中国与世界,环境危机大家谈

china and the world discuss the environment

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China must say no to imported waste

Jiang Gaoming

Readinch

The UK sends almost two million tonnes of rubbish to China every year. By shipping its trash abroad, says Jiang Gaoming, Britain favours its local environment at the expense of developing countries.

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It was a message from my former student, now at Sheffield University, which alerted me to the story first reported by Sky TV: that Britain is transporting huge quantities of solid waste to China. The report said that in one recent trip the world's largest container ship, the Emma Maersk, had delivered 170,000 tonnes of trash to Lianjiao in south China’s Guangdong province. Carrier bags from Tesco, the UK supermarket, and waste from food packaging were easily visible in the scattered rubbish.

Every year, China exports £16 billion worth of goods to the UK. In return, China receives 1.9 million tonnes of waste from the UK, the bulk of it non-biodegradable plastic. In only eight years, the amount of rubbish shipped to China has increased more than 150 times over.

Nature itself produces virtually no waste; one creature’s waste will be food for another. But even the most voracious of species cannot break down the organic compounds found in plastics. These are known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and 12 of the most harmful of these chemicals were restricted or banned by the 2004 Stockholm Convention on POPs. These chemicals linger in the environment for long periods and can enter the human body through food or respiration, causing poisoning, cancers and even death.

Workers pick the plastic out of this imported rubbish, which is then melted down and reused. The fumes from the melting process act as an irritant, and the chemical byproducts of the process are dumped into nearby rivers, blackening the water and damaging the environment in the city of Guangzhou, which lies downstream. But this is not the worst of it.

Burning plastics results in the release of at least five of the 12 POPs listed by the Stockholm Convention. When these criminals – both Chinese and British – dump their rubbish on Chinese soil, they bring with them these toxic chemicals. “It will take seven generations for these pollutants to disappear from the human body,” warned Li Guogang, chief engineer at the China National Environmental Monitoring Center.

Overseas waste dumping is a classic case of countries exporting their problems. The average American discards 23.4 kilograms of plastic packaging a year. In Japan and Europe the figures are 20.1 kilograms and 15 kilograms respectively, while in China it is a mere 13 kilograms. Developed countries recognised the threats that plastics pose long ago, and responded by using new materials and developing recycling. Before the 1980s in the US, waste plastic was dumped in landfill sites, but a sorting and recycling system now allows a high level of reuse. But some nations, such as the UK, prefer to use other countries as rubbish tips – exporting their pollution and turning a profit at the same time.

It is this profit that drives large-scale exports of waste overseas. British officials admit that waste exporters earn on both sides of the trade. They earn £35 per tonne of waste from local councils in the UK, and then instead of processing anything, pocket the cash and sell the waste on to Chinese importers. This trade, exposed by the UK press, has left China asking angry questions: who are these Chinese importers that are willing to endanger the health of their own people? Who is responsible for monitoring these firms? How can the local environmental authorities turn a blind eye when China’s rivers are running black? Where is the government when workers risk their lives sorting rubbish? If any one of these organisations fulfilled its responsibility, this trade would have been stopped, yet they look the other way for the sake of profit.

The UK government surely bears some responsibility. In 2005, Elliot Morley, then UK Minister for Environment, pledged to end the dumping of unprocessed waste. Two years later, the current Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare, Ben Bradshaw, said the public did not need to worry about this trade, as its impact on global warming is tiny. He even hinted that it would be a “waste of resources” for ships to return to China empty, referring in fact to the £35 pounds per tonne that would otherwise have to be spent on processing the waste, and the income that would be lost from Chinese importers. Sacrificing another country's environment to defend its own backyard – whatever happened to Britain’s tradition of the “gentleman”?

One cannot help but be reminded of the Opium Wars of the nineteenth century. To resolve their economic crisis, the British peddled opium in China – to the harm of both the nation and its people. And now they are up to their old tricks, exporting the consequences of their extravagant consumption. Even the location – Guangdong – is the same. The difference is that now the smoke comes not from the opium burnt at Humen, but from burning plastics.

By now we should be alert to these “invasions” from developed, capitalist nations; the dumping of waste in China has been an issue for years. The US and Japan are also involved, and have turned minor Chinese ports into rubbish tips. China must not allow itself to become the world's dumping ground. We must shut down the profit-seeking criminals – both in China and the rest of the world – who threaten China’s environment, which 1.3 billion people rely on.


Jiang Gaoming is a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Botany. He is also vice secretary-general of the UNESCO China-MAB (Man and the Biosphere) Committee and a member of the UNESCO MAB Urban Group.


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废物

如此多的废物之所以运到中国的唯一原因是中国资助这样的运输,因为出口中国需要新的集装箱。同时,废物不是真正没有用处,它们可以被回收再利用。

waste

the only reason why so many waste goes to china is that china subventions all transports in to china because they not only desperately need new containers for their exports...

the waste that is imported is in fact not waste ... china does not allow importing waste ...
its plastic and other raw materials that can be recycled (so the waste is shredded here to count as raw materials) that bring more money to be sent to china then being recycled in the own country.


中国国家环保总局的反应

我看到中国国家环保总局对此问题发布了新闻稿,请参阅:

总之而言, 它说将密切关注和打击任何非法的进口。我想说的是,这样做很象处理普通事物。

SEPA roused

I see that the State Environmental Protection Administration has issued a press-release in response to this issue:

To summarise, it says it will be watching the matter closely and cracking down on any illegal imports. That's pretty much business as usual, I'd say.


