When We were 17

Looking back at 2012, the days in the earth science training group and the prelude to the rising tempest of 2013–14

It was the last train leaving childhood, the hand gesture of the conductor before departure. It was the time shown on the clock at the exit of the MRT station, before and after the night journey.

It was the mist in the mountains, the visitor center at the entrance of a hiking trail. It was the chilling wind with heavy moisture, the miscanthus bowing down to the gale. It was the peak hidden in the fog, the omen of the tempest to come.

It was when we still not yet saw the end of each trail, but had to choose between two at every crossroad. We chose one nevertheless; because how easy it was to tell left from right, and right from wrong! After all, every rock we came across in life, we would be able to measure; every constellation in the heavens, we would be able to identify. We lived in the clouds, gazing upwards to see the galaxies, overlooking our feet to study earthly matters.

It was the march of our senpais on the streets, the angst in the atmosphere for an unsecured future. It was the economic system we all despised, the price tag on the scenery of a national park and a media outlet on sale. It was the call for a greener future, the solar panels and offshore wind farms in our dreams.

It was 2012, when we were 17. The mist has never faded, and the mountain peak has never been reached; nevertheless, we must still carry on with the compass in our hearts. Because in this ever confusing world, we must still know how to tell left from right, and right from wrong.

(Photo taken by Wang Yen Hsiang in October 2012)

Footnote on the background of this short essay

Recent events in the public domain in Taiwan and also my own private life brought back many memories of 2012. The cancellation of the broadcast license of Chung Tien News (the equivalent of Fox News in Taiwan) due to the practice of intentional misinformation and its failure to reform properly echoes the demands of anti-media monopoly and media literacy groups (though a little bit too late) and the debate on whether to allow pork with Ractopamine resonated the events eight years ago. On the other hand, 2012 was also one of the decisive moments in my life that I picked up the study of earth science and eventually led to my career in the fields of renewable energy and climate action. Many members from the earth science training group I joined that year remain in contact to this date, and as a reunion has been proposed recently, I felt obligated to write and edit this video essay.

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Tony Yen

Tony Yen

A Taiwanese student who studied Renewable Energy in Freiburg. Now studying smart distribution grids / energy systems in Trondheim.