Chasing Mirages

Don’t Mess with Sichuan

by on Dec.08, 2010, under Posts

I thought you might appreciate the irony in the picture below.  This trashed sign, lying amidst various pieces of litter on the side of a highway running along the still-mighty ( not for much longer, thanks to a series of 22 dams currently being built or planned) Dadu River (大渡河), reads   : Please care for the flowers and grass, littering is strictly prohibited (请爱护花草,严禁乱扔垃圾).

Here’s another angle, showing a particularly disgusting piece of litter :

…a shit-filled disposable diaper.

Stay classy, highway travelers of Sichuan, stay classy.

Even better, across the river from the trashed sign stands a chemical plant.  How many pollution emission points are visible in this photo (click on the photo and then click on it again to see full-size image)?

I count three: the smokestack, the light-colored fluid trickle on the left, and the broader fluid trickle to the right of the building.

From the color of the effluent in the closer-up picture below, I would guess that the factory either has minimal waste water processing equipment or, as the common practice goes, operates such equipment only when it receives word that environmental inspectors are on their way.

Yesterday was the last day of the trip.  I saw a lot, learned a lot, and got to know some amazing people.  Special thanks to Green Earth Volunteers for organizing the trip and providing inspiration to myself and so many others.

I am now at my favorite hostel in Chengdu, so all of you can sleep soundly now, knowing that I am safe and sound, away from the landslides, unpaved roads, bottomless ravines, dirty cops and corrupt officials that have been threatening my survival for the last two weeks.

Those of you who know me know that I’ve never been an optimist, but now more than ever before, I see that the situation is hopeless. China is “developing” its western regions at a breakneck pace.  Unfortunately, “development” means short-term (five-year horizon) GDP growth with almost  no regard for the environment, ecosystems, local residents, or the long-term survival of the country or the human species.

Win or lose, we must act now.  If we do nothing, all is certainly lost.  If we act, we are also screwed, but at least we can say we tried.

Better to fight for something than live for nothing.
-General George S. Patton

More posts to come from the trip, including a few initial insights into how we can act.  Just wanted to let all 3 of you dear readers know that I am well!

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Lovelycozy


    (and hiiii!! I like how we’re blog commenting buddies!!!)

  • DL

    nothing surprising yet still very disturbing…

  • ls

    Now you have one more reader.

    If I haven’t met post 80’s like you, I’d rate the situation we saw as hopeless & helpless that beyond anyone’s ability, regardless saint or evil. You guys (there should be girls out somewhere) are the hope I see that can make a difference, – if multiplied by millions.

    So, for this reason, I’d hold on my hope though the Tibetan antelope already told us: hope is a whore. So what? At least I chose to believe.

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