Environmentalism in China – Part 3/4

November 2, 2011

In China, the environmental movement started in recent years from the top down and the bottom up. Evidence of this fledgling movement appears in several Western media sources.

For a more detailed history, The China Daily’s Sun Xiaohua wrote A Legal Leap Forward, which starts with an accidental environmental disaster that took place the day before China passed its first ever draft of the Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China in 1979.

The man that caused the accidental environmental disaster was sentenced to two years in jail. As we all know, passing laws are easy compared to enforcing them, and it doesn’t matter if we are in the US or China. Some environmental disasters are accidents, as in this case, and some are intentional due to greed.

In The Atlantic, Christina Larson wrote China’s Nascent Environmentalism, and said, “Since 2007, I have been reporting in China (and elsewhere in Asia), looking at the efforts of China’s environmentalists, scientists, lawyers, and others to rein in their country’s enormous (I question the use of the word ‘enormous’ when we compare more than two hundred years of CO2 and Black Soot pollution in the US to China) pollution toll and related problems.

Larson says, “China may clean up its environmental mess eventually … but it almost certainly won’t do so in the same fashion as the West.”

Green Long March in China – 2009

 Then Arrol Gellner, writing for SFGate of China’s environmentalist ways, says, “At China’s current rate of progress, and despite its posturing to the contrary, industrial polluters may well be brought up to Western standards within the next decade.

“What’s more,” Gellner writes, “when China decides that it’s ready to tackle its environmental problems full force, it’ll move quickly. Unlike us fiercely independent-minded Americans, the Chinese people, for the most part, are far more amenable to sweeping change being imposed from the top down – a deep-seated cultural trait that stems, not from China’s trifling time under communism, but rather from its nearly 3,500 years under dynastic rule.”

Another example by Philip P. Pan appeared in the Houston Chronicle of an environmental grass roots movement to do away with disposable wooden chopsticks. A quote by Kang Dahu, a truck driver in China says it best. “The disposable ones are such a waste! We’re destroying what little is left of our forests to make them,” said Kang, 22, who does volunteer work with several environmental groups. “Just imagine, years from now, when my grandchildren ask me what happened to all of China’s trees, I’ll have to say, `We made them into chopsticks.’ Isn’t that pitiful?”

In addition, Zhang Zhe, 24, who works for an environmental education group supported by British zoologist Jane Goodall, says, “Chopsticks are just an example. People are beginning to ponder even ordinary things.”

Continued on November 1, 2011 in Environmentalism in China – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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