Green Space was an environmental column by Michael Zhao that ran from November 2015 to May 2016

Green Space

05.18.16

Time Traveling Through Dramatic Urbanization in China Over Decades

Michael Zhao
Twenty-six years ago, only 26 percent of the Chinese population lived in urban areas. Since then, China’s urbanization rate has risen to almost 56 percent, meaning hundreds of millions of people have packed themselves into the country’s 662 cities...

Green Space

05.11.16

The Dark Side of Country Life

Michael Zhao
The last time we peeked at Lei Hu’s photo blog, Lei was giving us a cheery look at a China that we rarely get to see: the countryside and its beauty. But there’s a dark side to country life in China, as well, and a new blog post from Lei explores...

Green Space

05.04.16

Vaccine Scandal Rocks China

David O’Connor
China was rocked last month by another public health scandal, after Chinese police announced the discovery of a criminal organization selling millions of improperly stored vaccines in 24 provinces and municipalities. The affected vaccines have a...

Green Space

04.13.16

Chinese Love Affair with Cars, and Tesla

Michael Zhao
Chinese love their cars. With the emergence of a large middle class, and in spite of restrictions on daily car use in some cities, many Chinese households are choosing to keep a second and sometimes even a third automobile. The world’s most populous...

Green Space

03.25.16

Facebook CEO Defies China Smog; Spoof Projects Nostril-Hair Air Filters

Michael Zhao
At least a few of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users now know that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg ran several miles in some of Beijing’s most notorious smog on Friday March 18 while he was in the city attending a conference. Famously sharing his...

Green Space

03.14.16

Leonardo DiCaprio Wins Oscar and Green Chinese Hearts

Michael Zhao
The Oscars are a big deal among Chinese movie fans. So it was an especially big deal last month when Leonardo DiCaprio, whose fame in China is as big as the name of the film which held the box office crown there from 1997-2009—Titanic—became what...

Green Space

02.29.16

The Odd Shapes of PM2.5

Michael Zhao
A recent episode of “Approaching Science,” a CCTV documentary series, discussed the smog that’s been choking the mainland for the past few years. The show interviews scientists and laypeople to paint a comprehensive picture of the challenges that...

Green Space

02.16.16

Gorging on Gadgets

Michael Zhao
Documentary filmmaker Sue Williams is finishing up her latest documentary about our beloved electronic gadgets, Death By Design. I was involved in the project and traveled with Williams to south China’s Guangdong province, to the the town of Guiyu,...

Green Space

02.04.16

Rescuing China’s Abused Animals

Michael Zhao
We start with a heartwarming note, which I recently heard about in a New Year’s greeting from Animals Asia, a NGO started by Jill Robinson, originally from the U.K., in Chengdu to rescue Asian bears from their torture-chamber-like cages throughout...

Green Space

01.27.16

Kunming’s Stinky Lake, Beijing’s Saving Winds

Michael Zhao
Lake Dian in Kunming, the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province, suffered greatly when, in the 1950s, Chairman Mao Zedong called on the Chinese people to “conquer nature” and reclaim land by filling lakes with soil.Nowadays, Dianchi, as it’s...

Green Space

01.22.16

Sea Level Rise In Pictures, Cancer Villages Near Beijing

Michael Zhao
I think a big part of the reason why citizens of the world have not rallied to deal with climate change is the lack of a certain deadline that would warrant our immediate response to the grave consequences of our warming planet. There is no...

Green Space

01.14.16

Waking the Green Tiger

This documentary—available in full on ChinaFile throughout January courtesy of filmmaker Gary Marcuse—follows a group of environmental activists trying to prevent the construction of dams on the Nu (Salween) and the Upper Yangtze (Jinsha) rivers in...

Green Space

12.22.15

Nu River Saved, Jack Ma Buys Preservation Land

Michael Zhao
A great piece of news came from China on the night of December 16, that the Yunnan provincial government in southwest China has announced its decision to not develop hydro-electric projects on the Nu River, also known as the Salween (link in Chinese...

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...