Tuesday, October 17, 2006

China's student environmental movement

An interesting article on the rise of environmental activism in China from the Grist.

Here are three seperate paragraphs from the article.

Coverage of China's environmental problems by international media has been extensive in recent years. Less widely reported is the valiant work being done quietly across China by as many as 5,000 grassroots environmental organizations that have sprung up over the last decade to clean rivers, plant trees, recycle, and put China on a cleaner path of development. Among these organizations, one can find, as we did, hundreds of university associations and the passionate, energetic students who run them.

These activists are starting from scratch, in a society with little or no popular understanding of citizen involvement in public affairs, with large barriers to citizen involvement, and with unknown dangers of running afoul of government officials. Their activities are limited by their schools' regulations. Nonetheless, to ask them about their motivation for environmental work is to see the universal dedication one finds in environmental activists in countries rich and poor alike. They use words like "duty" and "honor" to refer to their role in protecting China's environment. Doing her best to convey her feelings in English, Pei Yonggang from the China University of Geosciences in Hubei Province told us that "our flame and sense of duty are the causes of our inspiration."

It's hard to overstate the environmental challenges the country faces. The simplest, starkest way to put it may be that in some provinces, double-digit GDP growth is cancelled out each year by the cost of natural capital and human health lost to pollution and environmental degradation. But we have hope. There are almost as many university students in China as in the United States, and these students will soon take a leading role in business and government -- hopefully after having been inspired, like us, by the environmental advocates on Chinese campuses.

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