Yesterday was the Earth Day. For some reason, Beijing city government decided to invite students from The British School of Beijing to talk about their views on the environment. As the writer of the class, May was asked to write a piece. See below. At the government office, a classmate of May read out her essay in English and May read out the Chinese version, translated by her Chinese teacher. I thought she did an excellent job.
Earth day speech
By May MacLeod
The renowned ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Zi once said in the Dao De Jing that ‘Mastery of the world is achieved by letting things take their natural course. If you interfere with the way of Nature, you can never master the world.’ From this quote we can see that the Chinese recognised the environment’s importance thousands of years ago. Contrastingly, Chairman Mao once proclaimed in 1940 that ‘man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature.’ Seventy-four years on, and the country still embraces this ethic; to abuse its earth, and has forgotten the guidance of its ancestors. The students of The British School of Beijing understand why this is happening and propose solutions for it.
The World Wildlife Foundation estimates that by 2025, China will be the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases. Diseases related to air pollution are the leading cause of death in China, 75%of energy production is still dependant on coal and a quarter of all critically endangered animals can be found here. There are many other examples of the issues China faces, but we did not come here today to criticise, but to improve. Young foreigners in Beijing such as I, are shocked by what the statistics show, and are eager to see change happen for the better. The work the Chinese government has put in to hydro-electricity and other sustainable resources is admirable; however, critical progress has to be made in the advancement of the mindset of people in regards to nature and the environment.
Britain itself had a time of great environmental turmoil in the 18th century. The coal dust was so severe it coated trees and buildings. One of the major advancements in solving the issue was raising awareness through education. Such an instalment would be highly beneficial in China, as progress must come from the bottom as well as the top. Children should be encouraged in schools to seek green lifestyles and living spaces, by having things such as recycling bins in the classroom and doing geographical field trips to polluted zones. Young people should also be encouraged to learn about the nature around them, by growing gardens, taking urban walks and bird and animal watching. Advertising could be invested in to demonstrate the consequences of people’s actions and promote and exemplify how the Earth can be saved. Cars are something all Chinese people aspire to, however if this ideal was weakened and cycling was encouraged then it would not only be more convenient to the public but more environmentally friendly. Road safety could be campaigned so that walking is safer for pedestrians to further reduce car use. There are unlimited possibilities on the path of awareness, and immediate action would result in positive results.
Let us make this year’s Earth day one to remember, make 2014 a year of great change and advancement, propelling the world into a more sustainable future. Everyone needs to learn that a single person can make a difference, that the world belongs to us all and it is our duty to protect and cherish it, giving each and every one of us a responsibility to uphold. Thank you for your kind attention.