China: Largest Urban Migration In History

Recently I came upon a startling fact. China is in the midst of a vast urban migration. It seems that Chinese peasants are flocking to industrialized areas in the search for higher income and opportunity. As a result, China now has over 200 cities with 3 million inhabitants or more. Cities have sprung up out of nowhere as companies relocate to China to capitalize on the cheap labor.

China is also in a huge growth spurt and its energy useage is soaring as a result. From reports, there seems to be little in the way of pollution control. This disturbing trend is occurring as people in the US are starting to come out their deep sleep about global warming. The implications appear grave.

One question to think about is this: If we in the United States are able to control our carbon release, what about developing countries such as China? Clearly the US with 5% of the world's population using 25% of its energy any reduction we make will be extremely helpful in preserving the planet's future. What about China? China continues to depend a great deal on coal and reports indicate that they continue to build vast numbers of new ones. Will are actions in curbing our carbon releases be dwarfed by China's march into modernization?

I am also concerned about what might happen to the rural people's attachment to nature as they leave their close relationship with the earth behind in search of the good life and consumption that urban living might promise them. Removing themselves, as many Americans have done, from a bond with the natural world will not support them in to coming to terms with the choices that must be made if we are to survive industrialization. In the terms of human history, industrialization has been an experiment. The word is not in yet on whether or not it has succeeded. Clearly, it has ravaged our world in gargantuan ways. A burning question that will be addressed whether we like it or not is: will our addiction to money and power prevent us from taking the necessary steps in preserving our future?


Anonymous said…
I think you are mistaken in lamenting the urban movement of China's population. Yes, they will, almost by definition, be leaving behind a more natural existence. But they are also leaving behind all the negative aspect that go with that--such as distant access to quality education, medical care, and goods and services of all kinds.

Ultimately the choice is one of the migrant (no one is forcing them) and they seem to be moving in droves. So what does that tell you about their choice?

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