Dead pigs on the road to success

China’s city-level officials like to invest in infrastructure – and transportation specifically – since doing so will likely result in economic growth for which they can be credited and subsequently promoted. They are not so keen to invest in environmental programmes, whose benefits are not always as tangible.

This at least is the conclusion five academics arrived at after conducting a study on behalf of the US National Bureau of Economic Research (http://www.nber.org/papers/w18754).

The study comes on the back of numerous environmental horrors experienced by China over the past years. In March, 16,000 dead pigs were found floating in the Huangpu River – a body of water that flows into Shanghai and provides the city with drinking water.

In May, significant quantities of rice were found containing high levels of cadmium, a heavy metal that can cause kidney, respiratory, and other diseases. Where did the cadmium come from? There’s no proof but, in January 2012, seven companies were found dumping an estimated 20 tons of cadmium in the Longjiang River, according to the Wall Street Journal.

To be fair, the study looked at data from 2000 to 2009. Perhaps the findings would be different if the study was carried out now.