Friday Feb 15, 2008

Snow, Snow and Snow!

There is a Chinese saying, “瑞雪兆丰年”, which means “a snow year, a rich year”. However, in this winter, if we ask a question to a person who lives in China, “What impress you most in this winter?”, I believe most likely the answer is “too much snow”. No doubt, there is a very bad snow disaster in south China in recent months. Because of the heavy snow, a lot of people could not go to hometown for Chinese new year holidays; a lot of towns could not have stable power supply; a lot of people had to stay in cars or trucks for days because the highways were blocked; and, the worst, some people living in villages were facing the risk of starving because they ran out of food and could not be reached by outside world. In the TV news, I saw that soldiers had to drive armored vehicles to carry food to a village. Disaster, a word that seems not that closely related with our daily life, now seems so near with us.

Although I myself am not living in south China and do not experience the heavy snow, I am feeling the disaster though TV programs, newspapers and Internet. Because most of the recent news are about it. I lived in south China in my childhood, so I understand how much troubles the snow disaster would bring to the people living there.

Disasters are horrible, but they can not damage that much if we are prepared against it. Every time I see people struggling in the snow in the TV news, I was always thinking about a question, are there anything we could do to prepare against the disasters, especially in our daily life or work?

Every time after a disaster strike, people will always say: “if we got bla bla prepared, then the damage will be much less than what we got”. While government should do a lot to prepare against disasters, individuals can also do something in our daily life or work. I believe it will help a lot if the huge population would think about it and contribute a bit. I myself thought about it and have some straightforward ideas:

1. Subscribe to weather forecast and be serious to bad weather warnings. If people would cancel their travel plans in the areas covered by snow disaster, then fewer people will be blocked in the railway stations and no one would be treaded to die.

2. Save power in daily life and work. In the snow disaster, we see that a big problem is the lack of coal for power plants. If all of us have good habits to save energy, then, less coal and power are needed, fewer problems we will have. On the other hand, when disasters come, we will have more energy to deal with them.

3. If you are an engineer, you are so lucky that you could contribute more. For example, you can try to develop better technologies for people to do telecommunication. People can then meet their family members over distance as if they were in one room, instead of have to travel in bad weathers.

OK, I have talked a lot about snow. For the other sorts of disasters, they are the similar cases. For example, investigation reports tell that some forest fires were caused by small cigarettes. If all of us would stop smoking, then the risk of having a forest fire would be decreased a lot. Let’s keep the world and ourself clean.

I love snow, because it is white, clean and beautiful. What’s more, I can enjoy skiing in the winter. I hate snow, because it causes traffic problems and too much of it will make a disaster. Fortunately, we can learn to get prepared against it. As long as we are prepared for it, we will just enjoy it.


Colin Zou is a software engineer enjoying improving operating systems. Besides sitting at a computer all day like a dull boy, he also likes hiking and the activities on the beach.


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