned from China, and told me about the red air, it seems like a possibility now.
  • by Gabrill (556503) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:01PM (#42984173)

    I've maintained for years that China, Mexico, and similar countries going though industrial booms are simply in early stages of industrial revolution. Next we shall see environmental, wage, and health reforms, as these countries realize the need for sustainable management of their labor base.

    • by DFurno2003 (739807) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:05PM (#42984241)
      When can we begin shipping our politicians their way?
    • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:11PM (#42984323)

      Issue is that just because start of the road is the same for them, assuming that they will end up at the same goal is quite strange. East Asian countries have a very different culture, with very different approach to even most basic of things. Expecting them to end up at the same goal is rather ignorant to say the least.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:31PM (#42984655)

        I spent a few weeks in China with an anthropologist friend. We'd go to National Parks and preserves and such, only to find that someone had built a roller coaster or slide or some other tourist attraction in them. My friend explained that the Chinese culture doesn't have a particular appreciation for nature in its raw state; that rather than seeing "pristineness" as a virtue in itself, the Chinese kind of see it as a null state, such that a pristine area can always be improved by adding something to it.

        Then again, other than freaks like Thoreau, most Americans weren't out hugging trees at the beginning of our Industrial Revolution either. We were busy chopping them down to build places to live out of them. (And anybody who knows the history of Niagara Falls can understand the idea of "cancer villages" quite easily...)

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:51PM (#42984931)

          Then again, other than freaks like Thoreau, most Americans weren't out hugging trees at the beginning of our Industrial Revolution either.

          Bingo. This idea that "asian culture" is so different from "western culture" is just intellectually lazy. Sure there are differences, but fundamentally people are people, they all want the same stuff - food, air, water, sex, sleep, security, health, family, respect, creativity, etc.

          The sort of reforms we saw that came in on the western industrial revolution aren't culturally specific, they are human-specific. The implementations will surely vary along with the timelines, but the end result will be the same because if it does not get to a similar point of satisifying universal human needs, it will collapse because the humans won't tolerate it indefinitely.

          • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:48PM (#42985553) Homepage

            I'm from Utah.

            I was quite shocked to see amusement park rides at State Parks in some states East of Mississippi.

            I grew up thinking that State Parks were semi-sacred natural places like National Parks. And that's in conservative, consumptive-model-of-natural-resourse-management, Utah.

          • by Clsid (564627) on Friday February 22, 2013 @11:06PM (#42987445)

            This idea that "asian culture" is so different from "western culture" is just intellectually lazy.

            Live in China for 6 months and then we'll see if it is just a theory. Sure some things are similar, but some of the differences are so vast that it's like you are in a planet that evolved on its own.

            With the Chinese, I'm pretty sure that they will find the bare minimum of acceptable environmental policies, and then dismiss the rest of the complaints.

            And take it from somebody living in Shanghai at the moment. A woman was run over by a taxi driver because nobody respects the traffic lights for people on foot. Do you think the cars stopped when they saw her motionless body on the street? They just started to drive around it. So we have extreme different perceptions of the value of human life.

      • by Jeeeb (1141117) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:39PM (#42985461)
        Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong are all East Asian nations (or special administrative areas) which are to varying degrees culturally similar to China and provide good examples of this. South Korea and Taiwan are particularly dramatic examples of moving from autocratic to democratic government. Although it is not in East Asia, you could also add Singapore and Malaysia to this list. Singapore interestingly still has an autocratic government, while (less developed) Malaysia is in a kind of transitional phase towards proper democracy. They all have cleaned up their environment a lot as citizen awareness and sensitivity towards environmental problems has increased.
    • by UPZ (947916) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:13PM (#42984363)

      Next we shall see environmental, wage, and health reforms, as these countries realize the need for sustainable management of their labor base.

      And when that happens, their costs will rise too. It's not like manufacturing is magically expensive in the western nations for no reason (generally speaking).

    • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:16PM (#42984413)

      Ya, but it seems, the states & Europe got the best of the globe's tolerance for pollution, I don't think we can expect the same weather if every single country in the world goes through an "industrial revolution" adding to the accumulating pollution.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:33PM (#42984675)

      as these countries realize the need for sustainable management of their labor base.

      Seems to me that it was realized a long time ago. Then people realized that they could setup the system to reward shortsightedness, and could cash out before the consequences of their actions happened. Witness most of the financial industry. China seems to have already skipped over the step of making happy, productive workers and went right to the "bleed it dry immediately" model.