中国“仅仅”人均消费13公斤

作者的民族主义正在掩盖他的合理判断。不知道你有没有注意到当作者说欧洲人人均消费15公斤包装塑料量的时候而中国“仅仅”人均消费13公斤。感谢核武器!否则这个世界就会充斥着带有民族主义的中国人……

Chinese "merely" throw away 13 kg per person

The author's nationalism is clouding his rational judgment. Did you notice that he says Chinese on average "merely" throw away 13 kg per person -- when Europeans throw away 15 (!)
Thank God for Nuclear Weapons -- otherwise the rest of the world would soon be overwhelmed with nationalist Chinese.....


关于13号的评论,我认为只是因为翻译的偏差,造成了读者对作者的误解。

关于13号的评论,我认为只是因为翻译的偏差,造成了读者对作者的误解。

作者的原文是:“美国人均消费包装塑料量达23.4公斤, 日本20.1公斤, 欧洲15公斤,而中国最少,约为13公斤。”翻译文是:“The average American discards 23.4 kilograms of plastic packaging a year. In Japan and Europe the figures are 20.1 kilograms and 15 kilograms respectively, while in China it is a mere 13 kilograms. ”在作者的原文里根本没有“merely” 仅仅的含义,就这样读者从翻译文里造成了对作者的误解。这也提醒我们的翻译者和校对者们应该对待文章更加的仔细认真。

Re:comment 13. I think over-translation leads to the misunderstanding of the author's idea.

Re:comment 13. I think over-translation leads to the misunderstanding of the author's idea.The original text is: "The average American discards 23.4 kilograms of plastic packaging a year. In Japan and Europe the figures are 20.1 kilograms and 15 kilograms respectively, and in China it is about 13 kilograms." However, the translation is:"The average American discards 23.4 kilograms of plastic packaging a year. In Japan and Europe the figures are 20.1 kilograms and 15 kilograms respectively, while in China it is a mere 13 kilograms." There is no intention of making any comparison using"merely" in the original text, and this is how readers are misled by translation, which should remind our translators and proofreaders of being more faithful and careful in translation.


食品引发的思考

我是在维基百科引文中无意中看到这个网页的。我发现这篇文章有很高的民族主义倾向,可以说,成为近年来在中国势在必行的事。它有失客观性,亲眼目睹过的人是不会做出如此评价的,它让人滋生怀疑和迷惑。在此方面,我有一点简单的见解。如讨论中所说,主要问题在于,作者大手笔地渲染塑料垃圾所起的作用,从中可以看出西方在利用中国。我想请作者和读者思考一下下面这个问题:中国把其大部分塑料成品卖向世界的同时,实际上是否也把大量的不可回收的塑料垃圾出口到了世界而不用承担任何责任?

由余淼翻译

Food for thought

I stumbled upon this page through a Wikipedia citation. I find the text to be of a highly nationalistic bend, something that one could say has become something of a Chinese imperative in recent years. It takes away from objectivity and makes it difficult for people to take such statements at face value, breeding skepticism and mistrust.

In that regard, I have one simple observation. The main problem here, as discussed, is the west taking advantage of China, with the author spending much time discussing the role of plastic waste. I would like the author and other readers to ponder this point: Can it not be argued that by selling the world most of its final plastic goods, China is in fact exporting vast amounts of unrecyclable plastic waste around the world with no consequence?


回复15

我对评论15的逻辑感到愤慨。按照他的逻辑,中国往国外销售塑料,那么当国外把塑料的价值消耗完之后,中国有必要回收。那么中国是个石油进口国,而塑料最初是源于石油工业的,那么,按照他的逻辑,难道生产石油的国家有责任承担所有石油所带来的危害?我们不仅出口塑料,我们还进口汽车,中国几乎没有真正的国产汽车,那么废旧汽车,是不是也应该有美国德国的汽车生产厂家来回收?!
这不是民族主义,这是要求公平和道义。不是发达国家有钱,就能任由地出口自己想出口的,进口自己想进口的。
-Aturen

reply to 15

I am outraged at the logic of comment 15. According to his logic, China sells plastic overseas then after foreign countries have consumed the value of plastic China should then recycle it. So with China being an oil importer and as plastic is manufactured using oil, according to his logic, oil producing countries have a responsibility to bear the burden of all the harm that oil brings? We not only export plastic, we import cars. China has virtually no true nationally-produced cars, so when a car is abandoned, shouldn't we have American and German car manufacturers recycle them. This is not nationalism this is a demand for fairness and a moral justness. Developed countries have money, but this does not necessarily mean that they can export what they want and import what they want.

Translated by Mike Thomson


我的论点

其实,这些无非是利益驱使,中国的监控体系简直就是形同虚设,曾听说国外派往中国的间谍的要求是最低的,会简单中文就可以了。

不管是真是假,这也说明目前中国过于注重经济的发展,忽视了很多方面的监管力度,经济发展环境是需要宽松,但是很多时候,我们应该从国外发展的历程里,吸取他国的教训,以牺牲环境为代价发展经济,是百害无一利的.

中国官场流行的形象工程、面子政绩,拿一些片面的数据作为邀功行赏的依据,所以才会让一些无良国家有机可乘!

My arguments

These actions are actually interest-driven and the monitoring system in China is no more than a name. I once heard that the requirements of spies being sent to China are the lowest, for only knowing simple Chinese would do.

Whether it is true or not, it explains that China overly emphasizes economic development but ignores supervision in many aspects. It is true that the environment for economic development needs to be flexible. Yet, we should learn the lessons from the development history of other countries, that developing economy at the the expense of the environment would only bring harms.

Image and "face" building attempts are popular in Chinese officialdom, and officials tend to present one-sided data for the sake of rewards and promotions. Therefore, some Unscrupulous countries can take advantage.

Translated by Ming Li


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