Yangtze paddlefish is extinct

Source: Sup China (1/6/20)
The Yangtze River Paddlefish Is Extinct


SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

The Yangtze (长江 cháng jiāng) is the longest river in Asia, and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country, all the way from the Tibetan Plateau to its mouth on the East China Sea near Shanghai.

Sadly, pollution and overfishing have decimated the unique ecosystem of the river, endangering species such as the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Chinese alligator. Last week, the Chinese government announced a 10-year ban on commercial fishing on the Yangtze River. But this came too late for one of the great river’s native species. The South China Morning Post reports:

The Chinese paddlefish, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species and a native of the Yangtze River system, has been declared extinct.

Also known as the Chinese swordfish, the species grows up to 7 meters long and is believed to have vanished between 2005 and 2010. Chinese scientists made the announcement in a research paper published in Science of the Total Environment last week.

Beijing Garbage

Beijing Garbage: A City Besieged by Waste, by Stefan Landsberger
Table of Contents + Intro
Amsterdam University Press, April 2019
232 pages, 20 b/w illustrations
Hardback: ISBN 978 94 6372 030 4
e-ISBN 978 90 4854 287 1
€99.00 / £89.00 / $120.00
Open access

Why do central and local government initiatives aiming to curb the proliferation of garbage in Beijing and its disposal continue to be unsuccessful? Is the Uberization of waste picking through online-to-offline (O2O) garbage retrieval companies able to decrease waste and improve the lives of waste pickers? Most citizens of Beijing are well aware of the fact that their city is besieged by waste. Yet instead of taking individual action, they sit and wait for the governments at various levels to tell them what to do. And even if/when they adopt a proactive position, this does not last. Official education drives targeting the consumers are organized regularly and with modest success, but real solutions are not forthcoming. Various environmental non-governmental organizations are at work to raise the level of consciousness of the population, to change individual attitudes towards wasteful behavior, but seemingly with little overall effects. Continue reading

Land/scaping Taiwan–cfp

CFP: Land/scaping Taiwan: (Non-)Humans, Environment, and Moments of Encounter
Proposals due: December 21, 2019
University of Washington, Seattle
April 17-18, 2020

Sponsored by the UW Taiwan Studies Program, UW Department of Landscape Architecture/College of Built Environments, and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation


We are seeking proposals for a small, intensive workshop on the theme of “Land/scaping Taiwan: (Non-)Humans, Environment, and Moments of Encounter,” to be held at the University of Washington, Seattle on April 17-18, 2020.

Landscapes often exist as material records, surrounding environments, or representations. We propose to move beyond these frameworks to see landscapes as embodied modes of habitation and of human and non-human encounters with the land in which ongoing processes of acting in and with the world take place. By focusing on processes of encounter, occupation, and mediation, we also seek to redefine “land” more broadly, for example on human interactions with natural, social, and imagined worlds, or alternate -scapes such as waterscapes, bodyscapes, technoscapes, mediascapes, cyberscapes, etc. Continue reading

Rising sea levels to sink Shanghai

Source: Sup China (11/4/19)
Rising Sea Levels To Sink Shanghai, Says Study
By The Editors

Photo credit: SupChina illustration

Shanghai in Chinese literally means “upon the sea” (上海 shànghǎi). But if the projections in a new study are correct, China’s most populous city may very well be “under the sea,” or 下海 xiàhǎi, by the end of the century.

The new calculations: Two scientists at an organization called Climate Central found a more accurate method to estimate land elevation from satellite data.

  • Sea level rise due to climate change will be at least 0.5 meters by the end of the century, even with “sharp, immediate cuts to carbon emissions,” and levels could rise by two meters or more.
  • Tens of millions more people than previously thought are vulnerable to these rises in sea level, when compared with the more accurate land elevation data.

Continue reading

‘What about China?’ is a bad response to the climate crisis

Source: The New Republic (9/20/19)
“What About China?” Is a Bad Response to the Climate Crisis
Unlike Washington, Beijing has at least gestured at a national plan to fight global warming.

Beijing smog in 2015 (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Whenever the subject of climate policy comes up in the United States, someone in the room, sooner or later, is sure to point out that China today emits more carbon dioxide than the U.S. What is China doing to tackle the climate crisis, they ask.

Together, China and the U.S. are responsible for a walloping 43 percent of the world’s total annual carbon emissions. If the world is to keep the planet from warming more than two degrees over pre-industrial levels, neither country can stay on the sidelines. But there’s a profound difference, so far, in how the two countries have approached the issue. In the U.S., public concern has driven government engagement with the climate. Prodded by an increasingly agitated and vocal public, Democratic politicians, including 2020 presidential hopefuls, are increasingly discussing a potential Green New Deal, and other plans to deal with the crisis. But what will come of any of this is anybody’s guess, and any meaningful, concerted action by Washington will likely have to wait until the current president leaves office. While individual climate-aware states and cities are helping to compensate, the national government remains in a holding pattern. Continue reading

Chinese Environmental Humanities

Hello, I am pleased to announce that the first Chinese Environmental Humanities anthology is finally out. I’d appreciate if you can recommend it to your librarian to purchase this book.

Here I’d like to thank all the scholars involved in this project: Profs. Joni Adamson, Scott Slovic, Kiu-wai Chu, Haomin Gong, Xinmin Liu, Dong Isbister, Ralph Litzinger, Jeffrey Nicolaissen, Xiumei Pu, Steve Roddy, Steve Rachman, Darryl Sterk, Christopher K Tong, Fan Yang, Winnie Yee, Runlei Zhai, 釋昭慧. Thanks for being part of this CEH family, it’s such an honor to work with all of you!

I also want to express my gratitude to the following scholars: Patrick D. Murphy, Masami Yuki, Serpil Oppermann, Karen L. Thornber, Sheldon Lu. Thank you for being part of the family as well. Finally, I am indebted to the editor-in-chief of Chinese Literature and Culture in the World Series (Palgrave), Ban Wang, for the invitation. It’s been a wonderful journey working with you and the Palgrave crew. Continue reading

Mao’s beach

Source: NYT (8/22/19)
At Mao’s Beach, China’s Leaders Still Make History as Lifeguards Hide From the Sun
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Jane Perlez

Enjoying the waters at the beach in Beidaihe, China, in August. Credit: Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

BEIDAIHE, China — Most summers, the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong, made big and fateful decisions at a funky stretch of beach a few hundred miles east of the nation’s sweltering capital. He swam in weather fair or foul. He sat cross-legged in the sand, dressed only in black trunks, his portly belly exposed for all to see.

His successors have not been such fearless swimmers, nor such show-offs.

But they still like to come each August to Beidaihe, a mix of shabby coastal resort with high-end villas behind tall fences.

In keeping with the hierarchical character of Chinese socialism, the top officials never rub shoulders with the public. Three distinct categories of visitors exist side by side, separated by earpiece-wearing security forces — and walls. Continue reading

Environmental Activism, Social Media and Protest

I am writing to announce the debut of my book, Environmental Activism, Social Media, and Protest in China: Becoming Activists Over Wild Public Networks. The manuscript takes a close look at environmental protests and the ways in which activists deploy social media to organize outrage and demand change in China, an authoritarian country affected by censorship, surveillance, and state-controlled media. Specifically, I examine anti-PX protests in Xiamen in 2007, Dalian in 2011, and Maoming in 2014.

Blending media, social movement, affect, and network theories, I propose the concept of wild public networks, which supplant the Habermasian public sphere with a dynamic understanding of contemporary argument in a densely panmediated environment awash with images, video, gifs, and creative inventions meant to sidestep censors. I also introduce and advance the concept of force majeure as a way of understanding protests and the various and multiple repercussions they have over time and across space outside of their instrumental success or failure.

Environmental Activism, Social Media, and Protest in China: Becoming Activists Over Wild Public Networks is available through Lexington Books and those that use the discount code LEX30AUTH19 can receive 30% off the list price.

Elizabeth Brunner  <betsyabrunner@gmail.com>

Three Gorges Dam back in the spotlight

Source: China Media Project (7/7/19)

Three Gorges Dam Back in the Spotlight

(Featured image by Michael Gwyther-Jones available at Flickr.com under Creative Commons license.)

The Three Gorges Project, the gravity dam and hydroelectric power station on the Yangtze River that is currently the world’s largest power station, is back in the news in China. And state-run media are pushing to reassure the public that the dam is safe. So why is this becoming an issue now?

In recent days, posts on social media have suggested satellite imagery of the mega-structure now shows that it is warping, calling into question its structural integrity. Other posts have reported so far unsubstantiated claims that authorities have halted tours to the area. Continue reading

Literature in the Age of the Anthropocene

Gwennaël Gaffric, La Littérature à l’ère de l’Anthropocène. Une étude écocritique autour des œuvres de l’écrivain taïwanais Wu Ming-yi [Literature at the Age of Anthropocene: An Ecocritical Reading of Wu Ming-yi’s Works]
Foreword by Stéphane Corcuff
Asiathèque, Collection « Études formosanes »

Editor’s presentation:

Taking an ecocritical approach, Gwennaël Gaffric discusses in this book the literary treatment of ecological issues in Taiwan and beyond. He focuses his study on the works by Wu Ming-yi, a major figure in Taiwanese literary, artistic and militant scenes, but he seeks to expand his presentation by putting in perspective and dialogue texts from other contemporary Taiwanese authors, as well as reflections proposed by thinkers from several disciplines and all geographical horizons. He achieves an impressive synthesis, where ecology becomes an ontology of the relationship between humans and non-humans and an epistemological path to think the Anthropocene. Continue reading

China’s export of coal power imperials climate goals

Source: Japan Times (12/6/18)
China’s unbridled export of coal power seen as imperiling climate goals

China’s unbridled export of coal power seen as imperiling climate goals

Workers sort coal on a conveyer belt near a mine in Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province, on Nov. 20, 2015. | AFP-JIJI

Even as China struggles to curb domestic coal-fired power and the deadly pollution it produces, the world’s top carbon emitter is aggressively exporting the same troubled technology to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, an investigation by AFP has shown.

The carbon dioxide emissions from these Chinese-backed plants could cripple global efforts to rein in global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels — especially coal — analysts warn.

“China is a world leader in terms of embracing the policy and investment needs to progressively decarbonize its economy,” said Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Continue reading

Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age–cfp reminder

Reminder: Applications for the 2019 Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age close on Monday 8 October

This is a friendly reminder that the China Studies Centre’s 2019 Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age will close for applications on Monday 8 October 2018. The workshop will be devoted to “China’s Environmental Challenge and Eco-civilisation: a multidisciplinary approach to the Anthropocene”.

There is no enrollment fee for the graduate workshop. Participants will receive free accommodation. A number of scholarships will be available to help cover the cost of transport to Sydney (up to AUD 1500), relative to country of residence.

Please share this opportunity across your networks

Wen Chen <wen.chen@sydney.edu.au>

Call for Applications: 2019 Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age

The University of Sydney is organising the inaugural graduate workshop of the China Studies Centre’s recently launched multidisciplinary research program on China in the Urban Age. It will be devoted to “China’s Environmental Challenge and Eco-civilisation: a multidisciplinary approach to the Anthropocene”. The deadline for applications is 8 October. Continue reading

Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age 2019–call

China’s environmental challenge and eco-civilisation: a multidisciplinary approach to the Anthropocene 

Call for Applications: The 2019 Graduate Workshop on China in the Urban Age

The University of Sydney is organising the inaugural graduate workshop of the China Studies Centre’s recently launched multidisciplinary research program on China in the Urban Age. It will be devoted to “China’s Environmental Challenge and Eco-civilisation: a multidisciplinary approach to the Anthropocene”, and held in Sydney between 14-18 January 2019. The deadline for applications is 8 October. This is an initiative of the China Studies Centre and the Planetary Health Platform at the University of Sydney. Continue reading

Ministry doubles air quality rankings

Source: Caixin (7/24/18)
Ecology Ministry More Than Doubles Number of Cities in Air Quality Ranking
By Li Rongde

Clear skies greet tourists visiting the Summer Palace in Beijing on June 27. Photo: VCG

Clear skies greet tourists visiting the Summer Palace in Beijing on June 27. Photo: VCG

China’s environmental watchdog has more than doubled the number of cities in its monthly air quality ranking in a bid to pressure authorities to clean up pollution in their respective areas.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said Monday that it will now rate air quality in 169 Chinese cities each month, up from the previous total of 74. It will also highlight the 20 cities with the cleanest air and the 20 cities with the worst air pollution every month, up from the 10 best and worst it published before, the ministry said. Continue reading

Environmental whistleblower gets prison sentence

Source: Sixth Tone (7/12/18)
Environmental Whistleblower Gets Prison Sentence
Chinese authorities confirmed industrial waste dumping in Henan, yet the man who reported it has been convicted of damaging the polluters’ reputations.
By Fan Liya

Photographer’s Choice/VCG

A whistleblower has been sentenced to 17 months in prison for “disturbing market order” after reporting industrial pollution in central China’s Henan province — even though provincial environmental protection authorities have confirmed that his accusations were true.

Zhang Wenqi was sentenced by the court of Wuzhi County on Monday on charges of fabricating facts and causing financial losses to three companies in the province, The Beijing News reported Tuesday. The public prosecutor brought forward the criminal case after the two paper companies and a technology company complained that Zhang’s allegations had damaged their business reputations and caused substantial losses. Continue reading