A Chinese Farmer Fights Back

This is from China Daily:

Every day before sunrise, Zhang Zhengxiang leaves home to walk along Dianchi Lake, one of the major attractions in Yunnan province.

The 62-year-old retired farmer carries a camera, tripod and telescope to record the pollution encroaching on the country’s sixth-largest freshwater lake.

During weekends, Zhang collates his observations and sends letters to the local government, informing them of the growing pollution.

He has been doing this for 30 years.

Sounds good to me. Like my self-experimentation, he is (a) trying to change something he cares a lot about and knows a lot about and (b) slowly collecting data. In contrast to a great deal of American good works, such as Jeffrey Sachs’s.

In this case, unlike a lot of philanthropy, we know how the story ends:

His efforts slowly began to pay off.

In 1998, the local government shut down six mines near Dianchi because of his warnings.

In 2003, 56 large and medium-sized mines, chemical factories, and fertilizer and lime plants were closed.

Since 2008, the local government has invested about 12 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) to clean up the lake. . . .

[In 2005], Zhang was selected as one of 10 outstanding grassroots environmental activists. In 2007, he became a member of the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences.

Last year, he was selected as one of the 20 people who have warmed Chinese hearts.

This supports what Jane Jacobs told an interviewer: “It’s a funny thing. You can only change something if you love it.”

One Reply to “A Chinese Farmer Fights Back”

  1. “one of the 20 people who have warmed Chinese hearts” What a wonderful expression. I wonder who US citizens would choose for that honor.

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