Discussion Examines China's Potential Role In Environmental Collapse
September 25, 2006 9:17 PM
A SF State dean said China�s rapid economic growth is sure to bring the world closer to environmental collapse unless the country takes a cleaner path to development than the United States.
Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Joel Kassiola along with a group of SF State faculty and students gathered Monday to discuss the global environmental consequences of Chinese industrial development as that country strives to raise living standards for its massive population.
�Everyone in the world needs to have an interest in how China develops,� said to the group.
He didn�t merely point fingers at China, which releases the world�s second highest amount of carbon dioxide. The United States is the number one emitter.
Kassiola, who traveled to China in June with a delegation from the new Center for U.S.-China Policy Studies at SF State, suggested that the root causes of environmental crises are because of political problems, not scientific inevitabilities.
He said he told an audience at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China that the U.S. model of industrial development degrades the global environment and China should not do the same.
�Kassiola�s speech will be read by the highest Chinese officials,� Suijan Guo, SF State political science professor and director of the Center for U.S.-China Policy Studies, told the group.
The discussion, titled �The Dilemma of Western Industrial Civilization and China�s Path in the 21st Century: Should China Follow the West?� was part of a research series at the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Guo presented the Center for U.S.-China Policy Studies as a bridge of understanding for business, economics, politics, and research between the two countries.
�We need to encourage alternative, innovative, and creative thinking,� Guo said. �Material goods and lifestyle are the measure of wealth and development in China,� he added.
He said the center will encourage faculty exchanges between the U.S. and China and that a potential initiative is to facilitate an investor delegation to explore the option of a �Silicon-Valley model in China.� He gave no further specifics and highlighted all future projects are not finalized.
He said university faculty exchanges would foster deeper understanding by teaching participants their counterparts� global perspectives.
Kassiola said he found that Chinese political leaders he met were well aware that a potential global environmental catastrophe could cause a popular uprising in China, in effect unseating them. He said he felt that they understood the political ramifications of environment crises more than most politicians in the United States.
Another participant disagreed.
�I am very pessimistic about China�s environmental record. There is no evidence that I�ve seen, other than rhetoric to suggest that China is going against the Western model of development,� JoAnn Aviel, international relations department chair, said.
Kassiola continually stated the need to find a new model that is non-American or based solely in Western thought because he said that poorer nations suffer more than richer nations from environmental problems.
One economics student was confused.
�How can I not think of a Western model of development when that is all the perspective I get in a United States' education?� Doug Soung, 26, asked.
Kassiola suggested that the definitions of what is ideal for healthy societies needs to be transformed into a new paradigm where more free time and less pollution replaces overworked droves of commuters coughing through traffic in their petrol-burning cars.
�I don�t mean to say we are not for economic growth,� he said, �but the current Western model is not appropriate for the globe.�
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