I was glad to see that both Climate Progress and Grist are finally drawing attention to the fact that cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Perhaps now people will start paying attention to the health consequences of pollution.
I've been pretty flummoxed lately by the abundant attention being given by the press to asthma and respiratory disorders as sequelae of air pollution. Yes, asthma is a problem—it kills eleven people each day in the U.S.—but at least it is treatable and usually controllable, unlike the cancer, birth defects, and neurological diseases arising from toxic pollutants in China (and undoubtedly elsewhere). With all the talk about saving the planet "for our children/grandchildren" and the perils (such as mass migrations and wars over water) that “may” face us “this century” “if we don’t act soon,” I've begun to think that even those of us concerned about the environment have protective mechanisms we're unaware of: without being climate change deniers, we can be climate change avoiders, preferring to think about the distant impacts of our (in)action rather than the very clear and present dangers we face now, and, indeed, have been facing for decades.
In any case, the Grist article provides more background than my post on the topic. Though it does hint that the West bears some culpability for the problem (wanting to buy cheap goods made in China), it doesn't go as far as I did (namely, suggesting that our manufacturing plants in Asia are likely polluting the rivers just as much as any other plants there).