News You Might Have Missed: Seven Billion and Counting

BYD electric cars to the rescue

Populations are exploding – seven billion on the planet, 20 million in Beijing, and over five million cars on the city’s streets. With numbers like that comes the inevitable problems with traffic and food. How is Beijing coping with these shortages of sustainable resources? Are electric cars and farmers’ markets an answer?

October 31 could be the date to celebrate one of the world’s most momentous births. Based on demographers' calculations, some infant born that day will mark the planet's seven billionth person, most likely in India, even more likely in Uttar Pradesh. For some perspective, the world’s population has more than doubled in the past 50 years, and the population is expected to increase by another two to three billion in the next 50.

In the midst of this global population boom, Beijing is facing its own growing pains. Satellite cities around Beijing, like Tongzhou and Fangshan, which were intended by city planners to develop into their own communities independent from downtown Beijing, are instead shaping up to be mere dormitory towns. Most people living in these areas continue to work downtown, which has retarded the growth of industry, education, and health care facilities in these towns.

BYD recharging stations to the rescue. What's Chinese for 'monopoly'?

Beijing’s car license lottery, meant to handle the dilemmas of a growing population and the rise in commuters, is finally opening up ever so slightly, after thwarting would-be drivers for nearly a year. The solution: go electric and get a license on the spot, along with a sizeable stipend. The downside: You'll have to find one of the only 19 recharging stations in Beijing.

More bad news includes the most recent report on Beijing’s commute which has merely reiterated what all previous ones have said: Your car's not going anywhere, so get used to it. Beijing has also changed the rules for purchasing train tickets. Phone purchases will be restricted to three sleeping-class tickets and five economy-class tickets per person. Exactly how this will work with the real ID rule is unclear, but it’s likely the change will cause some headaches along the way.

Trying to buy a Beijing train ticket?

And anyone excited to have the world’s largest airport in Beijing will have to wait a bit longer. The project, which was expected to break ground this year, has been shelved indefinitely. There are no other reports on why the project was delayed, or when it is likely to resume.

If that’s not depressing enough, don’t forget the problem of inflation once you untangle yourself from that traffic gridlock. One proposed solution, that has supermarkets worrying, is for farmers to sell directly to urban consumers. For anyone who's intrigued, several surrounding farms already offer this service, some of which can be found in our directory here.

Oh well. A recent Gallup poll found in the past year, that only six percent of Chinese have problems feeding their families, in comparison to 19 percent of Americans. What are the chances that this poll may not have the most credible results? Are Chinese in rural Sichuan being phoned in addition to those in urban centers like Beijing and Shanghai? Or are Americans just a bit more whiny?