By: V. Macedo
China. Known to be the second largest country in the world. It is filled with deep and fascinating culture. It is one of the countries that has the most history and is, as a matter of fact, still making history. Unfortunately, China is also very famous for its pollution levels. Data shows that it is the country producing the most greenhouse gases in the world. However, due to our current situation of self-isolation, NASA estimated that China has been producing 30% less carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Although the new coronavirus is known to have been originated in China, causing death and grief, covid-19 is giving our planet time to breathe and try to pull itself back together after centuries of humans destruction. Before all of this happened, children in Beijing were being forced to wear masks to school due to the intense air pollution, a very serious cause of premature death. Contributing to more than 1 million deaths per year, fine particle pollution leads to many respiratory diseases. Sadly, it is predicted that after the new coronavirus is no longer a major threat to the population, pollution will spike again due to factories producing double the amount of their usual emissions of greenhouse gases to compensate for the economic fall.
When someone says “China” I believe the first image that typically pops into many people’s minds is the famous Panda. These giant fluff-balls always find a way onto our computer screens, leading to (approximately) 15 minutes of dumb-struck mesmerization with their cuteness. Not a very productive path, but I think we can all agree that those 15 minutes are worth it. Giant Pandas never stop eating, they are commonly known to eat just bamboo, but they also eat meat. And when they are not eating, Pandas are sleeping. Very sadly however, the Giant Panda population is at risk, there is only an estimated amount of 2,300 Pandas left 1,864 in the wild. They are classified as vulnerable by IUCN : in the next 80 years Climate Change could destroy their natural habitat, the bamboo forests, and this would definitely lead to a catastrophic impact. To take the edge off, this video is a footage of a Giant Panda playing in the snow, recorded at the Toronto Zoo. There. You can see just why they must be protected.
A part of China that fascinates people is the Terracotta Warriors. In 246 B.C., the young emperor Qin Shi Huang Di was known to be the first emperor of the dynasty Qin. Like us, he had no idea of what would become of him after he died. Re-birth? Heaven or hell? The good place? All he knew is that he needed an army. He, as you might have guessed, was obsessed with immortality, and spent a great part of his life searching for it. Evidently, he never suceeded. The emperor decided to build an underground catacomb. It had 4 parts, the first one was filled with 6,000 terracotta soldiers, each of them precisely made. All of them, totally unique, stood together in battle formation, ready for whatever may come. Terracotta is a reddish clay that 700,200 laborers used to make more than 9,000 sculptures. They were all delicate, and each weighed about 100 pounds. The fourth warehouse was empty, which suggests that the artisans were not finished when the emperor died. There were also wild animals and other parts of the society in another vault. The process took what is estimated to be 40 years.
Research found that they were once painted in bright, beautiful colors, but after exposure to air, they lost their tint. What is even more amazing is that each warrior had different expressions, different hairstyles and even different ears. Out of more than 9,000, no two sculptures are alike. Now, I must tell you all something that might sound a bit creepy: emperor Qin murdered all the artisans that made those sculptures. The reason is still unknown but that it just makes it all the more haunting. The final question is: Did these warriors actually helped him in any way in his afterlife? I guess we will never know.