Why Chinese pollution is such a tough problem

Alex is back, alive and well.  But he still has a raspy voice from sucking in all that air pollution.  Here is one reason why, as explained by Brad Plumer:

China’s central government is well aware that its blackened rivers and
sunless skies are a problem, not just because they’re sparking riots
and social unrest, but because out-of-control environmental degradation
is imperiling the country’s economic growth. Lately, Beijing has issued
a slew of bold–at least on paper–environmental regulations. But the
laws are doing little good because the central government can barely
enforce them in its own provinces. This structural problem will remain
the key to China’s environmental dilemma, and, as countries attempt to
push Beijing toward a cleaner future, they’ll discover that the capital
is the least of their troubles.

The central government has passed some fairly "green" laws but often to little avail:

Beijing is aware of this local lawlessness, but has had little success
handling it. "China used to send in swat teams from the central
government," says Barbara Finamore, who directs the Natural Resources
Defense Council’s (NRDC) China program. "I’ve seen these campaigns
going on for twenty years– they’ll come in, shut down some factories,
and, when they leave, they’ll open up again."


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