Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pollution Causes Problems for Beijing

After watching WVU beat the Providence Friars yesterday I left the TV on for a bit, and found out a little bit of what is happening in the world of sports. And one of the things I heard was extremely pertinent to any consideration of the environment. The marathon world record holder, Haile Gebrselassie, withdrew his name from participating in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The reason he cited was his health.

China is home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. Gebrselassie suffers from exercise induced asthma, and is concerned for the long term effects that running 26 miles in one of the world's most polluted cities would have on his health. He has gone so far as to suggest a different, less polluted venue in China, but the committee is not moving on their location. This would be a tremendous challenge for a world class athlete, but I admire Gebrselassie for the standards he has set. He values his health more than he values competing in the Olympic games. Participating in the Olympics is a dream never achieved for many, but Gebrselassie is not letting prestige come first.

This may lead to other athletes making a similar stand as well. Think about this. Could you imagine living in a place that is so polluted that it is a health hazard to go for a run? What a wake up call for taking some steps toward environmental care. I think about this problem, and think what will life be like 30 years from now? Will olympic events have to take place indoors? Will kids be able to play outside for extended periods?

When I was little, every once in a while we would go swimming in the Ohio River. But then we started hearing about how dirty and unsafe it was. My dad grew up swimming in the Ohio River, but now you can't even eat fish out of the river more than once per month.

I don't think Gebrselassie is making a stand for the environment, he is simply making a stand for good health. But could you imagine what might happen if more folks like him who are in the spotlight began to make decisions like this? And could you imagine the impact of more every day people like you and I beginning to make changes to our consumption habits? Maybe instead of leading the world in consumption and waste (Americans consume 32 times the amount of the rest of the world), we could lead the world in our green efforts. What steps are you willing to take?

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Pollution in Beijing has reached to its top most extent and lots of people especially kids are suffering from asthma. If cure is not taken now then the case will go out of our hands and will result in lots of deaths.