05 March 2014

Where is the Beijing?

JZ writes:*

Yesterday, I had heard a joke about a taxi driver who lives in Beijing said, "if the haze had happened in 1940s, then China wouldn't have been involved in WWII because nobody would clearly see Beijing, let alone attack it." After loud laughing, I thought about "what has happened?" Without any doubt, pollution is the reason of the severe weather, maybe not all of it, but it must be the main factor. And the key part of the pollution is the emitted carbon dioxide and the secondary pollutants from the factory industries.

Who need to response for the polluted surroundings. In the past, development was the most important concern for both the government and the citizens. The government introduced as many heavy industries as they could to help increase the GDP, which can reflect the development level of a particular region, they focused on the rate even ignored the “payment” of development, like pollution. Even though the development is a central to a country, it should not come to a risk of the environment. Without a healthy environment, the development would be futile because we would not even be able to meet our basic needs like the clean water and clear air. For the citizens, people tried to do everything to make life easier. The behaviors like cutting down trees recklessly and driving all the time will pollute the environment, and the degree of damage is far beyond imagination.

Bottom Line: The polluted environment was not the fault of any individual or organization, everybody needs to make up for it. Therefore, everybody needs to do their best to protect the environment and try to restore it. Balancing environment protecting and economic development will be the happiest result for the city even the world.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


  1. In my previous work as an academic writing instructor, I routinely saw writing from international students with similar types of grammatical errors. While grammatical errors are outside the scope of Zetland's class, such errors only make a written piece difficult to understand.

    For example, the title, "Where is the Beijing?" uses "the" without any apparent reason; "Where is Beijing?" would be appropriate here.

    Similarly, word choice is an important part of written communication. The second paragraph opens with, "Who need to response for the polluted surrounding." Here, the words "response" and "surrounding" are unclear.

    First, the author needs to understand the differences between "the surroundings" and "the environment." The two are - in some ways - related, but they are - in other ways - very different. Here, the appropriate word is almost certainly "environment."

    Next, based on the rest of the paragraph, a more appropriate word than "response" would be "responsible." Here, too, there are some ways in which the words are related, but - in this case - the meanings are quite distinct.

    Recognizing this change to "responsible," the phrasing of the question from one of "needing" responsibility to "holding" or "taking" responsibility is also necessary, and based on the context of the rest of the paragraph, I believe it to be more appropriate to use the idea of society holding someone(s) responsible.

    Therefore, with these changes in mind (and correcting the grammar mistakes), we can change this one sentence to:

    "Who needs to be held responsible for the polluted environment?"

    And this is for one sentence. While the general gist of the post is understandable, for it to be better understood, almost every sentence needs revision.

    I could talk about issues of tone, too (i.e., is it better to rewrite that sentence as, "Who should be held responsible..."?) but the topic of tone is one that is tertiary to those of grammar and vocabulary.

    Bottom line: If English is not a language in which you can write well, have someone who can write English well (or edit English well) read your writing first. (The same goes for anyone who is writing in a language that they find difficult, as with me and Spanish and Japanese.)

  2. @Umlud -- Wow. Thank you for helping. It's unfortunate that students did not take the time to make themselves clear.

  3. The writer says"Even though the development is central to a country, it should not come to a risk of the environment." This is totally right, but think about this: Back to 1949 when China was founded, what do we have? Shovels, tractors... China had no other choice instead of sacrificing the environment for development; for example, became the world factory. China used the cheap labour to complete primitive accumulation of capital assets. yes people need clean water and air now, but what people needed 50 years ago were bread, money, cars, weapons..all these stuffs can't grow from land. I believe different periods have different strategies. China got development from sacrificing environment, now it's the time to pay the bills. like Dolan says "Everything has a cost, there is no free lunch." Environment is the opportunity cost.
    However, China shouldn't be the only one that is responsible for environment, also the countries that move the industries there. When we talk about environment, we can't just label it as China, USA, or whatever, it's every countries,everyone's responsibility. There are no countries can survive from the world environment collapse.

  4. <2401>

    Actually the air quality in Beijing is keep getting better base on the total suspended particles(TSP). I think there is a reason that people are thinking the air quality is getting worse is that fewer people are care about the the air pollution in Beijing. Many people are hear from the media without comparing the statistics from ten years ago to now. If we compare with many developed countries, the quality of air in Beijing is still fall behind but Chinese government did try to do many ways to make it better. And these activities we should praise for the government but not blame it everyday.

  5. The pollution in China is due to the urgent for development. However, both the government and development are not ready for the development. Not only Beijing, a lot of main cities in China suffer frm pm 2.5, such as Shanghai and cities in northern China. The GDP of China indeed has goes up. However, it does not means that people are more well-being. For now, if the pollution still increases, the economy in China will be influence negetively. As a result, Chine government should put more effort on the dealing with pollution and the side effects of the development of economy.

  6. <1374>
    indeed,your ideas are similar with my friends. the government of China doesn't really care about the citizens health.They are more focus on GDP and most of the GDP are supported by the large number of high-polluting industries. i recently read a news that the government of china a using the reward system to encourage those industries to self-improve their facility. We will see how this work in the future

  7. Stone Jin said:

    The country development has to be allocated into several steps. The government might take the economic boost on the top, but meanwhile with the respect of environment, the responsibility cannot be lidded on commons only. Without considering about the pollution at the beginning, these industry business were encouraged to rise up productions by the government. The officers have obligations to take care of the environment and health conditions.


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