This may be a long post, sorry.
I just finished reading an interesting post on my client company’s internal social networking site about some environment cleanup activities some of the company’s Wuhan China employees have been engaged in recently. There actions are interesting for several reasons and inspiring at all levels. A little about what they’ve been doing: Wuhan, China, has nearly 10 million residents and over 160 lakes. Many of the lakes, if not all, are, not surprising, heavily polluted. One of these lakes, near where many of my client company’s employees live is so polluted that it was suffering what is called “severe eutrophication”. This state “caused algae to grow excessively, depleting the water of oxygen needed for many organisms to survive”. Apparently, for several years, the local government has been working to find the root causes of this eutrophication, but has been unable to find the root cause and do anything about it. Of course, I think you’d have to be deluded to think the government was truly working to solve the problem, but that’s another post, I suppose.
So, rather than keep waiting, the local employee/residents took it upon themselves to solve the problem. They worked with experts at the Hubei University of Technology and quickly got to the root causes. I’ll let the client’s post tell the rest of the story (while redacting the client company’s name).
” Working with the university researchers and Wuhan’s lake management office, 262 <company> employees put in 1,048 hours toward solving the puzzle and restoring the lake to good health. They analyzed the water’s nutrient levels and possible sources of pollution, and discovered that the lake had very high phosphorus levels caused by solid waste pollution and the feedstuff that fishermen were using to raise fish in the lake.
Employees also cleared water hyacinth, an invasive aquatic species that deprives the water from oxygen. They picked up trash, released fish into the lake and encouraged fishers to raise ducks—all of which remove excess nutrients and rebuild a sustainable biological chain.
They also educated local residents and community groups about water conservation, with 200 of those residents signing a pledge to protect their environment. Employees will continue to monitor the water quality and work with residents to preserve the lake. While this project was successful in determining the causes and taking actions to lower nutrients to normal levels, the work will continue for years to come. <Company><Business Unit> China hopes to remove the root causes altogether to not only restore this one lake in a very large city, but to rebuild a new, sustainable ecological system—one lake at a time.”
Ok, so what’s so interesting and inspiring? Well, remember this is China. June 4th was just the 25 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, so I find it incredibly powerful to see that today the people of China are so motivated to exercise their own will and take the circumstances of their lives, such as their environment, into their own hands in such big and meaningful ways.
So, why the title of this post “Actions vs. Words”? Clearly these employees/residents of Wuhan were not content to merely listen to the words of their local government and continue to wait while no progress was made to cleanup this lake. They instead took action; definitive, difference-making action.
In this country, there are many today who use lots of words; words bought and paid for by powerful, wealthy and entrenched people and organizations with mis-guided interests in maintaining the status quo – which is undoubtedly the same position taken by government bureaucrats in Chinese government – who are pushing for inaction regarding our local environments. However, as these inspiring, resourceful, caring humans in China demonstrated; simple, direct and committed action can overcome the forces of inaction and make meaningful, lasting and important changes on the ground, or water, or air and overcome those opposed to action. Kudos to the people of Wuhan!