In The Field

Earth System Science: Everybody’s free

On Saturday, we were warned of a power outage that might occur in our hotel

between 9pm and 3am. How annoying, I thought. And how do they know in

advance about a power outage? When it came, it lasted but a few moments –

and blacked out just in time for a CNN report on the shooting of several

protestors in the Chinese province of…. (I don’t know. The power went out).


There are a number of reporters here from the Chinese media, and I was keen

to find out how free they feel to write what they like, when they like. They

seem confused when I ask about this, which I am not sure is a result of a

cultural or language barrier or legitimate confusion about the notion that

they might be restricted. Then again almost all of the Chinese press here

are very young, for some reason – perhaps not old enough yet to have

developed a hard-nosed sense of cynicism.

PS – I pushed an ominous-looking button on my hotel bedside table today that

simply says ‘do not’ (I have been wondering all week what this would do, but

have been too afraid to try till the last day…). Sadly the answer is

rather mundane – but quite clever. It turns on a little red ‘do not disturb’

light outside my front door. Ohhh…

That’s it from me. See you at the next meeting.


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