A lady and her love for the planet

Updated: 2011-08-12 08:05

By OP Rana (China Daily)

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A lady and her love for the planet

This is a column wrought with grief. My colleague, Li Xing, who had been pouring her heart out in her contributions on Fridays, was snatched from us by death, suddenly and prematurely. Hers was a life and journalism of conviction and integrity not many in today's world of self-centeredness can claim.

Li Xing was an optimist, her faith in humanity was immense and her belief in the goodness of human beings exemplary. Our friendship, despite the arguments we had, was based among other things on our love for the environment. It is because of her passion for the environment that she lamented the sorry state we humans have pushed the planet into.

The day we received the heartbreaking news of Li Xing's death from across the Atlantic in Washington DC, came the news the polar ice cap in the Russian sector of the Arctic has shrunk to a historical low. The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute said the current ice cover in the Arctic Ocean is 6,850 million square km, which is way below normal. The melting of Arctic ice will make navigation without ice-breakers possible at least until September. This could be a boon for the navigation industry and oil-hungry companies, but it will also push us further toward the abyss of doom caused by climate change.

In one of her dispatches from the Cancun Climate Change Conference in Mexico in December last year, Li Xing wrote: "We must take seriously the new data scientists have shared with us here in Cancun. The World Meteorology Organization reported that 2010 has been among the three warmest years since 1850 glaciers from the Himalayas to Alaska to the southernmost portion of South America are receding, and the amount of ice available to reflect sunshine and keep our earth cool is shrinking The extreme weather around the world will only get worse if we don't begin drastic coordinated global actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut our reliance on fossil fuels. We must stop dragging our feet."

We are still dragging our feet, obsessed as we are with the financial crisis now gripping the US and much of Europe and forgetting, in the process, the impact of global warming will be thousands of times, if not more, devastating.

Money, or rather greed, has become the driving force throughout the world. The value of life, too, is measured in terms of money, not in terms of relations and righteousness. To keep the few rich and powerful happy, we are sacrificing the lives of millions of poor and helpless people who are the real cogs in the wheels of the planet we call home.

No wonder, Li Xing used to bemoan: Why are we humans so obsessed with only personal benefits? Aren't we all mortals? Won't we all return to dust?

Li Xing is no longer with us, her spirit and message nevertheless will continue to resonate among those who knew her and help them become better citizens and fellow human beings. In her own way, through her contributions to society, the profession of journalism and the betterment of the environment she has made many realize the importance of a healthy and green world.

It is in this context that hers has been a life well and meaningfully lived. And hopefully, it will inspire others, especially the young, to follow in her footsteps and make this world a better, healthier and happier place for all to live.

Here's to you, Li Xing, and here's to your passion: the environment.

The author is a senior editor with China Daily. Email: oprana@hotmail.com

(China Daily 08/12/2011 page8)