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Students deliver heartfelt speeches to encourage action on pollution

By Hao Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-04-26 08:21

The China Youth Environmental Forum debuted last Saturday in Beijing to promote environmental education among the country's youth with the aim of encouraging them to learn more about the world and take part in a long-term endeavor to improve current global conditions.

Over 20 students from 16 primary, middle and high schools from the Chinese capital, five provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions delivered speeches on topics covering sustainable lifestyle habits, innovative ideas and environmental protection campaigns.

Zheng Bozhong, one of the speakers and a junior from the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing, talked about how air pollution has hindered his running.

"Pollution and other environmental problems have acted violently upon people's daily lives. And that is exactly why climate action is listed as a sustainable development goal by the United Nations," said the 15-year-old.

Zheng said teenagers could make major contributions to environmental protection, citing Boyan Slat as an example.

In 2013, Slat, at the time 19 years old, unveiled a project to create an ocean cleanup array that could remove 7.25 million metric tons of plastic waste from the world's oceans.

The device consists of an anchored network of floating booms and platforms. Instead of moving through the ocean, the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel.

After Boyan quit college in 2013, he set up The Ocean Cleanup, which attracted 100 employees across the world, including 70 scientists, experts and engineers. Most of them are volunteers.

With a yearlong effort, the group issued a 528-page-long report to prove the project's feasibility. Zheng said Boyan's project will not only protect the ocean's animals, but also "protect the last consciousness of environmental protection in out heart".

Wu Haiyi, a sixth-grader from Wan Quan Primary School in Beijing, said using renewable energies is "a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels that can help us make a better world, because they have no negative impact on the environment".

Wu said the commission on sustainable development could work with the United Nations Environment Program to provide suggestions to countries, set up investigation groups and establish a partnership mechanism to reach balance between developed and developing countries.

Wu said she is doing her part to contribute to environmental protection on a daily basis.

"When I go out for a meal, I will bring my cloth bag, stainless steel chopsticks and a vacuum cup instead of using plastic bags, disposable chopsticks and cups in the restaurant," Wu said.

She also donates old clothes, books and toys to children in need. "We are all part of a family, which has 7 billion people and over 30 million species. We share the same air, water and soil, and borders can never change that," she said.

In their speech, Zeng Shulan, 14, Feng Kehao, 14, and Huang Yueliang, 13, from the Liuzhou No 12 Middle School, compared Liuzhou's current conditions to 20 years ago to highlight the importance of environmental protection.

Liuzhou is famed for its natural beauty in China, but the city in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has had a high incidence of acid rain for more than a decade. The lowest pH value of rain in the region was lower than 4.0, akin to vinegar.

"A great number of smoke stacks were set up all over the city, with clouds of black smoke directly emitted to the air. There were also nearly 50 drainage channels extending into Liujiang River and discharging industrial sewage," they said. Actions to improve air quality and promote the use of clean energies started in 1996. The region improved the industrial layout, closed down heavy polluted industries and aided local companies in preventing and treating pollution.

Guangxi is home to many ethnic groups. Huang, who is from the Dong ethnic group, said environmental protection is also crucial to protecting the traditional Dong culture, such as their iconic costumes that are dyed by using a natural plant to extract indigo.

The Zhuang people have also used natural dyes for generations. The embroidered ball, a symbol of love in the Zhuang ethnic group, is an example of their dyeing methods.

"Our beautiful planet is unique, but it's fragile, we can not take from it without any limit. As teenagers, our actions may have a negligible impact, but if they can influence the people around us, that would result in a great change to our world," the group said.

Students deliver heartfelt speeches to encourage action on pollution

(China Daily 04/26/2016 page22)

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