The toxic haze has become a more and more severe environmental problem in China throughout the past few years. It has become a hot topic and societal issue especially when it began to have a huge negative impact on the economy of Northern China and irreversibly damaged the environment.
Panic spread out among the public and a debate emerged – who should be responsible for the toxic haze. Lead by the public medium, people regard truck drivers as the “perpetrator”. Numerous TV shows and reports showed that a majority of those drivers’ vehicles don’t meet the Vehicle Emission Standards, meaning their exhaust emission are at least 30 times higher than normal vehicles. The facts, however, are much more complicated. First, 50% of truck drivers thought they purchased vehicles that passed the standards. To maximize profit, merchants ignored the related policy and laws and sold the shoddy vehicles to the drivers. Second, the government environmental departments provide favorable policies for transport companies to maintain low price of groceries in Beijing. These policies protect those companies from punishment (Even they use non-eco-friendly vehicles, they don’t get punished or pay the fines). Besides, there are plenty of other factors involved that result in the toxic haze including the energy structure, loose legal supervision system and inefficient economic system. The main issue with the energy structure is not the state-owned enterprise but the resident’s daily usage in rural areas. Using low-quality cores to support their electricity produces 70% of the exhaust emission that cause the toxic haze. Nevertheless, without the technical support and keeping residents informed about environmental protection, it’s impossible to require the residents of rural area to change their behaviors. Based on the complex reality, there are four basic strategies to solve the toxic haze: Technological progress, Economic transformation, Construction of regulations, and Social consciousness awakening.
Considering the factors that listed above, I suggest to start by seeking new sources of energy for rural areas.
For example, solar panels may be one choice. In Australia, many families have their own solar panel system which reduces the demand for traditional sources of electricity. This kind of domestic solar panel is easy to install and work stably. It might not apply easily to the Chinese rural area, at least it can provide a framework or work as the sample for solving the problem. In order to put it in practice, the government would need to promote the process by providing financial support for both enterprises and individuals. In addition, it is hard to persuade people to accept a new life style, and would keeping residents informed about environmental protection require a good “story teller”. You need to tell them the “story” in an acceptable way since they don’t care about the ecosystem or the whole economics system. When my father was working on the cultural restoration project, he faced the awkward situation that residents of rural area didn’t care about the incredible cultural value of their buildings. They just wanted to get rid of the old buildings to make room for new ones. In this case, explaining the benefits is the easiest way. What can they get from the new system? Will they have to pay anything? What economic benefits will they have?
We still have a long way to go to fix the environmental problems. Since we all live in a system, small changes will bring unimaginable impact to the future. Start changing the little things and never lose hope.