Jokes Don’t Keep You Healthy

Business, China, Company Strategy, Economics, Environment

Shanghaismog

By John Richardson

“I FEEL like I’m living in clouds of smog,” Zheng Qiaoyun, a Shanghai resident who kept her 6-month-old son at home told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

“I have a headache, I’m coughing, and it’s hard to breathe on my way to my office.”

The reason was another pollution scare in China, this time in Shanghai. The city’s concentration of harmful PM 2.5 particles was 602.5 micrograms per cubic meter last Friday afternoon –  the highest  since the city began recording such data last December. This compares with the World Health Organisation’s safety guideline of 25 micrograms.

The filthy air is, of course, as everyone knows, the result of coal-fired power stations, small-scale diesel generators, poor environmental standards at some chemicals and another manufacturing plants and explosive growth in autos ownership.

“It used to take me 15 minutes to walk to my office. Now that I have bought by BMW it takes me 15 minutes to drive to work,” a Beijing-based consultant told the blog a few years ago.

Jokes don’t keep you healthy, however. There is not much point in being rich if your life is at severe risk from pollution-related illnesses.

Thus,  many educated Chinese – who must stay in China if the country is going to escape the middle-income trap – might decide to leave.

And those who stay behind could be very unwilling to have children.

“I wouldn’t want to start a family unless I left the country because of the high cost of living. More importantly, though, I worry about pollution and food safety standards. The big cities in China are no longer healthy places to raise a family,” a Beijing woman in early 30s, who works for a global bank, told the blog.

This is another reason to believe that the decision to relax the one-child policy, made at last month’s crucial Third Plenum, will not solve China’s demographic problems.

China’s politicians made all the right noises about cleaning up the environment during the Third Plenum, which is a positive start.

But we continue to worry that entirely new individual and collective incentive systems need to be built in order to ensure that local governments and industrialists do the right thing – whether it is cleaning up the environment or being more prudent about adding new industrial capacity.

Everything might turn out alright in the end. But if it doesn’t, what is the global chemicals industry’s Plan B, given that it has become far-too dependent on China  as source of steady, predictable growth?

PREVIOUS POST

Rest In Peace, Nelson Mandela

05/12/2013

By John Richardson He got it, he understood it and in a fractious, self-interest...

Learn more
NEXT POST

The Perils Of An Even Weaker Yen

09/12/2013

By John Richardson YOU cannot turn 65-year-olds into 35-year-olds, no matter how...

Learn more
More posts
Shift in supply chains away from China adds costs, complexities and risks for petrochemicals
11/11/2019

By John Richardson AS PETROCHEMICALS and other manufacturers scramble to relocate their businesses a...

Read
IMF confirms global economy all about China as US threat to growth persists
08/11/2019

By John Richardson DON’T SAY I didn’t tell you. An important new IMF study confirms what I’ve ...

Read
India must forget trying to follow China and should instead launch a Green New Deal
03/11/2019

By John Richardson DON’T WORRY, I am told, India is on the way. As China undergoes major structura...

Read
China’s polyethylene indigestion persists as margins point to major downturn
30/10/2019

By John Richardson CHINA’S POLYETHYLENE (PE) market continues to display signs of chronic indigest...

Read
China’s inland petrochemicals demand will never come anywhere close to coastal levels
28/10/2019

By John Richardson ONE DIMENSIONAL analysis of China would have you believe that as per capita incom...

Read
US ethylene glycols: Diversifying away from China may prove impossible
23/10/2019

By John Richardson US BUSINESSES are making arrangements to diversify their supply chains away from ...

Read
The US places heavy bets on LLDPE at a time of demand erosion
21/10/2019

By John Richardson IT IS a remarkably single product-focused strategy given the exposure of linear-l...

Read
China’s real GDP growth below 6% as mono-ethylene glycols margins provide early indicator of depth of downturn
18/10/2019

By John Richardson GLOBAL stock markets will now doubt respond negatively to the news that China’s...

Read

Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more

Analytics

Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more