The philosophy of Confucius, a great thinker from China's Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC), has inspired today's meteorologists in reacting to the looming climatic disasters likely brought by global warming.
In his belief in universal harmony, the founder of Confucianism stressed that human's activities in their lives and production should conform to the laws of nature.
Flying across a time span of over 2,500 years, the class Confucian teaching of "the doctrine of the mean" was highlighted again on Sunday's World Meteorological Day.
Zhang Jiacheng, former vice president of the Academy of Meteorology, considered that with the guidance of the Confucian philosophy, human society and the climatic system can reach a sound interactive relation.
According to Zhang, what people were mainly concerned about in the past was how to accommodate themselves to the changing climate. But now they emphasize more the voluntary adjustment of human actions to maintain a suitable climate.
"The changed attitude can be recognized as a new incarnation of the ancient Confucian philosophy of harmonization," Zhang said.
The shortage of water resources and increase of droughts as a result of climate warming might pose the problem of survival again during the development of human society.
In addition to the traditional water saving measures, experts also appeal to strengthen the conservation and regulation of water resources, launch water storage and diversion projects, rationally develop and utilize water resources in the air and intensify research on sea water desalination technologies.
Zhang said that these measures all echo Confucius' ancient maxims and some of them have been put into practice successfully.
After artificially receiving water three times, the Tarim River, China’s longest inland river in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, resumed its full course after drying up for 30 years due to droughts and over-use of its water.
The Dingxi area in northwest China's Gansu Province also produced miracle harvests during successive years of droughts via rainwater collection and drop irrigation technologies.
In recent years, the expansion of cities has led to an increasingly evident "heat island" effect.
Chengde City, located to the north of Beijing, once hit a record high temperature of 43 degrees Celsius despite its reputation as a summer resort. Spain, at the same latitude as Beijing, also saw its highest temperature of 50 degrees. Unusual high temperatures also struck Harbin and London. Experts predict that Beijing will also face the possible threat of high temperatures above 45 degrees.
Zhang Jiacheng said that "If people harmonize urban construction into the ecological system according to the Confucian philosophy, the thermal damage in cities would be greatly reduced."
Zhang illustrated that buildings can be a bit closer to nature if their roofs are covered with vegetation, balconies are dotted with flowers and grasses as well as walls are blanketed with climbing plants.
The urban climate will also turn out to be more pleasant if the city becomes like a green garden.
China's sea level has kept rising at an annual average speed of 2.6 millimeters in the past five decades. Experts pointed out that it is likely to cause the deterioration of the coastal ecological environment, the intrusion of sea water into the off-shore land and more floods.
Since the sea level will continue to rise in the future, professor Ding Yihui, special advisor on climate change with China Meteorological Administration (CMA), urged related domestic departments to strengthen meteorological monitoring, establish an early-warning system and build protection dikes.
However, the most essential prevention measure Ding noted is still based on Confucius' ancient philosophy about development and harmonization.
According to Ding, the slowdown of the sea level's rising will depend on the reduction in the discharge of greenhouse gases, which demands both optimization of energy resources structure and enhancement of their utilization efficiency. It can only be achieved through the joint endeavors of all countries.
The CMA's director Qin Dahe warned that the real danger of climate change is that its influences are often irreversible. Only when the development of human society is harmonized with the climate system, just as Confucius enlightened us, can people shake off the shadow of climatic hazards.
(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2003)