If you saw last year’s film Before the Flood directed by Oscar award winner Leonardo DiCaprio, this climate change documentary likely left you with a strong impression. With the advancement of civilization and technology, Earth’s ecology is being sacrificed for our benefit. In the film, DiCaprio visits a number of countries around the world that have felt the pains of modernization. Unfortunately, his observations at each of his stops all reflect the same conclusion; everyone in the world is connected to the causes and effects of climate change, so we all must work together to fix it.
As a developing country in a period of great economic growth, we Chinese should be proud of ourselves that we have already heeded the appeals advocated by environmentalists, such as Yang Xin, Chai Jing, and even DiCaprio. This is especially important seeing as how industrial development is at the core of this stage of China’s growth. Even for the United States, one of the most advanced countries in the world, environmental policy is a hot-button issue that requires lots of time for making long-term evaluations and plans. The Chinese government and the Chinese people, however, have already started to build the same environmental awareness in a surprisingly short amount of time.
With these opportunities emerging, there is never a lack of brave Chinese entrepreneurs willing to find solutions. From the selling of the popular anti-haze masks on Taobao to brokering the Japanese cancer-fighting water ionizer machine, there are always smart businessmen who know well the health needs of the Chinese people. Yet, some entrepreneurs have already set their sights far down the road, focusing on long-term disease prevention rather than cures, which is not only a ripe business opportunity but an industry that will lead Chinese people to better and greener lives.
Perhaps the whirlwind rise of bike sharing companies Mobike and OFO will cause some to be skeptical of such programs, regarding them as mere fads, but looking deeper into these new types of startups, their rise is not surprising in China. Bike sharing programs first started in Europe and were later adopted in the United States. They gradually spread to Asia, popping up in places such as Japan and Taiwan. In today’s China, bike sharing programs are a perfect solution to a number of problems had by many different groups of people. Bikes succinctly fill the gaps left by other modes of transportation, such as subways, buses, and taxis.
To make bike sharing systems even more intelligent and convenient, Chinese entrepreneurs have integrated smartphone technology, which has been adopted successfully so far. The original idea of how this system operates is pretty simple thanks to the help afforded by technology. Using a mobile app, users can track down the bike nearest to them. After the user rides the bike to their destination, they leave the bike for the next person to use. Without the need to return the bikes to a centralized station, this system naturally circulates the bikes around the given city, so hopeful riders can always be sure to find one close by.
Bike sharing programs offer a way to promote communism in the large gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, because those in China are already open to the ideas of social economics, it may be the reason why bike sharing programs spread so fast there compared to in other countries. Citi Bike in New York, for example, was popular on its streets for a short while in 2013. Yet, because of the weather, unexpected user behaviors, required maintenance, and other factors, Citi Bike has always run a deficit in its operations. Fortunately, by smartly applying technology to the bike sharing industry, Mobike and OFO have avoided such problems, which typically plague European and American markets. The more convenient a system is, the more easily it will be accepted and gain in popularity.
For the few communist countries in the world, economy sharing is still a goal. In today’s China, achieving Mr. Mao’s idea that every resource should be divided equally is difficult. However, small efforts made in any industry, such as those made through bike sharing, are encouraged, especially during times when our planet is threatened. With the haze in China, the acid rain in Belgium, the melting icecaps in the Arctic and Antarctic, and the sinking of the Maldives, people can no longer pretend to be blind to all these environmental changes. In Before the Flood, DiCaprio reveals this neglect of environmental deterioration in American capitalist society, so when these green industries appear in the Chinese market, we should feel relieved and support it with all our hearts. No matter how other countries look at this issue, every small step that we Chinese take makes a difference.