China’s coal burning killing upwards of 64,000 babies in the womb each year

NEWS AND OPINION: A Chinese study has found that China’s polluted air is killing upwards of 64,000 babies in the womb each year. The research comes from Peking University and is published in Nature Communications. China is ranked fourth in the world for the deaths of babies in the womb caused by fine particulate pollution in the atmosphere. It accounts for 98% of stillbirths worldwide.

China has conflicting policies
China has conflicting policies. Image: MikeB

Find particulate matter is largely the result of the burning of fossil fuels e.g., coal. China is the world’s biggest coal burner and greenhouse emitter. They insist on burning coal and continue to burn fossil fuels knowing full well that it contributes to climate change because, in my opinion, they want to keep an economic edge on the rest of the world which is their modus operandi to dominate the world economically.

Reuters reported that in 2021 China burnt more coal than ever before, 5.2% more than in the previous year. The rate of growth of coal burning was the highest since 2011 in China, which has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

China emits almost 33% of all energy-related greenhouse gases, more than Japan, Europe and the United States combined. In fact, China burns more coal every year than the rest of the world combined.

They know this and they also know that in burning coal they are killing babies in the womb in their country as stated in the first paragraph. This conflicts with a central policy in China namely that families need to have more children because they have an ageing population. Families need to have more kids in order to power the economy to continue economic dominance.

In order to offset the economic risks posed by falling birth rates, in 2015 Beijing announced that they would allow married couples to have two children. But the public isn’t convinced. They don’t want to have children. Currently they have a three-child policy which was met with scepticism on Chinese social media. Many women are worried about the rising cost of living. Having three kids is just too expensive for most urban couples. Wages are stagnating and there are fewer job opportunities.

The conclusion is that China has a problem with birth rates and their policies are conflicting. On the one hand they insist on burning coal which is outmoded today and they are too slow to change their M.O. on energy production and on the other hand they are killing their citizens’ babies in the womb because of their coal burning at the time when it is so vital to the country to protect those babies and create bigger families.

China is doing all they can to reduce fine particulate pollution and air pollution generally in their country but they do have this dichotomy which they insist on retaining.

Find particulate matter is small particles of 2.5 µm or smaller. Fine particular matter pollution in dirty air has a greater impact on older mothers. Across the world, it’s believed that around a million stillbirths occur annually because of fine particulate pollution.

There is a moral dimension here too, in addition to the purely economic one mentioned above. China is killing up to 64,000 babies a year because of their economic policy.

You could almost envisage a mother in China suing the government for killing her baby. That might be a nice test case.

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Post Category: Air pollution > coal burning