Red China and Green China: A Research on Chinese Environmental Protection

Today we continue our series of the winning essays submitted to Dean of Freshmen, Fred Siegel.  These freshman were selected from over 300 of their peers to attend a dinner with Dean Siegel and author, Thomas Friedman.

Our featured essay of the day is by freshman, Yuxuan Shen.

As Thomas L Fridman conveys in his book, the world has become hot, flat and crowded so that a green revolution is urgently needed to save our planet earth. As a result, the worlds biggest developed countrythe USA, and the worlds biggest developing countryChinamust play the lead roles in this revolution. For me, an international student from China who has the ambition to make a change, I would like to do a research on China to explain that why we have to face such a serious environmental situation and how we can shape our future into a green age as the book described.

Talking about China, my motherland, Friedman uses a sentence in his book to describe this developing country which he considers a heavy polluted country: “Each time I go there, China’s people seem to speak with greater ease and breathe with greater difficulty.” This maybe true because due to the rapid development, the political system is becoming more and more mature and systematic. People in China today enjoy more freedom to express their own ideas. However, another effect the rapid developing left to us is the problem of pollution. Our environment has become worse and worse, though we have already started to protect our environment. Many western people including the author are confusing about that why China chose a way it can’t afford as West did: grow now, clean up later and why China keeps developing like a bus in a movie Speed. I believe there is one thing we have to be clear and three major reasons that we must mention.

The one thing I first want to make it explained is that the western countries developed when the world is clean; energy forms were simple such as coal and wood. Moreover, only a few machines consumed energy and not so many people owned vehicles that release black tail gas. Only several countries were developing and polluting the world. So that the pollution was not heavy and easy to be cleaned up. But now things change, many forms of pollution appear and the whole world is developing everyone is now producing waste. Although we try to grow now, clean up later we cant. We may develop with the high cost of our environment, but we must clean up not only our waste but also those from other countries. This is true but we don’t want to use this as an excuse in order to escape our obligation .After all, we also have to save our planet for the next generation. The reason why I want to make it as the first thing I want to mention is that I hope the green revolution is just a revolution intended to save the mother earth, getting every country involved, instead of criticizes in ideological forms, We should view this revolution as an urgent  project  to save the earth ,not a violent battle.

After that, I want to start talking about three reasons that make China’s environmental protection so hard to accomplish. As a developing country in the world, we need to develop. Someone may view this as an excuse, but to me, I must say it is a true and urgent need. China has a long history which full of wars and unfair aggresses, a unique political system and the largest population in the world. In the 5000 years, China was once the richest country, but due to the ambitious distends carried out by other countries and the démodé Confucianism ideas, China lost a great chance to shape the world and to earn a leading position in the world. After 1840, China began as a semi colonial and semi feudal society, making China become poor and miss the chance to take part in Industrial Revolutions. China was invaded when today’s world was being shaped. Unlike the USA, it was ruled by the westerns when the developing of the modern society just began. After World War One and World War Two, Chinese start to keep developing at a high speed as our goal like our leader said before: “ Go all out for economic development because Chinese know that falling behind must be beaten and with out tremendous economic strength we even can’t keep our freedom. So we need to develop so fast. Also our political system determines that we need to develop. Because we are socialism and today there are just a few countries that are socialism. We are sometimes misunderstood by western countries because they have no idea about this system. As a result we must face a lot of questions and reproaches resulted from ignorant. In order to stride over the obstacle between the countries and gain the international recognition, we Chinese have to develop and show openness to the outside world so that we can be known by the world in today’s globalization. Also we have to meet the goal that socialism required. The third reason is there are 1.3 billion people in our country. Although we don’t want to just be GDPisms, we have to. If we don’t do that, how can everyone in China survive? The basic human right is the right to survive, without this, no one can talk about other rights. And these are the reasons that we are GDPisms and we must be GDPisms. We shouldn’t view a developing country from the developed country’s perspective .We both want to save the earth. We all should know the concrete problem should be analyzed properly and we shouldn’t use environmental issues to attack each other’s political system.

