China’s environmental crisis is the subject of an upcoming international symposium later this month, presented by the Riley Institute at Furman University and the Furman Department of Asian Studies. Probe International’s Patricia Adams will give the closing address on “Saving China’s Environment: Give Power to the People”.
Already, newly completed cascade dams along China’s Lancang River are altering the river’s hydrological regime and sediment flow, blocking fish migration and posing a risk to food security and livelihoods. As more cascade dams roll out along the Lancang, International Rivers offers a better understanding through their research of the environmental impacts of current development and what further impacts can be expected as more projects come online.
Shanghai will suffer Three Gorges Dam impacts the most, says report.
A mind-boggling new twist on the road to urbanization.
(April 24, 2014) Chinadialogue’s Beijing editor Liu Jianqiang reviews China’s newly revised environmental protection law which comes into effect in 2015 and represents the first time the law has been revised in 25 years. The new law provides authorities with the tools to dole out harsher punishments and sanctions to polluters, including more heat for officials found to be falsifying data and ducking environmental impact assessments. Under the new law, individual citizens still will not be able to initiate public interest lawsuits and although NGOs will be able to pursue litigation, the number permitted to do so has been capped, most likely in order to prevent a flood of environmental lawsuits in local courts and local authorities from being sued too frequently — which raises the question: what is the point of the law? In any case, says Mr. Liu, China’s environmental problems cannot be blamed solely on the lack of a powerful law but are more “the consequence of weak implementation and failure to hold officials accountable for rampant pollution and ecological destruction. … What good is perfect legislation if our authorities fail to implement it? China’s new law cannot answer this question.”
(March 17, 2014) Part two of Lily Kuo’s substantial overview of China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project (SNWDP) and its resettlement process. Kuo notes that since 1949, more than 45 million Chinese have been displaced by infrastructure projects and, of those, 12 million have been moved for water schemes. The water projects, she notes, have a particularly depressing record in terms of outcomes for the resettled. Although there are signs, she says, of villagers moved for the SNWDP receiving better care than those in the past, the same old resettlement problems abound. Worst of all, there are no farms to tend and jobs to do. “This isn’t a life,” says one migrant of the soul-destroying joblessness. “In the morning, you see everyone sleeps in. In the afternoon, they play cards. That’s it.”
(March 4, 2014) With China’s economy operating under perverse incentives, China’s leaders, now assembled in Beijing, will be powerless to clean up its environment.
(November 18, 2013) China’s “basic dictatorship” system — controversially praised by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as some sort of green action plan model — has created an environmental crisis for China, says former SNC-Lavalin chairman Gwyn Morgan.
(November 12, 2013) China’s current fever for hydro development is such that even its unparalleled Three Gorges mega-dam now ranks as a mere fraction of its long-term dam agenda, reports Charles Lewis for Yale Environment 360. While China’s need for energy is undisputed, its emphasis on dam construction risks an irreversible legacy of damage the country may never recover from and flies in the face of its present Five Year Plan to develop clean energy, reduce pollution, and protect the environment, says Lewis. Echoing Probe International’s coverage of the innumerable threats posed by construction on such an unprecedented scale, Lewis presents here a valuable and succinct overview of the dangers China’s dam fever represents to its waterways, ecosystems, agriculture and fisheries, traditional livelihoods, species survival and even to its geological stability, as Probe International’s alarming 2012 findings revealed.
(October 21, 2013) Scientists are using medical technology to study the endangered Yangtze finless porpoise and their critical sense of hearing, used for navigation, to understand how these mammals are managing in the very busy and loud waters of China’s high-traffic Yangtze River. “In a noisy environment, they’d have a hard time hearing their prey or their friend. It makes it more difficult for them to conduct basic biological activities such as foraging, communicating, and navigating in the river,” said biologist and lead author of the survey, Aran Mooney.
(October 12, 2013) This Economist report looks at the gravity of China’s water crisis, once summed up by Wang Shucheng, a former water minister as: “To fight for every drop of water or die: that is the challenge facing China.”
(July 3, 2013) Water woes ranging from polluted drinking water to contaminated groundwater reserves and toxic rivers, to cross-border water disputes with neighbours over transboundary river flows, is moving China towards a catastrophe with “profound implications.” In testimony to the U.S. Senate last week, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Asia director Elizabeth Economy names industry as the key culprit. The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.com reports.
(July 4, 2013) A new study reveals that sewage treatment facilities in Beijing’s suburbs are below standard and poorly regulated. The absence of tough water protection laws and enforcement is turning Beijing’s townships into regional sources of pollution in a city already overburdened by threats to water safety.
(June 20, 2013) A new report says the global push to reduce greenhouse gases by building small dams, with the help of the Kyoto Protocol, is causing unanticipated and potentially significant losses to habitat and biodiversity.
(June 1, 2013) New research from Oregon State University reveals small dams are no easier on the environment than their larger counterparts and often present more of a threat to their surroundings. The comparison between 31 small dams built on tributaries to China’s Nu River and four large dams proposed for the main stem of the same river, found the effects of the smaller dams were worse for nine out of the 14 characteristics studied. Habitat loss and damage at several dam sites show that the environmental effects of small dams are often greater, sometimes by several orders of magnitude. “A lack of regulation paired with a dearth of communication between small dam projects in China allows for the effects to multiply and accumulate through several dam sites,” say researchers.