Busy days of post-graduate studies, travel, work and some expert husbanding of pregnant wife have meant there has been no time recently for any Notes From Xi’an. However, with our first child only weeks away my thoughts have turned to two very real concerns that are worth a quick reference: 1. Our child’s little lungs and 2. That it (we still don’t know if it is to be a boy or a girl) could very well soon be speaking better Chinese than me – which is seriously uncool! I never thought my competitive spirit – which has been eternally lacking in relation to my Chinese language studies – would be activated vis-a-vis my own child.
I have decided to tackle my still unborn child head-on. This means no more security blankets of teachers and textbooks, learning this language is now going to be mine to direct and conquer. I have, though, turned to Olle’s excellent “Essential Articles” over at ‘Hacking Chinese‘ to give my solo studies a bit of a boost and some perspective. His great articles have helped me find a sense of proportion between reality and ambition – plus a few sensible study tips to keep me going through the next phase of learning this ****** language. See the screenshot link below.
Secondly, while a few colleagues and I were measuring the daily air pollution levels on the way to work last week (we used the excellent ‘CN Air Quality‘ iphone app), Beijing’s pollution levels were kicking up an even greater storm. There is no need to go over the figures again here; suffice it to say that the maximum danger levels for both particulate matter 2.5 and 10 were comprehensively exceeded. To the right is a screenshot of a great infographic from Greenpeace (click through to the original) that looks at particulate matter and air pollution, and includes a few protective measures- thanks to Hamza for sending me the link. There is also this page from the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which looks in more detail at the ranking bands that make up the air quality index. At the bottom of that page are clear band descriptors for each pollutant within the index, they include Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Ozone, Particles < 2.5µm (PM2.5) and Particles < 10µm (PM10). The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has this comprehensive and informative page on particulate matter that is may be worth checking out.
I am sure I will have plenty more to say on this at some point, especially as my ID studies have now turned to look at Urban Development and Poverty. “Poverty of what?” would be the question that springs to my mind. It seems we can almost pick our poverty these days. There is the traditional kind measured by assets, livelihoods, illness and debt, and there is the “got TV, got the internet, got a smart phone, got a shopping mall across the road, got a bowl of hot noodles in the microwave but can’t breath, can’t cross the road and can’t ride a bike for fear of fast cars and pollution” kind of poverty. And let’s not even think about poverty of time, education, culture, information, choice, rights, trust, security and community. To be continued, I am sure.
My favourite stat. from my studies so far: it took about 10, 000 years for there to be 1 Billion people on the planet (8000BC to 1960 AD) and only another 25 years to get to 2 Billion (1985), 26 years after that (at the end of 2011) the world population dashed passed 7 Billion.
10,000 years to get to 1 Billion, only 51 more years to reach 7 Billion!!
Oh, baby!! (in more ways than one)
Anyone not initiated into the ways of pollution in China, check out this slider by Michael Zhao over at The Atlantic!!! There is also this Note I added at the end of 2011, entitled Xi’an, The Xi’anese, And The Need On Days Like These To Hang Onto Our Joie De Vivre. Good luck out there!