Pollution in China

I could write so much about this.  We all know that it is a major problem in that vast country.  Having just returned from China, I can make some comments on the situation. There are many aspects of pollution in that country which do not appear to be addressed by the various governments.  My Chinese friends comment on the problems in their country and also talk about what can be done.  Essentially my friends don't have any idea what can be done - because the Chinese people do not want to make any changes.

For this article, I will comment on Air Pollution and Rubbish Management in particular.

The guy who married my friend came to Australia for the first time.  He didn't want to leave.  He kept saying that Australia was so clean.  The roads, the parks - anywhere we went there was little or no rubbish. Even I was impressed!  One night I took my visitors down a quiet street, turned the car lights off and asked them to get out of the car and look up.   Mr. J held his arms up to the sky and walked around as if in a trance. It was the first time in his 32 years that he had seen stars.  It nearly made me cry.  He was so excited!

Not only is the sky full of pollution over there but the lighting from all the streets and buildings make it difficult to see the stars, even if there is a rare clear night.

It was Spring Festival/Lunar New Year/Year of the Monkey celebrations and fireworks were set off regularly.  I recall as the plane approached Hangzhou Airport on my arrival I could see below, the "puff" of light from the hundreds of fireworks being set off in celebration.  The fireworks and the accompanying smoke started at 4 am and would continue until 10 pm - almost every day.

At this time of year, it is also wedding season, and as I learned, fireworks are set off around ten times for the wedding ceremony. Not only is the sky filled with smoke from the fireworks, but the litter from the fireworks is scattered around the ground.  When walking I saw many cardboard discs - and initially, I was curious as to what they were, but later learned that it was all from the fireworks.  Large boxes, all filled with fireworks are used and must have about 12 rockets or similar in them, and each of these 12 leave the disc in the vicinity.

The fireworks are set off usually by a group of men - most smoking cigarettes.  Oh, the cigarettes.  And the smoke I have had to endure!

It appears that most men are addicted to cigarettes.  Need I say more?  What is it doing to the environment?  And their lungs and the lungs of those who are around them?

On many of the events, I attended, men smoked at the meal table, and the host would go around and generously give the men another packet of cigarettes.  They were offered to me too - but I refused of course.

Rubbish is a big issue.  There is so much and it is everywhere. While many of the main roads have people cleaning up all day, and the roads generally do look clean, but look in the bushes, look in the side street, the look around housing.  It is everywhere.  My friends shrug their shoulders and see it as hopeless as the Chinese do not like making changes.

Rubbish in waterway in Shaoxing
The rubbish in waterways is horrific.  Huge pieces of plastic and other items - plenty of food and other wrappings.  

Around homes, rubbish is everywhere.  It is dropped anywhere, any time.  
Rubbish in a waterway near a residential complex.

I stayed in a huge accommodation complex. The rooms were reasonably modern, and with great mod cons.  On the ground floor (the buildings were 32 stories high) rubbish was left.  I might add that the public areas of the complex were awful.  Peeling paints, damage everywhere, the elevator which worked well was dirty with holes in the floor etc.  Maintenance appears to be an issue.

My friends laugh about how I got my bearings.  My entry point was between the "abandoned lounge suite and the broken window". Which is MY points as it was not easy to find differences.   The rubbish on the ground around the "back" of the building was amazing.  It had clearly been there for some time.  I did plan to take a photo, but in some ways glad I didn't.  The piles of rubbish included furniture, broken windows (frames included) old toilets, cardboard, builders' rubbish and so on.  The piles would be around 4 feet high, and six to 10 feet wide.  Some buildings were not so bad, others were worse.  Also, near the gate was an old truck - clearly abandoned some time ago.  Months at least, maybe a year or so.  Clearly deteriorating and just sitting rotting.

In the village - rubbish piles up and spills out onto the paths - which cars drive through and people walk in.  Makes me sick.  And my Chinese friends would point to it and say "smelly" or something similar.

My friends tell me that no one wants to change.  

So along with the many factories that spill out continuous smoke, the power stations billowing smoke, the fireworks and fires, cigarettes, and piles of rubbish they have a long way to go to make China clean.