Too Hurt To Heal


Elizabeth Barna — Honorbound

Some countries including China have put GDP growth ahead of their environment which has endangered numerous species natively; “Chinese GDP growth over the past decade has been the envy of the world, but it has come at the cost of significant environmental degradation”[1] (NE, 197). Making a better GDP each year make destroying the environment look good for the country’s economy. The problem with this way of looking at an economy is that there is a major opportunity cost: natural resources. Not only does a country consume scarce products when destroying their environment for a better annual GDP, it also ends up hurting native species. It will take years to reverse this harmful cycle. Fortunately, China has learned their lesson of consuming economic goods and have been conserving efforts to heal their environment and protect endangered species. Although the Chinese government has learned the importance of addressing their environmental issues rather than destroying them for a better GDP growth, there is not enough time to reverse all their problems and heal every animal’s population crisis. Therefore, they have to choose who to save.

More recently, China has had some victory in moving the panda population off the endangered species list to the vulnerable one; the vulnerable list is still bad, but an improvement from the endangered one. The Tibetan antelope has also been moved off the endangered species list. Healing the environment is tricky because it takes lots of time and reduces GDP growth which for some people is not a good enough incentive. China’s government started efforts to protect and heal the panda population in 1985 and are just recently reaping the benefits of their hard work; “Giant pandas are national symbol in China, their native habitat, and the I. U. C. N. said on Sunday that efforts by the Chinese government to reverse the slide of the population, using forest protection and reforestation, had been successful”[2]. It has taken thirty-one years to reverse the cycle and move the pandas off the endangered species list, so to save other near extinct animals, China has to act quickly.

The Chinese government needs to start helping their eastern gorillas which have become even closer to distinction and their plain zebras which have become “near threatened.”2 Just because the Chinese government was successful with one group of animals does not mean that they will be for the rest of the endangered ones. They have to pick and choose which animals they will prioritize to save. Too much time and effort is needed to save one group, that they will probably be unsuccessful in saving all their native animals. This is the price they pay for destroying their environment for a better annual GDP growth.


[1] Charles, Wheelan, Naked Economics, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), 197.

[2] Liam Stack, “The Giant Panda Is No Longer Endangered. It’s ‘Vulnerable.’” The New York Times, September 6, 2016, accessed September 15, 2016,



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