Climate change and contamination are two extremely important controversial topics not only for the United States and China but for the entire world. In the Ted talk “How China is (and isn’t) fighting pollution and climate change”, Angel Hsu discusses the importance of renewable energy. I believe her purpose is to show the world how much China has improved in such a short amount of time, but to also warn us that there is still so much that has to be done before the effects of climate change sets in. Angel Hsu is a data scientist and a professor, she tries to apply methods primarily driven by data to help find solutions to several environmental issues. She also talks about how if rapid changes are not made, disastrous consequences of climate change may be inevitable. She, by using a bit of humor and important statistics, tries to convey important messages of improvement in China’s switching from using fossil fuels to more greener alternative renewable resources that will last beyond our time and will assist future generations.
While it is important to acknowledge and support improvement when it’s due, I think that Hsu could have done a much better job in addressing what China can improve on yet, and how serious of a threat climate change really is. One issue with the talk that I had, was that she did not talk enough about climate change and global warming and how important it is to address and fix the issue now. She mentions climate change in the title of her talk yet only addresses the topic for a measly few minutes. She does describe the importance of keeping China’s pollution under control as whatever happens weatherwise in China can have a detrimental impact on the rest of world through the harmful effects of climate change. Personally, I believe that climate change and global warming are two huge important topics that must be addressed and acknowledged. Not enough people are educated on the topics, or on how to help the situation, people should know how all of this came about otherwise the same problem can and will resurface in the future.
One of the things she addressed in the talk I really enjoyed was the fact that just one documentary called “Under the Dome” by Chai Jing sparked the fire for change in so many lives. People started to realize that pollution is a real issue that is affecting their daily lives and it wasn’t being properly addressed. Some of the main issues she pointed out were extremely important such as, the shortened lifespan of so many citizens, the visibility in the city due to smog, and how many people were actually admitted to the hospital for the effects of pollution. In fact the hospitalization rate increased by about 140%, most of the admitted were the children and the elderly. (Hsu) She also discussed the fact that, at first, the Chinese government endorsed the documentary but as soon as it had stirred the pot and made people question the way they do things, the government took the video down, but it was too late the damage was already done.
Another issue that I had with the talk was that she should have spoke more about how these are global problems and shown some comparisons to the United States and how they are trying to solve these problems. Even though China is ultimately bigger than the United States, the United States is still a global powerhouse that needs to be, and should be checked as well. It almost begs the question, “Is china doing more to reverse the effects of contamination than the United States?”. A fair amount of people like to think that the United States is better than China in terms of reversing the effects of pollution and making strides in the ways of renewable resources but in fact China has made it a priority to switch over to cleaner means of energy.
China is also providing about 5 times as many green jobs than the United States, with that being said, China is still the leading user of coal and continues to supply and invest into countries in need. This is not only a huge problem because of the negative effects of coal but also because coal is a finite resource that will not last over time, not to mention that there are different types of coal that only perpetuate the problem of pollution. Another factor in this global issue is not getting other huge and important countries on board with the conservation efforts such as India, hopefully with China leading by example other countries will follow in their footsteps.
As I said before, I believe that we should support and acknowledge improvement when necessary but I think that Hsu really could have touched more on not only what more China can do but what the people can do as well. This isn’t some big issue that only the experts can help solve. One more important aspect I wanted to provide is some clarification on this, she references a harmful particle called PM 2.5, this is the abbreviation for Particulate Matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Because of its small diameter it tends to stay in the air longer than heavier molecules. It’s known to worsen certain chronic diseases, this is one of the more dangerous particles that are the result of using the more harmful coal and unregulated factories. China has made great strides in the reduction of concentrations of PM 2.5. Over four years China has been able to cut out about 32% of those concentrations (Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago)
In sum, Angel Hsu does a phenomenal job with addressing and acknowledging all the improvement that China has made in the past couple of years. She inspires each and every one of us to join in the fight against pollution, though she does address all the good things China has done and she did do a good job with talking about the documentary that started it all, Hsu doesn’t really say what China can do next or even what the rest of the world can do to help the environment nor she doesn’t really talk too much about China’s impact of climate change and global warming, which are definitely important enough to touch on.
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