I knew about China’s reputation for its air and water pollution long before I moved here. It is also the first thing people notice when they visit China, especially, in the capital city of Beijing. China’s mainland is now the world’s number one polluter and the pollution is taking its toll on people’s health and well-being. It has also become a major embarrassment for the Chinese Government and the Chinese people are now demanding Government regulations to curb the amount of carbon emissions that is being emitted into the atmosphere.
- One in five people in China would consider themselves
conservationists and they speak out against industries that have a
reputation of polluting the air and waterways.
- The pollution in China is also a major concern for the
country’s tourist industry. People in the past have traveled to China to
experience the country’s rich cultural heritage but what many are
finding today is a consumer driven society with its worship of money.
The old ancient customs and beliefs are being kicked to the wayside for
- Millions of Chinese however are now trying to reject the
influence the western world is having on their culture. Many Buddhist,
Taoist, and Confucian temples that have been condemned decades ago by
the government are drawing many tourists willing to explore the ancient
- It was during China’s Cultural Revolution, that many Buddhist
temples were destroyed or defaced. Today, these temples are alive with
worshipers. By some accounts, one out of every five Chinese call
themselves Buddhists. Many scholars believe the search for faith may be
linked to China’s massive environmental problems and the Country’s
- Many in China see their world of capitalism and socialism and
consumerism as a kind of industrial behemoth that is just thundering
ahead, that is draining life out of the villages. That is polluting the
soil and the water and the air, the world in which they live is becoming
a heartless world.
- The single-child policy is believed by many to have created the
most selfish generation in China’s history, because each child has been
brought up as the center of attention for the family. Nothing is too
much to give to them. This played a part in China’s massive economic
rise to world dominance.
- Many in China however believe their country’s new growing
interest in Buddhism may bring some compassion back not only for their
fellow human beings but for the environment and for the growing
endangered species population within the animal kingdom. The majority of
the Chinese grew up believing that beliefs in Buddhism are nothing more
than a superstition. However, many are now rediscovering the rich
traditions associated with Buddhism.
- An area rich in biodiversity that many conservation groups say
is greatly imperiled is Tibet, China. It is home to the headwaters of
the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, quite literally a lifeline to hundreds of
millions of people downstream. Conservation and respect for all living
things has long been an intrinsic part of life there.
- Tibet has seen so much political upheaval and social change,
but Buddhist values have endured. The Buddhists in Tibet believe whether
you are a newborn or an 80-year-old, we should all be protectors of
life because we are all responsible for the life around us.
- What impact will the polluted environment have on the Children
of China? That is a question that many in China are now asking. When a
child sees hundreds and thousands of dead fish floating down rivers and
streams do they become desensitized to their country’s polluted
waterways? Do they just accept pollution as a fact of life?
- It would appear though that the Chinese Government is actively
supporting a traditional culture as a way to lead people back toward a
more environmentally friendly lifestyle. The ancient Chinese culture has
always promoted harmony between humankind and nature and it encouraged
limited consumption and a simple way of life. The average Chinese person
doesn't oppose taking from nature. They oppose the over-exploitation of
nature that is harmful to the environment.
- Many in China see a return to the ancient Buddhist ways as a step toward not only healing the environment but humankind as well.
- But only time will tell …….
- Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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