Balancing air quality and use of fireworks

By Wang Yiqing
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, February 5, 2016
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In a recent survey conducted by the Shanghai bureau of statistics, 89.4 percent of the 2,509 respondents supported legislation to ban fireworks and firecrackers within the outer ring road. And local surveys in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province, show that more than 50 percent people prefer not to spend money on fireworks this year, with over 80 percent supporting a move to reduce the setting off of fireworks for better air quality.

But tradition still prevails in rural areas, for people believe that setting off fireworks and firecrackers is the best way to drive away evil spirits and seek the blessings of heaven. Many Chinese people who live and work in cities follow the tradition when they return rural home for Spring Festival, because it is a strong symbol of family reunion.

Conflicts between tradition and the demands of modern life do lead to social transition. Severe air pollution, and the resultant smog, harms human health, and should lead to social transition. But tradition still influences the activities of a large number of Chinese people. This means people usually take a long time to see reason and give up traditions and customs that can be harmful in modern society. Given this fact, society, especially the authorities, should make efforts to accelerate the transition process. Legislation, which some local authorities have already resorted to, is a good way to regulate people's behaviors. Also, because an increasing number of people are becoming aware of the health hazards of air pollution, it is easier to promote regulations and bans on fireworks.

Moreover, advanced technology should be employed to help reduce air pollution, and strike a balance between enjoying a relatively healthy air quality and indulging in traditional practices. Some political advisors in Shaanxi province suggest replacing traditional fireworks with electronic ones, for they will reduce air pollution while allowing people to enjoy Spring Festival with all the traditional trappings. Such a suggestion is worth giving a try, perhaps with some changes.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

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