Massive social reform needed to cure smog

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/4 22:58:40

The long-lasting severe smog has become the most heated topic among residents in northern China. Pollution now is the biggest irritant as Chinese society heads toward modernization.

Beijing is the capital of China as well as the center of public opinion. Beijing was stricken by heavy smog before and after the New Year holiday, aggravating public anxieties. Images of smog-engulfed Chinese cities circulated on the Internet and netizens vented their anger toward the persistent air pollution.

The smog in northern China this year is indeed severe. Air pollution is caused by human-related activities, and it becomes smog when it is exacerbated by prevailing meteorological conditions. Now it has come to the point where people feel really unnerved by it. In theory, it could be tackled.

The whole of society is a community of common interests in this regard. The government has paid particular attention to the damage caused by smog and vowed to curb air pollution. It is unlikely that a smog-hit city will adopt policies that only aim to enhance GDP. Ensuring blue sky has become highlighted in the policymaking of each metropolis.

Curbing smog is more difficult than we initially imagined. It cannot be realized simply through government resolutions and tough measures. The blue sky during the APEC meeting in 2014 could be seen again, but we cannot always make it come at the expense of the enormous economic and social costs.

Most people do not want to sacrifice modern life and economic growth in exchange for clean air. The whole of society must reach a consensus that tackling smog needs everyone's efforts rather than simply relying on authorities and enterprises. It is understandable that many people point their fingers at the government to vent their complaints, but it does little to solve real problems.

The government should enhance law-making and law-enforcement regarding environmental protection and guide industrial upgrades. The public should also support low-carbon industries and dedicate themselves to a low-carbon life.

Anxieties are normal emotions, but we advocate collective calmness and cool heads when confronted with the smog. We aim for maximized interests of the majority of Chinese on our path to economic and social development. We may go in the wrong direction sometimes, but we always have the initiative to adjust policies.

China's phase of massive infrastructure building has not ended. Meanwhile, the extensive consumption of carbon in the country's central and eastern areas has been rising fast. These constitute macro reasons for the heavy smog. To cope with these issues requires a capable government and active involvement of the public. However, China has yet to improve in these two aspects.

The smog will not fade soon, but it is curable. The public should urge the government to work on it and at the same time take due actions. Behind the smog are entangled interests. Curbing pollution is a massive social reform in the wake of environmental protection, to which we should devote ourselves.

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