China overtaking the US economy is testament to the fact that the rise of a consumer culture has not only affected the Western Hemisphere, but it has prominently impacted the East as well. Although practices such as deforesting, channeling water, and moving mountains have made China a more industry friendly land, it has come at a great cost to their environment.
People are historical actors as they impact the structures that contain them. One role humans often play is that of the creative destructor. As a species that is incessantly modifying their environment to meet their human needs, it is important to note that no new creation comes with out the cost of destroying an old one.
This dialectical relationship between the old and the new illustrates the inseparability of human agency and environmental contextual structuring. This inseparability is particularly emphasized in the structure of a city in which creative destruction provides the framework for an economy to grow and change as seen in the industrial advancement of China. China’s accelerated economic growth has led economists to believe that in a few years, China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy, but at what costs?
Once considered to be one of the most biologically diverse environments in the world, Robert Marks, writer of China Its Environmental History, reveals the shocking truth that China has become a place in which “70-80 percent of the plant species are threatened” and “40 percent of all remaining mammals are endangered.” Although capitalist practices have provided the means to sustain and increase the Chinese population, they have also stained the vast and diverse national treasure it once was.
With the development and then spread of agriculture and the clearance of forests for farmland in China, the environment of this country has dramatically altered over the last 4,000 years. Species such as the Asian Elephant are being cornered into China’s far southwest region and the once prominent South China tiger is on the verge of extinction. Only a couple of Yangzi giant soft turtles are left and their existence is limited to the confines of zoos. As “economic growth, development, and progress almost invariably involve using natural resources and dramatically altering or degrading the natural ecosystems upon which all life on earth depends,” creative destruction perpetually redefines the Geo-historical trajectory of urbanism.
The progress attained through creating and destructing as seen in the transformation of China is the result of the conditions necessitated through industrial innovations that stimulate the interaction and new experiences necessary for evolution. Similar to how Edward Sojas, the Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and the London School of Economics deems synekism (the stimulus for urban agglomeration) to be “a vital part of the DNA of urbanism,”creative destruction is the DNA of capitalism stimulating the process of industrial advancement. Creative destruction is the essence of economic development as the world is simultaneously demolishing and reconstructing itself. David Harvey, a distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at CUNY notes, “you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
Creative destruction will continue to be a process that generates both a means for an end as well as a means for a beginning, as it is one of the driving economic motors in the world, perpetually propelling society forward.As the living economy is the context for the constructive industries that create capital accumulation and ultimately enable a city to thrive, the environment will continue to suffer at the hands of human action.
China may be quickly gaining momentum and overtaking the US as the world’s biggest economy, but it comes at a cost. The degradation of nature is irreversible. As all life depends upon her resources and her ecosystems, it is important to note that the modifications made today, may be the very source of destruction tomorrow.
Opinon by: Amiya Moretta