A More Livable Future

As urbanization and industrialization accelerate in China and across the globe, low carbon development and the concept of sustainability seem to attract more attention than they used to. Human induced global climate change has made it impossible for anyone to deny or even question its existence and seriousness. This summer alone has reset many climatic records. To name only a few: New York City suffered from record high temperature in late July and bashed by unprecedented Hurricane in late August. Chongqing Municipality in China has experienced one of the hottest summers in its history.

Even though Chongqing is known as one of the Chinese furnaces, local residents fans with disbelieve of the sustained high temperature. Local primary schools in Chongqing postponed their fall semester by a full week in order to avoid the heat dome.  Those climatic abnormity and subsequent results hit residents without AC and students who are returning to schools in those cities the most.

During and post Hurricane Irene, most of the public transits in New York City were temporarily stopped. The cancellation of flight and train services left many students returning from summer holiday stuck on the road. Those students do not have enough time to return to their home places given the approaching school year. Equally, it is too expensive to assume, even for a short period of time, the role of an airport resident in any part of the world. In clarification, let me reiterate their situation, many students waved their reluctant goodbyes to the caring ones and boarded various flights to continue their academic journey. At the first stop upon departing their home countries, they were told that all flights to NYC were cancelled. To some, like my poor girlfriend, the odyssey didn’t stop there. Her first stop was in Tokyo and she was being told that her flight to JFK was cancelled. So, there was no way that she could continue her journey. She was also told that she couldn’t stay in Japan, because she did not have a proper visa. As a result, she was put on a flight headed to Chicago. To the Japanese, it’s out of country out of their concerns. However, my poor girlfriend had to detour to Chicago. After spending a night there, she was once again put on another flight to DC.

After two more nights in DC, she was compelled to cancel her flight and she switched her travel plan to Amtrak. Tickets purchased, hotel checked out, and she was once again confronted with transit cancellation. Amtrak was not running due to track damages done by Irene. After spending close to a full week on the road, she finally made it to Bard. However, none of the flight companies offered any compensation as they were obligated to.  

Therefore, the inconvenience and damage done by climate change does not limit to or confine within a physical sphere. Climate change also opens up loopholes for moral and political corruption. It adds on to the list of excuses dummies breathe with.  

(To welcome and direct public criticism towards such poor service, it was Continental who refused to cover the additional costs it imposed on those poor students.)

Climate Change associated misfortunes does not limit on the road. Back in Chongqing, the unprecedented heat dome forces many impoverished local residents to crowd in the hall way and aisles of big malls to avoid the heat at the risk of being beaten by the so-called security-guard (http://www.zgkg.com.cn/minsheng/w10153799.asp).

There were news reports about lives being claimed by the historical high temperature. It goes without saying that local hospitals are packed with heat patients. 

It is the helpless residents in Brooklyn, NY; the crowded aisles in Chongqing; China; the victims of increasing climatic calamities and the lives lost at the climatic abnormity that demands better stewardship of our shared and only home planet—earth. It is no longer a mere political rhetoric, nor is it in the future tense. It’s happening as we speak.  

So why low carbon? Why sustainability?

Unprecedented climatic abnormities do not occur without any reason. The thin air hardly gives birth to a warmer planet without additional heat trapping green house gases. In order to minimize climate change related casualties and economic loss, low carbon development/sustainable development seem to be the only path that shall lead us, and many generations of us yet to come, to a more livable future.       

–by Chad Tupgon

2011-09-14

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