No country in history has become a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage. China is clearly not an exception. The speed and scale of China's rise has brought an unprecedented pollution problem. Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China's leading cause of death according to the Ministry of Health.
Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. The factories and spewing automobile engines recently caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled in and around Beijing.
Stores are selling out of face masks and the government struggles to figure out this political challenge and provide relief of the long-term burden on its people.
Smoking chimneys and the cooling tower of a coal-burning plant stand next to electric pylons on a hazy day in Wuhan, Hubei province, Dec. 6, 2012. China will spend 350 billion yuan ($56 billion) by 2015 to curb air pollution in major cities. (Reuters)
A laborer works atop a building in Hefei on a hazy day, Anhui province, Jan. 14, 2013. Chinese media reports the government had to take urgent action to tackle air pollution. (Reuters)