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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!

  • after my wife returned from China, and told me about the red air, it seems like a possibility now.
    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      In other news, according to the Chinese government, the red air is just propaganda highlighting China's communistic heritage.

    • Was she speaking metaphorically?

      • by Khyber (864651)

        Come out to the Inland Empire and you'll see that, no, she was not speaking metaphorically.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      after my wife returned from China, and told me about the red air, it seems like a possibility now.

      In another forum someone posted some photos of air and water pollution. It's no surprise (or shouldn't be to anyone) about the water pollution in the lake behind the Three Gorges Dam, which means effectively the who river downstream suffers the same ills. Skyrocketing rates of esophageal cancer in China have made me eliminate any further purchase of food which has been grown or processed in China. As goes the air and water, so goes the crop.

      The price of their economic growth has been explored by a few BB

  • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

        Th

        • 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)

            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 ackthpt (218170)

              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.

              That reads like you are alluding to Dollywood, a greater blight in the midst of the Smoky Mountains one will never find.

          • by Clsid (564627)

            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

            • 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.

              Do you understand that that sort of callusness was not uncommon in the US during the industrial revolution? Don't make the mistake of assuming that being on different places on a developmental timeline means that they are headed in a different direction.

            • by Raenex (947668)

              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.

              I saw the same kind of story in the US news at some point in the past year. The greater the concentration of people, the less the average person cares about another average person. Just another face/body in the crowd.

      • 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)

      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 jandrese (485)
        Then they'll just have to find some third world country to offload their pollution to. Maybe the government of North Korea could be convinced to let them open factories there in exchange for whatever riches the Chinese can dump on the Kim family.
      • by dryeo (100693)

        The thing is that it isn't that expensive in the west. The problem is the rich insisting that they have a right to get richer at an increasing rate. If the wealth was spread out a bit better, everyone could have a not bad job and the rich would still be quite rich.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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 cl

        • by icebike (68054)

          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 asser

    • 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)

      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 s

    • by daem0n1x (748565)
      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)

      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)
      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 de
      • I don't think there has been any correlation between higher cancer rates and the communities around that facility

        #ScienceFail

  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:04PM (#42984233) Homepage Journal

    as soon as they hack the EPA.

  • by diodeus (96408)

    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 WilliamGeorge (816305) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:15PM (#42984397)

      You can't see clean air from space - it is clear. You can see heavily polluted air, though. The idea is that there are so many pollutants that the effect is visible on a large scale - you can see where it is heavier and where it is lighter (or completely not present, though I suspect little of China's populated area has truly clean air).

      • by lgw (121541)

        You can't see clean air from space - it is clear.

        "Why is the sky blue?"

      • I suspect little of China's populated area has truly clean air

        FWIW I was in Xian a few years back, and the air seemed fine (from human pollutants, the desert dust was thicker than anyone would like though). I don't think that's the industrial region of China.

    • by Gabrill (556503)

      True, but I usually take the "from space" figure of speech to be visible from low earth orbit with 20/20 unassisted human vision. Yes I am aware that low earth orbit is a grey area, and not 100% entirely "outer space".

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      You can see any surface feature "from space" including the licence plate on my car with the right equipment.

      Everyone but you knows that "from space" means that the equipment involved is the naked eye. (Presumably, through glass and inside a comfortable bubble of atmosphere.)

  • 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 Gabrill (556503)

      Sure it's exploitation. Given that there is no way to practice inter-nation commerce with a nation that does NOT have identical environmental, wage, and human rights policies, the only alternative is to seal our borders and live without the benefits of global economies. You know, things like foreign oil, electronics, rare minerals, and imported EVERYTHING.

      • by sjames (1099) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:43PM (#42984823) Homepage

        There are many nations that are close enough. There's no need to seal our borders, just avoid the worst offenders, in particular the ones that have at some point introduced poison into the food supply.

        • by Jens Egon (947467)
          Can you please name a country that has not at some point introduced poison into the food supply?
      • Given the natural resources of the United States, what makes you think we couldn't do it?

    • We are feathering our environmental nest at home and stocking our shelves from unregulated hell holes.

      Submitter here, this link [slashdot.org] was removed from my submission. To be fair it was a link heavy submission so it was probably smart. Obviously we're on the same planet as China and when this negatively affects the planet it also affects us.

      So you already have an interest in not purchasing materials from heavily polluting companies. The problem is that the "free market" as it exists (yeah, I know it's not truly a free market) does not give a single fuck about the environment. We don't even have a way of ra

      • ...which also doesn't work. I think people just aren't designed to grasp a community as big as the one we have. When you live in a village, you see the consequences of your actions, so you avoid shitting in the pond. Today, we have no idea where our shit comes from and who's dying in the manufacturing process. It's not just that there's no available time in our lives to inspect what we buy (both because we buy too much crap and because our time is limited and information simply isn't readily available). We

  • 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)
      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)
        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]"?
      • 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)

        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'

        • by chrylis (262281)

          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)
        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)

          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)
            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)
              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)
                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 f
                • by chrylis (262281)

                  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

      • by vux984 (928602)

        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 r

      • by sjames (1099)

        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)

        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.

    • 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 sjames (1099)

        What of people who own no property yet still breath the polluted air? Does libertarianism accept the existence of the commons?

  • ...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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