Saturday, March 12, 2011

Civil Society, environmental pollution and sustainable development

The blog has been neglected and there are reasons. Firstly, there have been work commitments, which mean that the dolce vita and chewing the cud existence that was facilitated by my being Herr meiner Zeit has given way to a situation where a superficial surfing of the web and 9 ¥ (Renminbi) dvds now see me coming up for air rather than spouting hot air and, secondly, ........ Well, as the Renminbi ndicates; ego is in China again!

Yes, life in the hunky-dory land of blue skies and crystal clear lakes, of things that tick and things that click, of rechts stehen und links gehen, has given way to the dirty old town. Two months in Zhengzhou and two months exposed to a sky that would make you cry and factories that spew out toxics and the question that has to be asked is; "is this sustainable?" Moreover, while the  quality of the air that pollutes Henan's capital city might be deemed particularly bad, it is really much of a muchness in Zhonghua and the view across Nanjing today from my room on the nineteenth floor of the hotel is hardly going to have me scrapping my plans to return to Europe in favour of an extended stay anywhere in China.

Still, where there is life there is hope and in his speech to the 4th Session of the 11th National People's Congress, which he delivered exactly a week ago, Wen Jinbao and his mates appear to be at least aware of the problems. Now as we linguists know, awareness raising activities and noticing are fine, but at some stage of the proceedings you have to implement the necessary action and having looked at almost every nook and cranny of a country of 1.34 billion, I notice a civil society which is not too unlike that which reigned in Drumchapel, Glasgow in the early 70s and I am all too aware of an environmental pollution of the sort that the United Kingdom hasn't seen at least since the implementation of the Clean Air Act in 1961 and probably not since those bad old days when Marx and Engels were observing the unacceptable face of "Manchester capitalism". Furthermore, the scale of this is much, much bigger than Drumchapel or Manchester. He chokes, thinking, "..... it is five to midnight in China and there is no reason to be optimistic," and then reminds himself that "where there is life there is hope."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim,

You are right "where there is life there is hope' Well I think we are both alive - I hope!

From the Reader to the Essayist

Keep the flag flying which ever one it might be.

Cheers old bean