    • Japan went through the pollution problem, as well. And they solved it in a typical Japanese way, as seen in "Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godzilla_vs._Hedorah [wikipedia.org]

      Well, maybe a schlocky Chinese movie might at least increase awareness of the problem . . . like, "The Drunken Shaolin Master vs. Cancer" . . . ?

    • by icebike (68054) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:03PM (#42985059)

      I've maintained for years that China, Mexico, and similar countries going though industrial booms are simply in early stages of industrial revolution. Next we shall see environmental, wage, and health reforms, as these countries realize the need for sustainable management of their labor base.

      Actually, they are in the LATE stages of the industrial revolution (as any casual use of Google Earth would reveal). They are entering that state where increased disposable income and increased levels of education cause individual citizens making purchasing choices that drive the economy in a direction of more open-ness, more freedom, and more environmental responsibility. These people enter government and start working toward taking care of the environment.

      Progress is slow, but this is exactly the predicted pattern that has been seen all over the world as prosperity and education increase, people start taking better care of their environment, investments, and themselves. Much of the west went thru this in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. You rarely hear of smog alerts in the US any more. They used to be common and long lasting in the past. You actually see clear skylines over most cities these days. Hell, even the Hudson river is recovering.

      • by sethstorm (512897) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:30PM (#42985367) Homepage

        You overlooked their attempt on June 4, 1989, which resulted in the Tiananmen Massacre. People were disappeared and history revised to disappear any memory of the conscious choice of the country to choose individual freedom - instead of just being content with letting multinationals keep their workers occupied while giving the people a few economic distractions.

        A few trinkets wont change the general lack of freedom that the People's Republic of China maintains. The country's face will have to be ripped clean off with a change to a more Western-friendly government that grants freedom to people of all levels of prosperity and status- much like Taiwan and British Hong Kong before each got invaded by pro-mainland sentiment.

        • by icebike (68054) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:13PM (#42985797)

          No I did not overlook Tiananmen, which happened 23 years ago, the same year as the Exxon Valdez disaster, and the US invasion of Panama.

          This is not a political issue, it is an economic issue.

          My point is that it is simply ridiculous to state that China is just now entering the industrial revolution, when the truth is that China is in the later stages of that revolution, and is quietly entering a social revolution, which is being allowed to happen by the (nominally) communist government.

          Contrary to your assertion, I don't expect any violent upheaval in China, nor do I expect progress toward greater freedom and environmental responsibility to slow. China has never known democracy as we understand it in the west. Yet for the average Chinese citizen these are the Good Old Times. They have never had it so good in their long history. They have always lived in a feudal serfdom. It will take perhaps 50 years but they will eventually get to current western standards.

    • by sethstorm (512897) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:19PM (#42985239) Homepage

      Bring enough of the developed world in with its standards and you bypass this nasty and unnecessary part of "industrialization" - especially if it uses the displaced to help enforce it.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:25PM (#42985929) Homepage Journal

      I've maintained for years that China, Mexico, and similar countries going though industrial booms are simply in early stages of industrial revolution. Next we shall see environmental, wage, and health reforms, as these countries realize the need for sustainable management of their labor base.

      Slight difference between how Europe when through its industrial revolution - most of what was in the air came from coal burning. Bad, but nothing like substances which modern manufacturing pumps out into air and water.

      The US had its adventures with air and water pollution, sometimes in the name of Victory or progress, but finally coming to grips with it in the 1960s (Pogo sez: We have met the enemy and he is us.) EPA cleanup is still going on, with billions spent to clean up after defunct factories and such.

      China was too smarth, though. Believed too strongly in its destiny. Overlooked completely the damage the government was allowing to happen in the name of progress, more interested in pinning that 10 Yuan to the Dollar. Birds are home to roost and they look ugly.

    • by daem0n1x (748565) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:01PM (#42990587)
      By that time we'll see right-wing histerical about the Chinese ruining their economy with wussy labour and environmental regulations. Where are the poor bastards going to outsource to, to maximise their already hugely bloated profits? Mars?
  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:03PM (#42984209)

    Lest we become hypocrites...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Susana_Field_Laboratory [wikipedia.org]

    • by poity (465672) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:22PM (#42984531)

      There can't be hypocrisy unless those commenting or criticizing the Chinese government were directly involved in the US government's cover-up back in the 50s and 60s. Unless we go down the path where we regard every Briton who comments on African genocide as hypocrites, every Ghanan who comments on slavery as hypocrites, every Ukrainian who comments on Fukushima as hypocrites.

