Cancer Villages

[Image: Via Blogger News Network].

The BBC reports today on China's so-called cancer villages.
In Shangba, for instance, a "river runs to the side of the village, its shallow waters rippling over smooth stones. In the past," the BBC writes, Shangba's "villagers relied on the river for drinking water, and to irrigate their crops. What they did not know was that mines further upstream were dumping their waste into it."
Run-off from the mines has now built up as "a thick red residue at the water's edge" – yet a suitable source for clean water has not been found.
China's problems with cancer are obviously not limited to Shangba. "This is a situation repeated across China," the BBC continues. "Some 320 million people drink polluted water every day." The Telegraph calls these polluted sources China's cancer rivers.
Last year, Common Dreams pointed out that the exact connection between pollution, drinking water, air quality, and China's rising cancer rate is actually harder to make than you'd think. For instance, "lack of evidence remains a problem as local government officials pressure doctors into staying silent over the link between pollution and the high cancer rate."
Meanwhile, air pollution in China is so bad that the country has generated "toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung."
Thanks, China!

[Image: Via Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages].

Parts of China now see "darkness at noon":
    Cancer rates are soaring, child health is a time bomb and the population, many of whom are heavy cigarette smokers, are paying the price for China's breakneck rush to riches and industrialisation – an estimated 400,000 premature deaths nationwide because of pollution every year.
All of which continues to point toward the militarization of China's natural resources, wherein once wild rivers will be replaced with bottled water trucked in from afar – an artificialization of the riverine world explored last year on BLDGBLOG as "hydrology under military escort."

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Anonymous Jack Dahlgren said...

Geoff,

You mentioned the best way to contact you is by leaving a comment, so this is only tangentially related...

According to the mayor of Nagasaki, Gunkanjima Island (you posted about it several years ago) is supposedly going to open as a tourist attraction in 2008.

More about it here:
http://zo-d.com/blog/archives/architecture/ruins-as-tourist-attraction.html

January 18, 2007 12:30 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Hey Jack - Great news! Thanks for the tip.

January 18, 2007 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

That's the price they pay for the rapid industrial advancement...

That's exactly why I avoid foods exported from China. Hong Kong, being so close to China (well it's a part of China now...), has gotten the worst of that. There have been people dying from chemial-rich vegetables from China. They have even exported baby formula that was "fake" and babies in Hong Kong have gotten seriously ill (I don't remember if there were any deaths) as a result of its consumption.

People in China have lived in poverty for too long, and some will do anything to survive.

Hopefully, when they've become a bit more stable economically and otherwise, the government will start cracking down on pollution issues, and other issues also caused by not-so-perfect ways of making a buck.

January 18, 2007 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like america in the 1920s

January 18, 2007 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Manaugh,

When you received such a picture of polluted China, when you sneeringly said 'thanks china', did they also tell you that there are 200,000 tons rubbish shipped to China from UK as a great gift? And, thanks UK, U.S.A., and others, this '200,000 tones rubbish' is not only one.

January 19, 2007 11:38 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Thanks, anonymous!

January 19, 2007 2:26 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

PS: Anonymous, if this makes you feel any better, the above post did originally contain this sentence: "It is worth emphasizing that the Chinese government is not to be criticized for polluting its environment; rather, in any discussion of China's soaring cancer rate - not to mention its strange and ongoing experiment with medical cover-ups - it seems much more relevant to point out that the UK exports 200,000 tons of trash annually."

Thanks again.

January 20, 2007 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mr.Manaugh. See, I do not use "!".

To be honest, the rubbish from UK might not be only and mainly responsible for the situation of heavy pollution of China, though UK exports not 200,000 but actually 1900,000 tones of trash annually since 2005, as 8 times as that of 1997.

Normally, people will say that is due to the plenty of 'low'-industries of China, and the desire and greed of businessman, and so on. So right so far, but anything else?

Yes, it is too complicated. When Blair announced proudly UK as a 'post-industrial' country, where are they? Those industries hava been moved into other countries, specially developing countries. So, is UK really protecting the environment? Or, actually only the environment of UK? When you complained the "toxic clouds" from China, how many American companies and capitals are pushing that behind it?

Thanks, globalism! Not only economy, but also environment.

January 21, 2007 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, a mistake.
...1900,000 tones of trash annually since 2005, as 158 times as that of 1997.

January 21, 2007 2:05 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

I hardly disagree with your larger points: 1) that "western" industrialism has been exported to other nations, like China and India (Slavoj Zizek wrote something like, "America's working class is alive and well and living in China"), which has led to egregious amounts of cancer and pollution; and 2) that the country I live in is hardly non-polluting - but the above post doesn't make that second claim.

You seem to think that the Chinese government can do no wrong? That Tony Blair dictates and Hu Jintao obeys? Is it really so bad to point out that certain decisions made by the Chinese government - which, after all, isn't some long-distance computer, programmed by Dick Cheney - have had horrific consequences? Was Britain also responsible for the Cultural Revolution, then?

How great would it be to be the Chinese government! You can do anything you want, and someone will always protect you.

If you reverse this and start giving England credit for everything good the Chinese have done, then you would be instantly - and rightly - accused of racism; but if you say that everything bad the Chinese do is England's fault? Then you think you're some rising hero of anti-globalization.

January 21, 2007 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I do not want to be misunderstood. So, three points:
1). The duty of Chinese government definitely cannot be denied. How bad are they? Millions of news and comments can be found on internet and tell you that. Do not want to say more.

2). The duty of the "western" also cannot be denied. It does not simply mean "nation", "government" or "industrialism" etc. The dramatic increasing of industries of China cannot be alive without "western" capital and those international big firms. The pollution-control is actually not only a question of technology but also an economic matter. "Western" investment recieve higher gain in China because of lower cost of production. But, please do not forget: the absence of pollution-control is one of basic contribution for such 'low cost', not only the low salaries of poor chinese people.

3). Unfortunately, the world is not dominated by Blair, Bush or Hu etc, but rather by the capital and the desire of people behind it. Hero was dead in 1968.

January 22, 2007 4:45 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

OK - understood. Thanks for coming back.

January 22, 2007 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, this is really interesting thanks for posting it up. I understand that China has a huge problem here that needs to be addressed however when you say:

"Meanwhile, air pollution in China is so bad that the country has generated "toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung."
Thanks, China!"

I realise the pollution from industry is most toxic but that cloud of smog over LA is not down to China... And the US is one of the worst offenders when it comes to environment so before we thank China for polluting America maybe we should take a look at what America is doing and could do a lot better??

January 23, 2007 7:36 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

In any future articles about China's disastrous environmental record - or about pollution in Russia, or in Romania, or deforestation in Brazil, or mine tailings in Indonesia - I'll be sure to devote most of the article to discussing pollution in the United States.

Do you see a single indication in the above post that I think the US is not a major polluter? Or that China is the only source of California's air pollution?

If I discuss a serial killer who has murdered 10 people, should I excuse his or her behavior because someone else out there has killed 11? Or 12? There's always someone worse.

And if I'm citing articles about the rise of "cancer villages" in China, do you really think, editorially, that it makes more sense to talk about air pollution in the United States - and not industial pollution in China, for instance? Are we not allowed to offend the Chinese?

Finally, if it's a scientific fact that air pollution from China reaches California, do you want me not to report it - perhaps because such information offends your sense that the US is at the center of the world?

January 23, 2007 6:11 PM  

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