The expeditious growth of industry in China over the last decade has been disastrous for the country's environment. China is currently the number one producer of carbon dioxide in the world and hundreds of thousands of people die a premature death each year thanks to pollution.

Even with new regulations on waste disposal, air and water pollution continues to rise. Often, factories, chemical plants and mills dump waste directly into waterways and chemicals flow from farms down into the soil and watersheds. Rivers have become choked with algae and slick with oil, while thousands of dead fish continue to wash ashore in some areas.

In fact, pollution is so bad in China that it's having an effect on weather in the United States. Smog travels across the Pacific Ocean on the jet stream and adds to levels of air pollution in the U.S.

It's no longer just their problem; it's our problem, Kim Prather of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego told CBS News in December.

The atmosphere has no walls, she said. So pollution on this side of the world can make to it the other side of the world in about five days.

At home, pollution is affecting citizens adversely. China's Ministry of Health said in November that cancer -- largely caused by pollutants such as formaldehyde and pesticide -- is the country's biggest killer, followed by cerebrovascular diseases and respiratory diseases.

The main reason behind the rising number of cancer cases is that pollution of the environment, water and air is getting worse day by day, said Chen Zhizhou, a health expert with the cancer research institute affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, told China Daily.

Many chemical and industrial enterprises are built along rivers so that they can dump the waste into water easily, Chen said. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides also pollute underground water.

The contaminated water has directly affected soil, crops and food, he added.

But China is in the midst of a green push and the country is significantly invested in renewable energy. In 2010, China invested $49 billion in green energy, the most of any nation, and is expected to spend more in coming years.