Economic growth can be too fast, leading to attacks against children in China

Change as rapid as China is experiencing is destabilizing. Imagine you are Chinese peasant whose lifestyle does not change while everything changes around you. Your friends who became wealthy will no longer be friends with you; the girl you hoped to marry now spurns you because her family is now wealthy. The landmarks you grew up with have been torn down and replaced with modern buildings. You feel alienated and disempowered. What do you do? Perhaps these changes can explain the strange rash of copycat crimes in China that started in March 2010, when a man stabbed eight children to death while they waited for a bus outside their elementary school in the southeastern city of Nanping. At his trial the man said he was angry because he was jilted by a woman and treated badly by her wealthy family. On April 28 he was put to death, and on the same day the second attack occurred: a man in the southern city of Leizhou wounded 15 students and a teacher in a knife attack. The third attack occurred the next day in the eastern city of Taixing when a man slashed 28 children, two teachers and a security guard with an 8 inch knife. The following day a fourth attack occurred in Beijing, where a farmer attacked kindergarten students with a hammer, then burned himself to death.

According to experts, "outbursts against the defenseless are frequently due to social pressures… and growing feelings of social injustice in the fast-changing country. An avowedly egalitarian society only a generation ago, China’s headlong rush to prosperity has sharpened differences between haves and have-nots (Bodeen, AP, 4/29/2010)". Change can be too fast for systems and people to adapt; even seemingly positive change like rapid economic growth is unsustainable because it is destabilizing and causes social upheaval.


About johncayers

John C. Ayers is a Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University. As a geochemist he specializes in sustainability and also the chemistry of natural waters. He has been PI on 5 and co-Pi on 2 grants from the National Science Foundation, and has a publication h-index of 14. He has been Associate editor of American Mineralogist and Geochemical Transactions of the American Chemical Society, and does GIS consulting for the ERS group. He is currently writing a book titled " Sustainability: The Problems of Peak Oil, Global Climate Change, and Environmental Degradation."
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