The impact of China's slowing economic growth (6.8 percent in the fourth quarter last year but 13 percent in 2007) has hit hardest in cities in the export-heavy south such as Dongguan. There, roughly 10 percent of the 22,000 factories have closed since last year. In Zhejiang province, just south of Shanghai, at least 60,000 small factories are shuttered. Survivors have slashed production and grounded fleets of diesel-fume-belching trucks. As a result, streams where factories dumped their waste are getting cleaner and the air is less smoggy. In 2008, the number of days with dangerous levels of air pollution in Dongguan fell by 65 from the year before, mostly in the final months of the year. "When there's less work, there's less release of sewage and trash, so environmental pressures have eased," says environmental scientist Liu Zhiming of Dongguan University of Technology.
Thursday, August 20
Is a global recession good for the environment? I know I'm generating a lot less trash than I did in 2007. From TreeHugger: Point and counterpoint (and another from Scientific American). This writer makes the point any negative environmental effects of a global recession are more than outweighed by benefits stemming from a massive reduction in economic growth. And Newsweek's article from earlier this year highlights examples of recession-induced pollution reduction around the world: