Traveling in China: Environmental Problems

We heard the most interesting and disturbing lecture last night by a local University professor who had been requested to speak to us by our guide after we had been asking questions about environmental problems. These were motivated by our experience in Xian where the "sun never shines" or at least hardly and then only slightly penetrates the smog overhea,d caused mainly by the coal mines and refineries in the region. Our lecturer to our amazement was very forthright about the problem."I am very pessimistic" he began. And then he gave us a brief historical  perspective of the history of the problem which had really only begun in 1997 as China opened up and began to make a huge leap into the 21st century by building the biggest, the most wonderful, the most Western country in the world. It has done so, he stated, at a "very great cost."

What can be done and whether anything will be done remains to be seen. Government inspectors inspect a place and threaten to close it down, the owner knows someone, provides some money or does a favor for a government official and nothing is done. The plant stays open. Relationships are everything in China.

I will continue this discussion in another blog.

Filed under: China, Travel, Uncategorized

Tags: environment

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  • I a,m surprised the professor was as forthright as he was.

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also travelled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For the past 10 years my husband and I have been traveling to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. Last year I joined a tour to Central Asia. This year I'm going to China to work with the pandas. A new adventure. Another banquet.

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