Blog EntriesContemporary Society

Reflections on China 2014: The Growing Environmental Crisis


A second major impression during this visit was the growing environmental disaster that is unfolding. One leader described it as "watching a disaster take place slowly but inevitably before your eyes." We have all heard about the smog in Beijing, but it is hard to describe walking through the haze and fighting to breathe, realizing that even your surgical mask cannot filter out the smoke, dust and pollutants. It brings home quickly just how critical the situation has become. The tragedy is not limited to Beijing. Almost every major city in China is experiencing significant problems with smog (for a stark visual illustration, look at this map). The reasons are not hard to discover.

China added more cars last year than the total number plying its roads in 1999, illustrating the challenges the government faces in controlling vehicular emissions and traffic congestion in its cities. The vehicle population reached 240 million last year, of which 120 million were passenger cars. The 15.1 million new cars added last year were more than the entire car population at the end of 19991. At the speed at which China is adding new cars on the road and building new coal fired power plants (as of July 2012, China's government planned 363 coal-fired power plants for construction across China, this amounts to an almost 75 percent increase in coal-fired generating capacity. China already ranks as the world's largest coal consumer, accounting for almost 50 percent of global coal use2) the future looks bleak. Even worse is the situation with the water. So much of it is polluted that there is speculation the next great war will not be over oil but the availability of clean water.

Into this disaster the church needs to speak with a clear, prophetic voice calling the society to care for creation and stop the decline before it is too late. Here is where a true understanding of the gospel, the breadth of redemption, and a solid creation theology is needed in the church in China if it is to be a voice and influence in this crisis. While so many Evangelicals in America still recoil from the idea that God called us to be faithful stewards of His creation, that message is urgently needed as part of the core theology of the emerging Christian church in China.

Our proposed Faith and Generosity in China Initiative will play a role in helping God's people connect their faith with the care of His creation. Please pray for the funding for this initiative and ChinaSource's influence in helping the church integrate stewardship training into its core teaching and work of nurturing disciples of Jesus Christ.

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1 "China Vehicle Population Hits 240 Million as Smog Engulfs Cities" http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-01/china-vehicle-population-hits-240-million-as-smog-engulfs-cities.html (January 31, 2013).

2 Luo,Tianyi, Otto,Betsy and Maddocks, Andrew Maddocks, "Majority of China's Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants Located in Water-Stressed Regions" http://www.wri.org/blog/majority-china's-proposed-coal-fired-power-plants-located-water-stressed-regions (August 26, 2013).

Photo Credit: China Hope Live

Luo,Tianyi, Otto,Betsy and Maddocks, Andrew Maddocks, Majority of Chinas Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants Located in Water-Stressed Regions http://www.wri.org/blog/majority-chinas-proposed-coal-fired-power-plants-located-water-stressed-regions (August 26, 2013).

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R. Scott Rodin

R. Scott Rodin

Scott Rodin has a passion for helping Christian ministry leaders take a biblical approach to leadership development, strategic planning, board development and raising kingdom resources. Over the past thirty years he has worked with hundreds of organizations in the U.S., Canada, Middle East, Great Britain, China, India, the Philippines and... View Full Bio