'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Toxic Smog Cloaks Beijing During Climate Talks
“If a society can’t tolerate one person expressing their ideas, then it will inevitably have to tolerate all kinds of evil (including pollution)”
With many outdoor activities canceled, some residents used
the free time on a new hobby: drawing the outlines of buildings on photos where
the landmarks have disappeared into the smog. These pictures made the rounds on social media and were even
promoted by state media outlets, which until recently referred to the pollution as “fog”.
But not all Beijing residents were content to wallow in dark
humor. China’s microblog platform Sina Weibo buzzed with discussion of the smog
Monday, including references to a now-banned environmental documentary. Former investigative reporter Chai Jing captivated the
nation this spring with a viral An Inconvenient Truth-style documentary that
detailed how polluting industries walked all over China’s environmental
regulations. The film, "Under the Dome," gained hundreds of millions
of views and appeared to have the support of certain government factions, but
it was soonwiped off Chinese video sites.
In one widely circulated Sina Weibo post, Beijing venture
capitalist Wang Ran pointed the finger for the smog at the government censors
who smothered the film. “If a society can’t tolerate one person expressing their
ideas, then it will inevitably have to tolerate all kinds of evil (including
pollution),” Wang wrote.
Meanwhile in Paris, Chinese President Xi Jinping to work
with President Barack Obama to forge a new global climate agreement, but he also
defended China's right to pursue further development. "Tackling climate change is a shared mission for
mankind," Xi said during his speech at the UN conference, known as COP21. One year ago, the two presidents raised expectations for the
2015 climate summit when they made joint pledges to cap and reduce emissions over the
coming decades. Those pledges -- while far from guaranteed to become reality --
greatly changed the calculus among climate watchers as to what is within reach
at this year’s summit.
China’s carbon pledges may be made to the international
community, but they’re deeply rooted in domestic, economic and environmental
realities. China’s economy is in the midst of a grinding transition away from
heavy polluting industries such as steel, cement and glass, whose voracious
demand for coal has blackened the skies of Chinese cities.
Popular awareness of pollution appeared to have turned a
corner in 2013 when the first widely publicized “airpocalypse” episode struck Beijing. Public outcry led
China’s leaders to declare a “war on pollution” and institute mitigation measures. These
combined with plummeting profits in the steel and coal industries appeared
to have actually made a dent: data from Greenpeace East Asia showed a 15.5 percent reduction in Beijing air pollution in the
first half of 2015, with an average fall of 16 percent across 189 cities. That trend is promising in the long run, but it is of little
comfort to the Beijing residents struggling to make out the skyscraper across
the street today.