by Patrick Lozada
Image credit: Chris JL.
China produces around 80 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year, a habit which one National People’s Congress member warned places a heavy burden on the country’s national forests. Bo Guangxin, who is also chairman of a state-owned timber firm, went on to say that “20 million 20 year old trees” have to be chopped down each year to make disposable chopsticks.
Indeed, China has serious, long-term problems with deforestation, with an average per capita forest coverage that is less than one fourth of the world average. China is also the world’s largest consumer and importer of wood, much of which is purchased from countries of Africa whose people are not too happy about the arrangement.
While wooden chopsticks no doubt contribute to chronic worldwide deforestation, Bo’s comments seem more like a way point the finger back at China’s people and deflect criticism of the Chinese economy’s systematic evisceration of its natural resources. Among other things, the central government has pointed to excessive barbeque and too many fireworks as the culprits of the China’s climate crisis, so you’ll have to excuse us of if we don’t take “Chopstickgate” too seriously.