In this video report from China (12 min.), the NewsHour’s Margaret Warner explores environmental issues, who’s trying to tackle them and how. Her reporting follows a couple who make their living fishing the polluted waters of Tai Lake, and who describe a dramatic decline in the health of the fish and shrimp populations. Margaret also talks to environmental protection officials, Olympic game organizers, environmental activists, a business man trying to sell his Chinese-made solar panels within China, and a member of China’s newly-minted middle class who is out shopping for a new car, even as he bemoans the environmental damage done by the 1,000 new cars that hit Beijing’s streets every day.
“The government tells us we’ve fished too much, and that’s why the water has become bad. But it’s the fault of the chemical factories. The chemical factories make big money, so that’s why the government protects them. They don’t care about us fishermen.” - Shen Xiao Mei, Fisher
“We are a developing country, and we need that development. But at some point, we have to tackle environmental protection. If there’s only economic development at the price of the environment, the public will not be satisfied.” - Zhu Tiejun, Jiangsu Environmental Protection Department
Environment: What causes pollution? What are some signs that a lake or river is polluted? How does pollution affect fishermen, farmers, athletes, business leaders, government officials, tourists? How do pollution and environmental problems in China affect the rest of the world?
China: Why is pollution a problem in China? What forces are at work that make pollution hard to tackle? How does the global economy affect the quality of life and the environment in China?
Did this report make you hopeful or pessimistic about China’s future? What did you already know, what was new? How would you balance the need for economic development with the need for environmental protection? At what point do you think environmental conditions will get so bad that the government is forced to take action? How are the issues described in the report similar to those in the United States, how are they different?
The transcript of this report
Student Voice: Tian, age 17, describes her first visit back to China since she left as a little child.
Lesson Plan: China’s Economy
Lesson Plan: Understanding Your Water: From Source To Tap And Back Again
ChinaDaily - the only national English-language daily newspaper in China
People’s Daily - English version