The Foundation Sponsors the "National Youth Photography Competition for the Promotion of Environmental Protection"

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Live interview with Ms. Li by TOM.COM reporter

TOM reporter: You were with a State environmental protection unit before. Why did you leave to pursue your current work in environmental education?
Ms. Li: I was indeed with a State environmental protection unit before, but in the medical research arm. I specialized in biochemistry in school and pursued the study of immunobiology overseas. Upon returning to China, I continued my immunobiology research at a university in Beijing. But in my research, I realized that researchers are one of the culprits in pollution, and that Beijing is a severely polluted city. It is ironic that my line of work is supposed to elevate the health of our society. I realized that nothing can insure against diseases if our environment is being polluted. While I felt that I was suited to research work - after all, I've been in the field for 10 years, but after much painful deliberation, I decided that it'll not do. The worsening of our environment is extremely dangerous for our entire population. That was what inspired me to change fields.

TOM reporter: What is your main line of work now?
Ms. Li: I've been in environmental education since 1996. I spread the word about environmental issues to all levels of society.

TOM reporter: Are you satisfied with the progress of our country's environmental work?
Ms. Li: I can't say I'm satisfied and I can't say it's bad. I'm more familiar with the situation in Beijing. I feel that Beijing's environment is changing for the better; the air quality has improved. But while pollution on the surface has lessened, the pollution problems that we don't see every day is worsening, which is worrying.

TOM reporter: What's your take on our National Youth Competition for the Promotion of Environmental Protection?
Ms. Li: I heard about this competition a few months ago as our contact with schools is quite frequent, so we also participated. Mainly we contacted different schools to solicit entries. The response from schools was, are there more application forms? The children are very enthusiastic. I came to see the photos and to understand how our youths are doing. First, the fact that the children come from all over China suggests their concern for this matter. Second, their photos reflect their unique perspectives and really get to the heart of the problem. Listening to what they have to say also gave me hope. They are responsible and compassionate children who have come to communicate this message to the entire society through their standpoint.



Live interview with Sarah Liu by TOM.COM reporter

TOM reporter: For how many years have you been involved in environmental work?
Dr. Liu: About 28 years.

TOM reporter: In these 28 years, what line of work did you pursue?
Dr. Liu: I started with research in air pollution, because I specialized in chemistry at the time, environmental chemistry. Air pollution was a severe problem in the western countries at that time. For example, the London fog has led to the deaths of many elderly people there. Also, air pollution in Los Angeles is a few times above the national standard. But we in the east were still ignorant of the problem of air pollution then. It evolved to become a hazard to people's health. At the time I was a professor at Hong Kong University. Then in 1988 I set up a consultancy company. For example, the Hong Kong SAR government would consult with us on a the topic of air pollution in the Zhujiang Triangle and we would have to propose a solution.

TOM reporter: What are your views on the environmental work undertaken by our country in recent times?
Dr. Liu: Take Beijing for example, its air pollution was at its worst in 1996-1997 and the measures taken beginning in 1998 helped a great deal.

TOM reporter: The international media is saying that China is one of the 10 most polluted countries in the world. What is your view on that?
Dr. Liu: Their claim is based on factual statistics. Indeed our air pollution levels are high. Our most destructive pollutant is particulates, a problem that is not easily solved. It is exactly this that has raised our overall air pollution index to such high levels. This problem is lurking in many of our cities. Another problem lies in pollutants from cars. The combustion technology of our cars is still at a primitive stage, so the level of pollutants emitted is high. Our current situation is comparable to the situation in Los Angeles. But of course that doesn't mean we need another 20 years to improve the situation. We should be able to see a visible improvement in 5 years.

TOM reporter: Are you still hopeful about our country's environment?
Dr. Liu: Yes, yes. Because we have this determination, and the support of the government and the people.

TOM reporter: How do you view our competition?
Dr. Liu: It's a very good initiative. By letting little children take photos themselves, they can gain a firsthand experience of the environmental problems.

TOM reporter: Do you feel that there's a big difference between this competition and similar ones in Hong Kong?
Dr. Liu: I believe it is due to certain external restrictions. In Hong Kong, everyone has a camera. The theme of our competition at that time was for children to take a photo of a positive environment contrasted against one of a negative environment. The prize goes to the entry with the starkest contrast. But the theme for this competition might have been a bit too broad.

TOM reporter: We hope you would give us some advice?
Dr. Liu: I feel that we should encourage the youths and instill a group spirit in their lives. This would create a strong association and it is this association that is important to youths. Certain small projects could be conducted through this group. This should be the most meaningful.



Live interview with 1st prize winner in the upper division, Ms. Sun by TOM.COM reporter

TOM reporter: Where are you from?
Ms. Sun: I'm from Sichuan. Studying in Tianjin now.

TOM reporter: Where did the inspiration for your photo come from?
Ms. Sun: It was coincidental. I took the photo even before hearing about the competition.

TOM reporter: What are your views on the environmental issues?
Ms. Sun: When I was riding the train, I saw these white plastic bags hanging from trees. I felt that environmental awareness is not widespread. People still dump plastic bags onto the streets and when the wind blows, the look of the city is ruined.

TOM reporter: How do you feel about this competition?
Ms. Sun: I feel that it's extremely good.

TOM reporter: Would you continue to be involved in environmental work from now on?
Ms. Sun: I will be even more passionate about environmental protection and will strive to create even better photos.

TOM reporter: Do you feel that environmental awareness is more common now?
Ms. Sun: I feel that the people now are still lacking in environmental awareness. For example, people walking on the streets very often litter the grounds. Also, I feel that they don't observe the importance of water conservation.