By Hou Dongmin
Published: 2007-12-27

From Comments, page 14, issue no. 347, December 24, 2007
Translated by Lam Li
Original article:

Amidst mounting criticism from the West over China's environmental record, some scholars are now taking a different view: The West's dependency on Chinese products has in fact just transferred the cost of pollution to China. The idea is emphasized in the latest report from the UK-based New Economic Foundation.

The independent think-tank also suggests that the focus of discussions about climate change should shift from blaming the producing country entirely to also holding consuming countries responsible.

In another publication, Japanese monthly magazine Voice's November issue carried an article by Professor Takemura Shinichi entitled, "The World is Polluting China". He points out that as China becomes the world's factory and churns out a myriad of goods for global consumptions, it has also borne the environmental costs-- at a global scale.

Although China's environmental problems are rooted at home and its environmental policy leaves much to be desired, these views are not totally baseless, and should be further explored by both the developed and developing world.

Consumerism-Driven Production
The period between the Second World War and the 1970s marked the steady rise of western consumerism, which pushed for both high production consumption, and led to heavy pollution.

Since 1972 when the global environmentalist movement started to campaign for change, the developed world has seen results. But environmental conditions in the developing countries have gradually worsen.

Throughout the 1970s, the West had maintained high economic output and high levels of consumptions while its environmental conditions improved. It appeared that with efficient conservation management, sustainable development seemed achievable.

Although some environmental advocates have criticized excessive consumerism, economists have often held it as the positive drive for growth. In fact, there is a common believe that if the Americans cut spending, it would be a prelude to economic downturn; the world seems to wish for never-ending growth in American consumerism.

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