Chinese Version Preface by Zhou Jinfeng: The Cry of the Awakening – From “The Limits to Growth” to “Come On!”, Trying to Wake Up More People (I)
2020/9/22 18:52:00 本站

On October 25, 2018, three members of the Club of Rome gathered at Peking University to jointly hold a new book launch for the Chinese translation version of the international think tank the Club of Rome’s latest report “Come On!”. The following is the preface penned by Dr. Zhou Jinfeng, the Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) for the Chinese version of "Come On!".


People who wake up early are sometimes more painful. Just as the Club of Rome published the book "The Limits to Growth" in the 1970s, its main author, Professor J?rgen Randers, a member of the Club of Rome, realized the potential problems in the economic development and growth model of that era, and these problems will bring a major crisis to the earth's ecological environment and the future survival of mankind, so he wrote his vision of the future into the book in an attempt to awaken more people.


The book "The Limits to Growth" has not only become the cornerstone of the promotion of global sustainability awareness, but its ideas eventually led to the advent of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In September 2015, the 193 members of the United Nations unanimously adopted the "2030 Agenda", committing all people and institutions to work together to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection.


Wise man thinks, with plans and plans beforehand; broad-minded man plans, all with foresight. I feel very fortunate that when I was still studying at Peking University, I was fortunate enough to read "The Limits to Growth", the first report from the Club of Rome. At that time, China was in a period of comprehensive economic development, and Western developed countries were also intoxicated by the "golden age" of high growth and high consumption. In the eyes of people at the time, would there be a limit to growth? No, of course not. Yes, we were all indulged in the tremendous changes brought about by rapid economic development. But what will happen in the future?


Since the 1980s, the earth has entered an "overdraft mode." Every year, the date when humans consume the earth's resources that can be regenerated naturally throughout the year becomes earlier and earlier. Taking 2018 as an example, the "Earth Overshoot Day" of this year has been advanced to August 1, which is the earliest record of reaching this node in history. In other words, as of this day, people have used up the earth's renewable natural resources in this year and will begin an ecological "overshoot" life from now on.


Time flies. Looking back now, nearly 50 years have passed since the first publication of The Limits to Growth. Many of the statements mentioned in the book that were considered shocking and unbelievable at the time are evolving into reality one by one. For example, population issues, food issues, resource issues, and environmental pollution issues...These have also become major issues that scholars and experts from all over the world have enthusiastically discussed and studied in depth. They have become the most important challenges that governments and people around the world cannot ignore and need to solve.


The opinions in the book deeply influenced me and made me fortunate to be a member of the awakened. Many years later, I left school, started my own business, and later served as a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). On the recommendation of my friend Maurice F. Strong (former UN Deputy Secretary-General) and the invitation of Martin Lees, (former Secretary-General of the Club of Rome), participated in a seminar organized by the Club of Rome in Vienna. I remember that the President of Austria also attended this meeting. Although 15 years have passed, the free, enthusiastic, forward-looking and future-oriented atmosphere of the seminar still permeates me. The open and pragmatic attitude of the members of the Club of Rome towards China's population policy and afforestation strategy also shocked me at the time. It can be said that the charm of the word "knowledge" was vividly displayed in them.


Later, after I ended my ten-year term in the National Association of Vocational Education of China, at the invitation of Mr. Hu Deping, Chairman of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), I formally served as the Secretary-General of the Foundation and began to practice a brand new commitment to biodiversity conservation, eco-environmental protection, sustainable development this lofty career. Since then, my connection with the Club of Rome has become closer, and many of the concepts and practices of the Club of Rome, including "The Limit to Growth", have entered my field of thinking more deeply. I was also honored to be admitted as a full member of the Club of Rome.


At present, with China's continuous efforts in the field of ecological and environmental protection and its deep participation in global ecological governance, the Club of Rome has continuously strengthened and promoted its attention and research on China's ecological civilization construction, the green "Belt and Road", and the community with a shared future for mankind. What impact will China's environmental protection concept and development path have on the future? This is also the concern of the Club of Rome. Professor J?rgen Randers was invited by the Development Research Center of the State Council of China to give speeches at the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) annual meeting in 2017 and China Development Forum in 2018. The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) where I work has also invited two members of the Club of Rome Professor J?rgen Randers and Mr. Gunter Pauli to give lectures at Peking University. During this period, Professor Randers and I were also honored to be employed as guest researchers at Peking University. It is also very worth mentioning that in July 2018, the Club of Rome China Chapter was approved to be established, with Professor J?rgen Randers as the director, and I was also honored as the Secretary-General. This series of experiences also reflects the historical transformation of China's approach to the world and the world's closer approach to China and understanding of China from the side.


If "The Limits to Growth" awakened me for the first time, then Mr. Maurice Strong who witnessed and participated in the whole process of China’s first entry into the international environment field awakened me for the second time and brought me to a deeper level of thinking. After that, every time I was "awakened", it became more and more profound.


Along with being "awakened" again and again, and my work, study, and thinking in the field of ecological and environmental protection continue to deepen, many times, I cannot avoid the story of Easter Island.


The huge stone statues standing on Easter Island shocked the whole world when they were discovered. It was considered to be the result of the highly developed civilization. Now it should be said that heritage is more appropriate. The glorious civilization on this island has been dying out following the overexploitation and unrestrained use of resources on the island by humans at that time. It's a pity, and sigh. Now let’s think about it again. Before the civilization on the island dies, there should be no shortage of wise men who wake up early and have issued warnings, persuasion and crying to the residents of the island. It is a pity that their shouts were not taken seriously, and the people on the island indulged in the temporary prosperity of unsustainable development. Perhaps, in the moment before their demise, they had awakened, but it was too late and it was irretrievable.


So now, are we on the road that Easter Island once walked? I want to answer yes. If mankind continues to go like this, the footprints left to the world to prove its existence will not be statues, but a large number of animal fossils, plastic garbage and reinforced concrete.


We can make a vivid metaphor. If we condense the 4.5 billion years of the earth’s history into an ordinary day, then life started very early. The first simplest single-celled organisms appeared at about 4 o'clock in the morning, but in the next 16 hours not much progress has been made. Just after 11 o'clock in the evening, the dinosaur stepped on the stage slowly, dominating the world for about three quarters of an hour. Twenty minutes before midnight, they disappeared, and the era of mammals began. Humans appeared 1 minute and 17 seconds before midnight. According to this ratio, all our recorded history is only a few seconds long, and a person's life is only an instant. Can humans survive "10 minutes"? Today, when the sixth mass extinction has come, I don’t think I can nor dare to answer this question.


But what I can answer for sure is that many lives will disappear in our lifetime. Take pangolins, for example, my organization has been working on pangolin protection. In a short period of 30 years, eight pangolin species in the world have become endangered species, especially the Chinese pangolin population is more critical. This timid, nocturnal, and termite-feeding animal will not interfere with or threaten human life. However, under the appetite of human beings and the recognition of the medicinal value of pangolin scales, they have been hunted in large numbers. We set 2018 as a counting year for pangolins to count how many pangolins are still in China, and how many pangolins are smuggled, illegally trafficked, eaten and consumed for medicinal purposes... The road is long, we are insisting.

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By / Maggie