Many people use Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, to express concerns about pollution.
We have documented that Chinese urbanites purchase more air filters and air pollution masks when pollution is elevated.
Several promising trends in China’s rich coastal cities suggest that significant environmental progress is likely to take place.
Manufacturing is land intensive, so as urban rents rise, industrial activity is leaving the major cities and taking pollution with it.
China’s cities track this variation in home prices and have also used more novel sources of information to study the demand for a better environment.
In recent years, the rise of the Internet and social media, coupled with new technology such as cheap air pollution monitors, has increased public awareness of local pollution challenges.Over the last 35 years, China’s economy has completely transformed itself, thanks to urbanization and industrialization.As their country has become the “world’s factory,” hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty.According to World Bank data from 2013, China’s citizens are exposed to roughly five times the levels of particulate matter as people in the United States.This pollution comes from burning coal as well as a sharp rise in the consumption of high-sulfur gasoline, which fuels the growing number of private vehicles on China’s roads. Over the last 30 years, China’s economy grew at a rate of 10 percent per year, slashing the share of its population living below the poverty line from 84 percent to 13 percent.In addition, second- and third- tier inland cities can offer lower electricity prices to manufacturers, making them increasingly attractive destinations for labor and energy intensive industries.Happily, “dirty factories” do not simply migrate from one city to another.Between 19, China’s annual consumption of coal increased from 679 to 3,887 million tons.Today, China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.Over the same period of time, improvements in medical care and diet have lengthened life expectancy at birth from 66 to 73 years.But despite such progress, Chinese urbanites must reckon with the reality that the nation’s standard of living is not improving as quickly as its economy is growing.