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The world where I am: "A city up in smoke"

Crop fires in east China are clogging the air with smoke as farmers burn off the remains of the wheat harvest. Bo Ge sent us this report from the city of Xuzhou, in Jiangsu province.

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XUZHOU June 13, 2007 – Today was an unusual day. When I woke up this morning my eyes were watering. My throat was dry and sore, and I smelt heavy smoke in the air. “They are doing it again,” I murmured. I drew the curtains and was shocked at what I saw: the city looked as if it were up in smoke. The whole city was enveloped in heavy shroud and the air had a strong smell of burning.

I live in Xuzhou, in east China’s Jiangsu province. This time each year the farmers burn wheat stubble in the fields. Today is the fifth day of burning and the most serious day so far. Out in the street, cars are moving slowly with their headlights on because the visibility is only about 10 metres. Some people are wearing masks and you can hear people complaining about it almost everywhere. Doctors were saying on the local news that they are receiving increased numbers of respiratory complaints, and suggested that residents keep their windows shut.

This photograph was taken inside a room in a house in Jiangsu province, and posted on a local internet bulletin board.

The smoke comes from the farmland around the city. In the evenings, the farmers begin to burn the stubble - the stalks of wheat that are left after the harvest -- and the fires last for several hours. But why have they been doing this for so many years? Mainly because it means the farmers don’t have to spend time and labour removing the stub from the fields, and the ashes as an organic fertiliser for the soil. The Chinese central government has issued a prohibition on stubble-burning, but unfortunately both the local government and the farmers have turned a blind eye to it. One farmer, in another city in Jiangsu Province, died after he tried to contain an uncontrolled fire in a field.

Xuzhou is not the only city afflicted by the smoke. China’s capital Beijing has been reported as covered in smoke from neighbouring provinces such as Hebei. Much of northern and central China, including the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Hebei, Shangdong, Shanxi, are polluted with the same smoke. This smoke pollution problem has been a hot topic on some internet bulletin boards (BBS), with many netizens expressing their complaints, suggestions and disappointments. But my concern is simple: I just want to wake up tomorrow morning without watery eyes and a sore throat.

 

Tell us about the world where you are. What’s the environment like where you live? Send us your stories: [email protected]

 

Ge Bo lives in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. He has worked as a middle-school English teacher and works in the Training Department of a European company.

Special thanks to Wang Hui, Philip, vik, evaporate, caiyonghong and满城春色, who contributed information for this report.

Homepage photo by J. Samuel. B. 



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评论 comments

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

令人吃惊!

这太令人吃惊了。什么都能做?

Astonishing!

This is truly astonishing. What can be done?

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

农民

提高农民的环保意识很重要,
感觉如果地方内可以提供更好的处理秸杆的办法,
也许农民们也不会拒绝吧.vik

Farmers

I think it is quite important to improve the farmers' awareness of environment protection. If the local government can offer some better ways to deal with the wheat stubble. I believe farmers will be more than happy to accept it. vik

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

政府干什么了?

这种现象的背后,是政府行为的缺失,是政府的不作为,是一种失职!这样的小事都管理不好,就不要高谈阔论什么“提高行政能力和效率”了!

what is the government doing?

The thing behind this story is government's dereliction of duty! They can not even handle this simple case. How can they boast to "improve capability and efficiency of government"?

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

意料之中的吃惊

这是真的吗?是。。。
年年都有,只是今年更厉害而已

expected surprise

Is this true? YES...this does happen every year, but this year it has been getting worse.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

太浪费了!

秸秆中储存着大量能源,政府应该投入资金研究怎样把这种有机材料转变成清洁能源。保护地球,减少污染,我们和未来的人类都应该呼吸通畅。

what a waste

lots energies stored in the leftover of the crop. government should spend money on how to covert the organic materials into clean energy. Save the erth and reduce polutant. We and the generations that follow deserve to breath easily.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

公民应行动起来,而不是政府

公民应齐心合力,协调此类活动,并防止它们再次发生. 因为政府是不可能解决所有问题的. 因此公民要对自己的行为负更大的责任.

citizen action, not government

Citizens should get together to coordinate responses to such activities and to help prevent them from reoccuring. The government has shown again and again that it is not capable of solving all problems by itself. Consequently citizens need to take on greater responsibility for their actions and those of others.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

谢谢老天,终于结束了

你好,葛博,我是你的老乡。我完全同意你所说的。这也是所有徐州人觉得丢脸的事情。尽管我们当地政府里的官员说过他们会对此负责,但至今没有得到回应。所有注意保护环境的人,应该站在一起来反对这种令人厌恶的行为。

it's over now!thanks god!

hi,Ge!im your hometown fellow.yes,i completely agree what you have said.it is a shame of all our xuzhou citizens.Although the officer from our local government said that they would be responsible for it,we havent got any response.Those who pay close attention to the environment,should stand in a line and against the disgusting deed!

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

实在令人震惊

我建议政府做更多去制止污染。 引进先进技术, 或者采取更多的措施防止污染再发生。

Really astonishing!

I suggest that the government do something to stop the pollution,introducing some advanced machines or taking some measures to prevent it happening again

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

都是真的

我住在徐州:徐州位于中国东部的江苏省,每年的这个时候农民都烧麦秸。今天是今年烧麦秸的第五天也是目前最严重的一天。街道上汽车开着车头灯慢速的行使,因为能见度只有十米左右。路上有人带着口罩,也有人在抱怨烟雾。医生在《徐州新闻》接受采访时说最近因呼吸道疾病来就医的病人增多。医生还建议市民关窗。

That’s all what happen

I live in Xuzhou in east China's Jinagsu Province.

Farmers there usually burn wheat stubble this time every year. Today is the 5th stubble burning day, also the worse in terms of smoke pollution.

Due to the poor visibility of only 10 meters, cars have to move slowly by using headlights.

Pedestrians wear face-masks, some are complaining about the smog.

The Xuzhou News cited doctors as saying that the number of patients with respiratory disease is increasing. Doctors have also suggested the public to close their windows at home.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

呼唤民间组织

这个时候,我觉得民众能做的,是团结起来发出集体的声音,要求有关部门对这样现象的惩处加强执行力。

Calling nongovernmental groups together

Nowadays I reckon what common people can do is to unite sending out a common message demanding strenghtened penalizing branches related to that kind of conditions.
(This comment was translated by Katarzyna Wachowska.)