Category: China Pollution

China’s great dam boom: A major assault on its rivers

(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.

Seeing in the Dark: How porpoises hear in one of the world’s busiest rivers

(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.

China faces its worst economic crisis: water

(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.

Small dams an even bigger dam problem, say researchers

(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.

China’s new dawn

(May 24, 2013) The new dawn of Chinese activism: organic, leaderless and technology-driven. This report by journalist Monica Tan looks at the rise of public protest in China, how activism has moved away from a select high-profile few to become a growing movement made up of ordinary people – ‘lao baixing’ – determined to stand up for their environment. Technology enables large masses of people to get the word out and to assemble at low risk: no one and everyone leads. Some see this grassroots’ movement as the road to democracy and accountability for China.

Netizens against filth

(March 27, 2013) Pollution is once again a dire concern in the wake of China’s formal acknowledgement last month of cancer hotspots, known as “cancer villages,” long speculated to be caused by drinking and irrigation water contaminated by industrial chemicals and heavy metals. More recently, unmanageable garbage sites have posed a threat to Beijing’s drinking water supply. As China’s new leadership moves to clean up the country, citizens still lack access to information that would help them help both their health and their environment but that’s not stopping them from Twittering towards change.

Critic of unbridled growth tipped as new China environment minister

(March 4, 2013) Pan Yue, a popular, outspoken and confrontational environmental official is reportedly a front-runner to become China’s new environment minister. Nicknamed Hurricane Pan, a reference to the “environmental protection storms” Pan led as former vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, the appointment would represent a clear signal to citizens that their new government is serious about improving the country’s rivers and skylines and empowering its environmental protection bodies to take on vested interests, reports Reuters. Although, Pan’s fearless advocacy has hampered his career in the past, promoting someone viewed as a tiger tough on polluters and a critic of unbridled development could help to defuse the civil unrest that has rocked China in recent times, in large part provoked by a loss of faith in the nation’s growth miracle.

Liu Futang’s verdict causes worry amongst China’s green activists

(January 22, 2013) The conviction and sentencing of high-profile Chinese environmental activist Liu Futang is seen as a setback for China’s green movement. Considered political payback for Liu’s efforts to expose the environmental downside of government-backed projects, Liu’s trial has cast a shadow over the country’s new leadership and their commitment to green issues, reports Chinadialogue.net in this article surveying fallout from the verdict.