青年说 ‖ 杨新平：环保之路，我这样走过…
My name is Yang Xinping, and I am an ordinary and extraordinary environmentalist. "Ordinary" is from my point of view. From the moment I stepped into the environmental profession in my freshman year, I became an ordinary member of the "environmentalist" group. "Extraordinary" is from the environmental group's point of view that gathers people with original ecological protection intentions. Compared with many other majors that can bring immediate contributions to society, environmentalists have more patience, focus, and persistence to the original intent.
Walk into the door with an environmental protection intention
The mistake of filling in the environmental major in the college entrance exam has surprised me to discover my interest. A few years of university studies have taught me about the seriousness of China's environmental situation while seeing the hope of clean water and green mountains. My concern about air pollution started in the winter of 2013 with the heavy haze in North China. The reports of low visibility, school lockdowns, flight cancellations, highway closures, bus-line suspensions, etc. all made me determined to learn about air pollution prevention and control.
After that, the haze comes back every winter. Everyone is used to wearing masks, and children no longer have outdoor sports lessons. As Chai Jing said in the documentary "Under the Dome,"
"Living in Beijing, which has 175 days of pollution a year, I was afraid that my daughter would one day ask me, 'What is a blue sky?' and 'Why am I always locked up at home?'" So I abandoned the second degree in accounting I had taken as an undergraduate and decided to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental studies.
Calm down and feel the beauty of scientific research
My main research focus during my Ph.D. is on atmospheric oxidation. Atmospheric oxidizability plays a crucial role in driving secondary pollution events such as haze and ozone in China. The oxidants in the atmosphere are mainly OH radicals. Due to the unpaired electrons in the outer layer, free radicals have very high activity and can react quickly with most air substances. Therefore, the primary pollutants emitted by automobile exhaust or industrial emissions can be oxidized into secondary pollutants. China is currently in a compound pollution situation in which both primary and secondary pollution co-exist.
To better study the causes of secondary pollution, we have conducted many out-of-field observation experiments in four major urban agglomerations in China, including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region (Wangdu of Hebei, Yufa, Huairou, and urban areas of Beijing), Pearl River Delta (Guangdong, Heshan, and Shenzhen), Yangtze River Delta (Taizhou, Jiangsu), and Chengdu-Chongqing Region (Chengdu). With the cooperation of various units, we can obtain data on the concentrations of critical primary and secondary pollutants in the air. Based on models and other methods to study the interaction between various contaminants in the air, we can investigate secondary air pollution causes and make recommendations for remediation.
I realized the importance of responsibility when I walked out of campus
Along with my professional and theoretical knowledge, I travel around the motherland during vacations to see the local environment and development status and think about how better it is to balance the environment and economic development. I have been to many places with the university doctoral service team, including Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang, Zhangjiakou of Hebei, Lingbi of Anhui, Fenyang of Shanxi, Jiaxing of Zhejiang, and Yunfu of Guangdong. These research visits have shown me the necessity of environmental protection governance. With ecological research development, I can see the clear water and blue sky just around the corner.
Next year, I will graduate to work. I will continue my career in the environment, applying the theory I learned to practical, atmospheric management, and providing governance advice where needed. I will try my best to return a blue sky to you soon!