Impacts of Industrialization and Modernization on the Environment and Local Communities

Impacts of industrialization and modernization on the environment and local communities

Industrialization and modernization are the new norms experienced in different countries. Due to increased economic activities and improvement of the technology, nations are fast-tracking their competitiveness in the global market by differentiating the products and services. This paper will compare the impact of industrialization and modernization on the environment and local authorities in China and Japan. It is practical to compare these two countries since they lie in the same geographic region. Therefore, they share a common root in culture and perceivably passed through similar hard economic times, which makes them an ideal option for comparing how industrialization and modernization have had an impact on the environment and local authorities. Despite the challenges that both countries have passed through, both have achieved the success of varying degrees. Japan has grown into a developed country, while China is the so-called emerging economy. The rapid growth that China is experiencing has attracted a considerable number of researchers, and soon could be in the list of the developed countries. In that case, the path of modernization and industrialization taken by the two countries have extensively impacted the environment negatively and supported focus on economic development at the expense of human health.

Six decades ago, China experienced a tremendous transformation of its economy, from agriculture to industrialization. The number of people employed in the secondary industry has continued to increase, which translates to compounding the challenges that come along with industrialization and modernization. It is also important to note that newer technologies are being unveiled in China, and production is now leaning towards machination, speeding up the production and manufacturing of products. One of the impacts that these developments have had in the environment is the increased pollution rate, posing a health risk to the locals. According to Annual Report on Environment Statistics issued by China’s environment department, industrial emissions of sulphur dioxide accounted for 91% of the total emissions, which was the lead cause of smog and other health complications (Zhang et al.264). Also, Zhang et al. (265) noted that water and land contamination are experienced in China due to the snowballing industries in all sectors. Combined with the high population, environmental degradation in China has been a significant issue of concern, attracting local and international governments seeking interventions to abate the impacts.

China’s challenges regarding environmental degradation were fueled by the government’s laxity in control of the surge of industries and rapid transition from the use of coal as form energy. The government focused on building more power plants, and the economy was booming. There was an instance of increasing economic productivity at the expense of what too much power plants had on the environment. The goal was to increase electricity consumption and bring power to the population growing to around 1.1 billion by the years 1991(Barbara 8). Since addressing climate change was not high in China, the environment was primarily impacted. Up to now, the country struggles with air pollution being the leading menace of industrialization and modernization.

On the other hand, though a developed nation, Japan also faces the challenges of environmental degradation. The primary sources of pollution come from emissions and effluents from the countries spread across the country. However, the difference with China is that Japan started recording the impacts of environmental pollution early enough and understood its implications to the community. The government was able to gradually mitigate the essence of industrialization’s negative implications by using modern technologies to treat waste. According to Goto-Jones (2016), Japan is today’s post-industrial economy, combining affluence and social stability. The assertion extrapolates the fact that the country is aware of the need to uphold its citizens’ health, despite driving the economy by increasing the industries. This concept of considering the social well fare of the population lacks in China, a situation that has complicated management of environmental issues.

Furthermore, industrialization and modernization have resulted in the spatial reconfiguration of the population, with many people moving towards urban areas. During industrialization, China has recorded growth of industries in the urban areas, and the rural regions left with less development. Due to this, the population surge is experienced in the towns resulting in overcrowding. Many people in cities have imparted pressure on the available resources such as social amenities and infrastructure, converting town into inhabitable environments. Notwithstanding, the high number of people increase economic activities, heightening greenhouse gas emissions, which are the lead cause of global warming. According to Mitter (73), modern China is characteristic of improved technological advancement and a high population of close to 1.4 billion people. As such, the country is recording a great consumption of energy and amplifying the settlements in the cities; these compounding environmental pollution. A similar situation was observed in Japan, where 91.7% is the urban population. However, compared to China, Japan has a population of 126.5 million people, and therefore, records fewer people in the urban centers. Another factor to consider is that since Japan is more developed than China, the urban population is more well managed. Hence the impacts on the local environment are less. Goto-Jones (70) noted that the densely packed urban of Japan brings a host of economic, environmental issues, many of which are common to industrial societies. Similar to what is experienced in China, Japan faces pressure in infrastructure and health services.

For the three decades, China has achieved remarkable economic development, but the rapid growth has resulted in damage to natural surroundings. China’s Environmental Policy and Urban Development addresses environmental issues and policies in China. They have made milestones in ensuring that companies comply with regulations by enacting policies, like ordering the closing of coal-fired power plants and banned the use of coal. The approach reduced the particulate matter in the air significantly. Also, China came up with the new 2018-2020 Three Year Action Plan for succeeding in Blue Sky War, which would apply to all cities in China. While most of China’s government targets are to deal with the issues of pollution locally, Japan has a modal shift from the local policies, allowing the government to tighten standards beyond the local government. This is also done by incentivizing the business to use clean technology and adhere to the set policies. This approach has enabled the population to embrace the need to take care of the environment, thus reducing the government’s involvement in policing the people to follow environmental policies and laws.

The paper highlights that the impacts of industrialization and modernization on the environment and the local authorities in Japan and China relate. In both states, the environment’s influence is similar, since land, air, and water are affected by the industries’ emissions and effluents. The only difference comes in the extent of the pollution, which in this case, China was identified to have more hostile spread. A notable difference was determined in the way the two states manage the environmental issues. For China, policies and laws have been put in place for the population and stakeholders in the economy to follow. Japan has, on top of systems, actively involved the business community in luring them to take personal responsibility for environmental protection by offering incentives. Overall, industrialization and modernization have depressed the environment, expansively ignoring their consequences on human health.

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