Monday, October 11, 2010

Loving the Pandas and Slaying the Dragons

Moravian College began its InFocus theme on China with a lecture by Rob Gifford. He had recently published a book on China drawing on his years of living there and a six-week journey across the country. He began his lecture by saying there were both “panda-lovers and dragon-slayers” – in other words, that is there are many who praise China and tout its achievements and others who are critical of China, particularly in the areas of human rights and the environment.  Although I have only spent one week here in the Middle Kingdom, it’s pretty easy to see Gifford’s point.  There is, absolutely, much to criticize. And in the realm of climate change, coal would be at the top of the list, contributing 900 million tons of CO2/year and contributing to horrendous smog and air quality. But I am also struck by the friendliness of the people, and their real commitment to reducing their carbon intensity, despite short-term hardships. NGOs here in China note that they are making real headway on their goals. Considering the transformation of China from my first visit in 1983 to present, it may be possible for China to be transformed again into a green economy – and it would be in all of our interests for them to succeed.

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