    • by sdguero (1112795) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:53PM (#42984957)
      I grew up a few miles from there in the 80s. It was awesome hearing/feeling the rocket engine tests. I don't think there has been any correlation between higher cancer rates and the communities around that facility, so I'm not sure what that has to do with the story. Progress requires some sacrifice. If we aren't wiling to sacrifice anything we will never progress. The trick is finding the right balance and personally I feel we have swayed too far into the unwilling to sacrifice territory of the last few decades.
  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:04PM (#42984233) Homepage Journal

    as soon as they hack the EPA.

  • by diodeus (96408) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:06PM (#42984263) Journal

    You can see any surface feature "from space" including the licence plate on my car with the right equipment. I'm so sick of people throwing around this meaningless term.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:07PM (#42984285)

    We are feathering [cnn.com] our environmental nest at home and stocking our shelves from unregulated hell holes.

    At some point this evacuation of our industrial base to China will emerge as a moral issue. It's already an employment issue for the working class and a fiscal issue for the nation, but neither of those seem to comfortable office people and the ruling class.

    Maybe the shame of all this will.

    Importing from regimes that do not have equivalent regulatory rigor is exploitation.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:20PM (#42984463)
    It says "In twelve years there will be no environment left to protect. So carry on"
    • by guttentag (313541) on Friday February 22, 2013 @07:56PM (#42986589) Journal
      12 years sounds about right. Buy N Large [wikia.com] estimated 5 years to clean up the whole planet with an army of underpaid worker drones. Remember, "Today is the 700th anniversary of our five-year cruise. Ask for your free Septuacentennial Cupcake in a Cup!" So the underestimated it by a bit, but that was a whole planet. Twelve years should be enough time for China to clean up one country with an army of underpaid worker drones.
  • Still waiting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:26PM (#42984581)
    Where's the explanation on how the free market is going to fix this problem without the need for burdensome regulation? Anyone? Anyone?
    • Re:Still waiting.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by chrylis (262281) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:46PM (#42984849)

      Because I just can't resist feeding trolls, a free market is dependent on property rights. In a free market, those whose air, water, or land was polluted could take the polluters to court [probeinternational.org], and in fact government protection of polluters [ssrn.com] has been a consistent feature in wide-scale environmental problems.

      • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:05PM (#42985087)
        I'm curious, what makes you qualify me as a troll? Is it because i indicated i hold an opinion that disagrees with yours? Or is it because i stated my opinion in the form of a joke, rather than using highfalutin phraseology like "I believe situations like this support my hypothesis that a central government body with regulatory power over corporations is necessary for the continued well-being of the general populace, and furthermore... [etc, etc]"?
      • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:19PM (#42985233) Homepage Journal
        What happens when the offender is a homeless bum? And the plaintiff is a not-for-profit daycare for crack mothers who are trying to get on their feet, which now has to close down? Then the crack mothers go prostituting, leaving their kids in another junkies hands to pass on all wisdom... then what? Is that the free market? One big cascade of failure you spend your life hoping it doesn't affect you? I don't want it then.
      • by istartedi (132515) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:20PM (#42985247) Journal

        Ahhhh... so what you're saying is that fences have holes. It's even possible for a thief to steal a fence post, approach the house, smash the windows, knock me on the head and steal all my stuff.

        Therefore, fences are evil and we should not build them. The logic is impeccable, and I don't know why I didn't see it before

        (yes, that was sarcasm)

        Aside from that, court means lawyers. Lawyers mean money, which poor people don't have. The poor can organize--if they aren't too tired from slaving in the rich man's fields just to survive. Their pool of money is no match for the rich man's pool which comes from their labor!

        In other words, any appeal to civil court as the remedy is objectively pro oligarch. Aside from that, how do you put a price on the extinction of salmon that once sustained a town? There would have been, say, 1000 people sustained by the fishery indefinitely. Justice implies finding some other way to sustain the population indefinitely. Lots of luck getting such a ruling from any court, or with the shell corporation that did the polluting actually having any money on the balance sheet or even existing.

        • by chrylis (262281) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:51PM (#42985587)

          This reply is so full of evidence-free Marxist cant that I'm not going to fisk it, but (a) I already provided a number of examples where "the poor" prevailed over "the rich" in such cases, and (b) the discussion isn't between private legal action and perfection, it's between private legal action and action taken at the discretion of a government agency who has no skin in the game and who is predictably coopted by your oligarchs [wikipedia.org].

      • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:13PM (#42985809)
        So who do the people in the big cities in China sue over the air pollution? All of the hundreds or thousands of companies and all of the millions of people who are collectively responsible for the problem? Do you really think that's a viable solution?
        • by chrylis (262281) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:42PM (#42986051)

          Mu. Your question is nonsensical because China doesn't pretend to be a free market or to respect property rights. Furthermore, even if it were to fully embrace both tomorrow, blaming the existing situation on the new market system would be about as reasonable as the widespread to credit/blame the president for gasoline prices the day after inauguration.

          • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:49PM (#42986129)
            So you're saying the free market can't fix the current situation there, it could only prevented it from happening in the first place?
            • by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday February 22, 2013 @07:59PM (#42986619)
              One of the fallacies you have is that if (A) cannot do (C) and (C) is desirable, then (B) must be better than (A)

              Notice how there isnt any evidence about (B) at all.

              So there you sit, trying to vilify the free market, without actually having anything of value to say.

              You know who else acts like this? Religious people.
              -
              • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday February 22, 2013 @08:25PM (#42986779)
                Go back and read the conversation again. I'll provide a brief, paraphrased recap. Please inform me if any of my paraphrasings are unfair.

                Me: How can the free market fix this problem in China without resorting to regulation?
                chrylis: They can sue the people causing the pollution.
                Me: How can they sue the people polluting the air in China? There are too many of them.
                chrylis: Well they can't sue in China because it's not a free market, and even if it became a free market you couldn't blame the free market for the preexisting problem.
                Me: So you seem to be implying that the free market can't actually fix the situation as it is now, it could only have stopped it from happening in the first place?

                So yes, there is a fallacy here, but to me it seems to be the fallacy of someone suggesting a solution to the question of how to fix the problem in China, and then saying (or at least implying) shortly thereafter that it can't actually fix the problem in China.

                All _i_ am saying is that if (A) cannot do (C), and (C) is desirable, then (A) is not the right solution to get (C).

                If you'd like to get into the evidence in favor of (B) i'd be happy to do that, but that wasn't the topic of discussion.
                • by chrylis (262281) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @02:33AM (#42987957)

                  If you're talking about steps to fix this specific situation in China, where there haven't ever been clear property rights and reasonably-fair courts, then you're absolutely right that a free market can't handle the problem, any more than you can let AT&T build a nationwide network on the back of a government-mandated monopoly and then pretend that "deregulation" means a level playing field for competition. I was responding to what I understood to be a question about handling pollution in general; mea culpa if I misunderstood your scope.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:18PM (#42985857)

        In a free market, those whose air, water, or land was polluted could take the polluters to court

        The victims would have to establish that they have been harmed. And we all know how easy it is to prove that the cancer you got was because of the pollution from a particular factory, and not the other factory down the road owned by someone else, or perhaps something else entirely.

        Good luck individually suing a city full of factories because collectively you think they caused your cancer.

        And that's assuming a remotely fair fight. It won't be. Because collectively they have more money to hire more and better lawyers then you do.

        And that's not even considering that you are out of work, sick, and have expensive health bills to cover... what with the cancer and all.

      • by sjames (1099) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:33PM (#42985999) Homepage

        So where do the people who suffer from the pollution go to get the necessary expertise to determine who did the polluting and how harmful it is? What function acts as the equalizer between the deep pockets and the turned out pockets?

      • by riverat1 (1048260) on Saturday February 23, 2013 @01:44AM (#42987857)

        Such a cute idea, 100,000 of us suing the coal plant upwind from us for the damage to our health from their emissions. Much more efficient for everyone to band together and just bring one suit. Like say we do with government? Yes, government has protected polluters but that's something that can be changed.

    • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:51PM (#42984921)
      Probably China couldn't be called a free market. However, the traditional free market response to this issue has been upholding the property rights of those who are being polluted via courts or voluntary agreement, making air pollution too expensive compared to the alternatives. No free market advocate believes polluters should not be held accountable for their actions, that's what lawsuits are for.
  • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:10PM (#42985771)

    ...that Chinese are just as delicate as Californians. Here in Texas we have oil running through our veins, we breathe ozone recreationally, and we consider lead and mercury "performance enhancing substances". It's just one reason why we can still buy all sorts of products known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, brain injury, and all sorts of ailments that we aren't concerned about much here.

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