Over the weekend, Beijing experienced one of the worst sandstorms in Chinese history; sand mixed with pollution was blown eastward from the Gobi Desert and blanketed Beijing and places as far away as Hong Kong and Taiwan. South Korea has already issued a sandstorm alert and Japan and even California nervously await the invasion of Chinese sand.
Over the past few years, dust and sand storms have been growing worse in China due to desertification. These storms pose threats not only to the Chinese population, they threaten all nations to China’s east. A 2006 NY Times story categorized toxic pollutants as one of China’s leading exports and presents evidence of this waste reaching the Western US. China’s continuous and unregulated push toward modernity and advancement doesn’t just pose an environmental threat leading to global warming, it challenges America’s health. The toxins and pollutant particles blown over are microscopic which makes it easy for them to penetrate the respiratory system resulting in increased lung illnesses. With last night’s passing of healthcare reform, the invasion of Chinese pollution resulting in increased rates of respiratory and cardio illnesses presents a greater threat to American taxpayers.
Regardless of whether our government’s approach to China and development incorporates health concerns not only for Chinese workers, but also for American citizens, there is something we can do to help alleviate the sandstorms and the likelihood of Chinese sand and pollution reaching our mainland. We can abandon our fixation with Cashmere wool. The global demand for Cashmere has played a heavy hand in the desertification of China. Cashmere comes from goats and with an increasing demand more goats were needed, unfortunately Chinese scientist couldn’t develop a goat that grew more wool or could grow it faster.
We, the people of this country, need to stand up for our health and environment by abandoning our infatuation with Cashmere and demanding our government to pressure China into enforcing pollution regulations. But, the US is not the only country that covets Cashmere, so do the Brits, thus we also need to encourage the British Parliament to prevent further production of Cashmere toilet paper.