Perception is Reality; Chinese Adapt to Climate Change by Redefining ‘Environment’

Beijing – The 2012 update to the Chinese Mandarin Dictionary, the official dictionary of the Peoples Republic of China was published earlier this week.  While annual updates to the dictionary usually occur without fanfare, this year’s updates include significant modifications not seen since the Government began producing the official publication in 1950.

Jennifer Zhang, an expert in Mandarin at Tufts University explained, “words such as water, air, sky and environment have all been significantly altered by new definitions”.

Zhang translated a number of these re-defined terms, highlighting the key changes that have been made.

Water is now defined as an ‘opaque liquid, which often has a slight odor and mild metallic taste.’

Air reads as, ‘a thick, white and hazy mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and a myriad of other particulates and gases generated by strong economic growth’

Sky has been revised as, ‘the upper atmosphere of earth, characterised by its brown and orange hue in sunlight.’

Jared Wilks, a climate change specialist from the IPCC interviewed for this story characterized the definition changes as “a unique but as yet unproven approach to climate change adaption.”  Wilks added, “Whilst from a philosophical point of view I would say perception is reality, the IPCC does not condone such actions as particularly effective means of adaptation to environmental pollution”.

No officials from the Chinese embassy were available for comment.


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