About a month ago I spent a week in China attending to my day job as an engineer/ consultant/ specialist/ jack-of-many-trades, and really only got a day to myself. This time the trip is two weeks long and several of the days we are spending traveling all around the country to make meetings in many cities. Last trip my first Chinese city was Beijing, notable for its opaque and slightly yellow air. I thought it was just the cities that are polluted.

Fast forward three weeks…. Don’t get me wrong, every city seems hazy with smog. But I’ll be damned if the air in even remote areas between cities isn’t also fairly disgusting. I know this because we took several trips on the trains between large cities; for instance between Wuhan and Beijing we got to witness remote haze and pollution at 200 miles per hour on the high speed rail.

From The Bullet Train, August 2015

From The Bullet Train, August 2015

What’s also interesting is the construction all over the countryside. From the train, through the dense smog one can find banks of residential apartment buildings being constructed seemingly in the middle of no where. And with no infrastructure, no major roads, nothing. Just buildings for the future. I guess planning for need is what communists do.

Smog Near Xhangxhu China, August 2015

Smog Near Xhangxhu China, August 2015

The biggest thing I noticed through the man-made fog was the stark difference between the European countryside and the Chinese. Clearly China doesn’t give a damn about pollution and such things — the culture as a whole seems intent on just getting by, and letting the communists plan tell them what to do. From my job I know China is changing its environmental awareness and regulation, but by-and-largein the past it didn’t care. There are no Priuses here, no hybrids, no solar panels (except where it’s politically expedient), and there are absolutely no wind turbines standing in the countryside. It’s a strange absence since they seem so common even in the US. And I sort of admire the Chinese for their absence.

Last night I had a great conversation with a native guy about China’s future and the eventual death of communism. I always thought of the country as if its citizens bought into the politics, but of course I was wrong; the Chinese don’t think communism will last forever, either. That was nice to hear.