The second point I want to mention is the education problems. Due to two reasons education affects Chinas environmental protection a lot. On the one hand, provinces full of natural energy are usually provinces with low high standard education rate so people cant change their resources into money so that they live on a live which live on what can be got locally. And also these cities always locate in the western side of China where usually full of desert. So due to the historical and geographical reasons, those areas which especially need environmental protection techniques live people with low education level live on primitive grazing lives and know nothing about environmental protection, lacking of high quality technical talented people. Many people there know nothing about environmental protection not because they dont want to but due to the lack of scientific spirit and the global awareness. And the worst thing is some species they raise, like a kind of goat produces cashmere sweater even eat up grass root which make profit but destroy the nature. So we have to face loss of soil and water and desertification. On the other hand, the education system in China which needs to be improved also result in the ignorance of environmental protection. Because in my opinion, a green revolution not only requires scientific awareness, but also needs high humanity spirit a sense of responsibility, also basic political knowledge is needed but these things are just the weak point of most Chinese because as a developing country with a high industrialize speed, most Chinese view subjects belong to liberal arts as unnecessary courses. Moreover Chinese students decide their major too early, when they just enter senior high, they must choose to study liberal arts or science and the fact is due to the traditional idea and the need of our society most students choose science and most of them choose to study physics and chemistry only apart of them choose biology. And beside their major classes, they just have to study others except Chinese, math and English for just two years and after that they will properly never learn anything related to those subjects during their lifetime so they just stay in one area and this of course make them lack of both scientific knowledge and the scenes of social responsibility. Take my school as an example. There are 12 classes in my grade and two of them are students major in political science and history, one of them major in geography and history, one of them major in biology and physics and rest of the classes8classes major in physics and chemistry –which most be used for industrial development. So as a result, more and more students with high pollution produce knowledge but low humanity spirit and take no care about global issues including environmental protection go into factories. This is the cause of our environmental pollution in many modern cities. The truth is today in China where college entrance rate and degree acquisition rate are pretty high the industrial pollution is also pretty terrible. And this is also the fact happens on our leaders who are pretty good now but also only major in one science area when they were young. As a result, with so many people ignore this problem, we Chinese cared little about environment in the past but now this changes and need to be changed totally.

And last but not least, the market shows us to a wrong direction. As the law of value shows that the relationship between supply and demand can affect price. Today as we have a high standard of living, the expedition of cities and image of modern lives are the catalysts to Chinas car market. This result in more and more people own cars which cause a dramatic rise in patron need. In addition, industrialize requires more energy which most are unrenewable energy like patron and coal. So the consumer demand for unrenewable energy appears a rocket rise. In order to appeal to the market need and achieve the goal of economic—profit, producers wont take new energy forms into consideration. There are two pictures show the energy produce and use situation in China during the year 2007.

And we can see what the market need most are coal and petroleum. So can our environment become better?

The truth is, technology wont develop by itself, it only develop when it is needed. If no one need clean power and no agency hire workers to produce it, we will never have new, renewable and clean power to use. This is a universal truth not only in China but also in the USA.

So because these three reasons, China now faces with a serious environment situation, what can we do?

To solve this problem, I believe both individuals and government should work on it. And the solving method should first start with individuals’ improvement. As the society is formed by individuals, if we hope to solve a social problem, we must call for everyones effort because society is just an abstract idea but we have subjective initiative. So we have to raise peoples concern, the best way is to level up everyones education standard especially we need to change our education system. Students must be required to learn both liberal arts and science. The subjects in my opinion maybe Chinese ( students should also be required to read articles about the beauty of the nature, the serious environmental situation now and also some science fictions on the consequence if people keep destroying nature) math, English ( books should choose texts on how other countries fight for a green tomorrow to make students aware this is a global issue and everyone is working towards one goal), geography ( to teach students learn about our planet and appreciate it), biology ( so that students know that every specie on earth has equal right to live together), chemistry ( students will be shock by the enormous bad consequences bring by industrialize), political science ( students can learn about how to protect our right of survive). Also I believe Chinese schools should have a class to equip students with global awareness and humanism spirit for example when I was young, in my primary school there was a club named “Hand in Hand–Earth Village” and we learn the global environmental issues and developed world wide sight so today I become a student care about environmental protection. I really believe the education in our childhood can change a lot so education is important. For government, it should build universities to produce specialists in different environmental protection areas in different provinces. For example, in Gansu province, universities should have classes on how to prevent soil erosion and reduce desertification. In Shanxi province, students should learn how to reduce acid rain.

Second, China should continue on planned parenthood project. For three reasons. Firstly, less people consume less energy and produce less waste. Second less people need less jobs so that many illegal factories can be closed which will be a great thing to our nature. Thirdly high education rate will rise and China can change the situation as a developing country and at that time we can really start to clean.

Third, the government should control the market need. Not control all things but for our future, government should use its ability to control the market needs for unrenewable energy and waste produce and encourage new clean power because if government doesnt do something no one can do.

But to me, not only in China but also in the USA the first step to start a green revolution is not produce clean energy or hire scientists to study solar energy, what we should do first is to raise peoples awareness of crisis. Why we dont start a green revolution now? This is because we dont feel that we have the responsibility to do that. People are animals so they do things mostly from there natural abilities. Even the ones with high science and humanity accomplishment, even the ones live in the developed countries, their actions are still around themselves. We cant say this is selfish because this is an instinct so the consequence is this generation will not start to save our earth only if they see the crisis and are threatened by the pollution they create and to think for the next generation is just a slogan. We are this kind of animals. So as we have this weak point and a little bit selfish I believe the first thing to do to save our earth is to make people know we are facing with massive, dangerous and cant be neglected problem. We have too many Disney land to make us happy but we need some amusement parks which can give people the experience of the effect of destroying our environment. And we also need movies like The Day After Tomorrow and books on the crisis we are faced with. So that we can create a atmosphere that everyone knows we have responsibilities to save the earth and really start to save it.

All in all we must take action now and create a new, clean and green tomorrow or we may cry for the lost.


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