“Poverty and Waste”

China suffers scarcities of almost all resources in per-capita terms – and yet waste seems to be a national habit. Guan Zhonglian and Tu Fangxiong’s Poverty and Waste – Worries for China’s Natural Resources describes the shocking destruction and waste of those resources.

The structure of this book is simple, with the scarcity and waste of different resources – food, water, hydroelectricity, land, forestry, coal, oil, minerals, roads and oceans – all dealt with in their own individual chapters. Ample data and case studies are presented for each. 

The cultural and systemic roots of this behaviour also are examined. As the authors say, scarcities and abundance do not, in themselves, lead to frugality or waste, and this counter-intuitive fact is an overlooked vulnerability. They hold that, rather than pointing fingers at those responsible for waste, we need to re-examine the laggard cultural beliefs and educational direction that has led to it.

Towards the end of their book, the authors express a wish to see a sustainable and conserving society – as will the reader.

Poverty and Waste – Worries for China’s Natural Resources
Guan Zhonglian and Tu Fangxiong
Haiyang Press, 2007

— By Li Siqi