Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sand and Nuts

Well, no rugby pics. It rained yesterday. I like PLAYING rugby in the rain but not watching. But that rain was a good thing. It washes all the Chinese sand out of the air. Today is nice and clear. Actually last night was clear too so I went for a soggy jog. I swear to God I could feel the difference in the air.

For those of you who think the yellow sand is just a wivestale, there is actually a yellow sand level graph kept daily on the website Not that the US military doesn't support wivestales wholeheartedly like the one about the Iraq war being about freedom or womd's or anything but oil, but... I still believe in the sand.

And here's a pic taken from the window of one of my classrooms at HUFS. That ain't smog, it's sand that's obscuring the mountains in the distance. And they're not THAT far in the distance.

It's not the sand that is so bad. I don't think it would hurt just breathing in sand. Heck, Jesper Parnevik, (a pro golfer), EATS sand all the time. But since China has become the "next superpower" economically, EVERYBODY in China is buying cars with their new riches. And the pollution is stifling. Worse than traditional front running Bangkok, Thailand, or so I've heard from friends who've been to major Chinese cities recently. It's hard to imagine worse than Bangkok as far as smog.

Anyway, the sand mixes with that toxic poison before it arrives in Korea and is inhaled by me. So I've had what I believe has been more of an infection than a cold for a couple months. And, (yes, Heather), I'm blaming it on China. But I'm finally getting over it. I STILL hack up sand in the morning and I can't sleep too well but I've got enough energy to exercise again and keep my house clean. I haven't been answering emails or keeping up with my work either. I did some marking yesterday that I should have done two months ago. As my blog will attest, I've been going out drinking with friends over the past couple months. This has been therapeutic, infection-killing drinking, don't you know.

Korea has been planting trees in China to help block the sand but if you know anything at all about the Chinese, they'll just fatten them up and cut them down for lumber. Don't think this is in any way racist because it was a Chinese guy who told me this: "Here's the difference between Canada and China: you have 100 trees with two people competing for logging rights. In China we have two trees and 100 people competing for logging rights."

I asked him if he didn't see WHY that might be the case from what he had just told me. NO IDEA!! I explained to him that the 2 Canadians would cut down maybe 50 of the trees then plant 200 more. The 100 Chinese people should be looking elsewhere to make their fortunes. Leave the trees alone if there are only 2 left for God's sake! Should be obvious, shouldn't it?

I wonder if the trees the Koreans are planting are pine trees. I wonder this because I also read an article written by a North Korean who had defected to South Korea. He was writing about the pine nut "harvest" in N. Korea. He wrote about how people, crazed by the money available from the sale of pine nuts to the Chinese, were cutting down trees to get the pine cones. He wrote about how he started collecting pine nuts by climbing the trees and shaking them off the branches. But he could see how easily other people were making their money by simply chopping the trees down so he said he ended up doing it too.

The pine nuts are inside the pine cones and are quite expensive due to their nutritiousness, (hightest protein of any nut or seed), and the hard labour through which they are acquired. It seems like almost everything nutritious is expensive doesn't it? Anyway, a lot of the pine nuts exported from China are collected by poor North Koreans and Russians. The ones collected in China are collected by poor Chinese. They get paid almost nothing for their work because, hey this is China we're talking about here, but if they cut the trees down they can get many more nuts with far less effort. The end result is more money. STILL not enought to be considered slave wages, but more than they're used to getting. And economically, it's not a bad thing either. There won't be so many pine trees left since A) they're killing them, and B) the pine nuts are the seeds that aren't being planted to make more trees. So every year, due to the laws of supply and demand, pine nuts will get more expensive, the pine nut barons of China will get richer, buy more cars and make the air dirtier, AANNDD, there will be more, and more dangerous yellow sand here in Korea.

So I'm not eating another pine nut, dammit. I'm done with pine nuts. No more! I just thank God the Chinese aren't chopping down pistachio trees!

No comments: