Michael Zhao is a multimedia producer who focuses on environmental issues in China. From 2003 to 2005, he was a News Assistant in the Beijing Bureau of The New York Times, where he worked with Pulitzer Prize winners Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley. While reporting with Yardley on the shrinking Crescent Lake in Dunhuang, Gansu province, a tourist spot along the ancient Silk Road in Northwestern China, Zhao took a picture with his point-and-shoot camera that ended up being used on the front page of the Times despite his lack of professional training in photography at that time.

Zhao later attended the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied multimedia journalism and switched focus from print to new media. He finished a thesis project in multimedia about electronic waste from developed countries being dumped in China. This project was advised by Orville Schell, who was then Dean of the School of Journalism. Zhao now works for Schell in the Center on U.S.-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. With the Center, Zhao has launched China Green, a site focusing on China’s environmental issues. He has also recently launched China Air Daily, an interactive website on air pollution.

Last Updated: May 2, 2014

Green Space

12.16.15

Ivory Price Has Halved, But No Celebration Yet

Michael Zhao
International NGOs such as Save the Elephants have shared the great news that the price of ivory has decreased by almost 50 percent over the past year and a half, thanks to successful campaigns by NGOs in educating the public, and also to...

Green Space

12.15.15

China is ‘Rational’ Leader on Climate Change, Says Retired NASA Scientist James Hansen

Michael Zhao
James Hansen, retired NASA scientist and “father of climate change awareness,” believes China, the world’s largest CO2 emitter, will now step up to provide the carbon emissions reduction leadership lacking from the U.S., according to a Guardian...

Green Space

12.11.15

Tiananmen Police Don Smog Masks, Wind Makes or Breaks the Blue Sky

Michael Zhao
Now that Beijing has had its first red alert since institutionalizing its smog alert system in 2013, it was news when the special forces who guard Tiananmen Square were seen, for the first time, wearing face masks to protect them from the smog, too...

Green Space

12.11.15

Saving Elephants No Tall Order for Yao Ming

Michael Zhao
Chinese Internet giant Tencent teamed up with international NGO The Nature Conservancy to launch a campaign to promote December 2015 as Elephant Loving Month in China. The following animated short illustrates the toll human greed for ivory takes on...

Green Space

12.08.15

Smog Strike Round II

Michael Zhao
Not surprisingly, smog yet again strikes back in much of China. Using the automatic weapon of our archive of daily photos of three of China’s major cities, I’d like to share a flashback of Beijing’s air quality throughout the month of November,...

Green Space

12.04.15

Green Activists Detained for ‘Prostitution,’ Yangtze Dolphins Rebound

Michael Zhao
Given that the Paris climate negotiations are underway, it is fair to start off with something about rising temperatures. This comes from a neat animation posted on Data Seeds’ WeChat Account that visualizes the warming trend within China’s borders...

Green Space

12.03.15

Smog and Imagination

Michael Zhao
The last few days of November, air pollution was back in the headlines and social media feeds of millions of Chinese. Here are a few highlights:The creative WeChat post “Beijing Smog: Use Your Imagination When You Go Out,” shows a series of photos...

Green Space

11.30.15

China’s Joking on Smog

Michael Zhao
In the world of Chinese air pollution, there’s a new kid on the block. Shenyang, the northeastern stronghold of heavy industry and manufacturing since the Mao era, last week saw its levels of PM2.5 pollution shoot past 1000 and register a whopping...

Environment

08.12.15

Beijing’s Air Quality May Finally Be Improving ... But it Still Ain’t Great

Michael Zhao
In February, a Chinese celebrity journalist named Chai Jing released a video on the Internet about the damage air pollution was causing her country. During the week it was online (before Chinese censors pulled it down), people viewed the video 200...

Conversation

07.08.15

Are China’s Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Meaningful?

Barbara A. Finamore, Sam Geall & more
Last week, Premier Li Keqiang said China would cut its “carbon intensity”—the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP—to 60-65 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. Visiting Paris, the site in September of the United Nations Climate Change...

Conversation

03.03.15

Why Has This Environmental Documentary Gone Viral on China’s Internet?

Angel Hsu, Michael Zhao & more
[Updated: March 6,  2015] Our friends at Foreign Policy hit the nail on the head by headlining writer Yiqin Fu's Monday story "China's National Conversation about Pollution Has Finally Begun." What happened? Well, in the...

Environment

01.23.15

China’s Air Pollution: The Tipping Point

Michael Zhao
Last November, Beijing saw a stretch of solidly clear skies and the Chinese media coined a phrase to describe them: APEC blue. After the diplomats and businesspeople gathered in China’s capital for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum...