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...

Sinica Podcast

01.27.16

Air Pollution and Climate Change

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined by Deborah Seligsohn, former science counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and currently a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego, where she studies environmental...

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...

Media

12.15.15

The Proletariat Experience of Beijing’s Airpocalypse

On December 8, a Tuesday, a man surnamed Cao piloted his electric scooter along Beijing’s profoundly hazy streets, parking in front of one towering apartment complex after another to deliver packages. Although the government had just issued a “red...

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...

China to Receive $300m Loan to Combat Pollution Levels

BBC
The ADB said that poor air quality had reached such a serious level that it was "jeopardising health and sustainable growth"...

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...

Polluted Skies Heighten Challenge for Chinese Government

EDWARD WONG
New York Times
Red has been considered the color of prosperity and good fortune in China for centuries, and it is also the color of the Communist Party.

Amid China’s Smog Worries, One More: Counterfeit Masks

VANESSA PIAO
New York Times
The customs authorities in Shanghai have seized nearly 120,000 counterfeit surgical masks.

Environment

12.10.15

Global Carbon Emissions May Stall in 2015

from chinadialogue
Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas as well as from industrial activities grew by just 0.6 percent in 2014, according to researchers from the Global Carbon Project of the organization Future Earth.The researchers say...

Why Pollution is Good for China

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
I am a member of a martial arts group that performs at annual temples fairs around Beijing.

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,...

Why Pollution is Good for China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
I am a member of a martial arts group that performs at annual temple fairs around Beijing. Half of our group are children, and almost without fail they meet at a park on the west side of town at around three in the afternoon to practice fighting...

Beijing Issues Air Pollution Red Alert for the First Time

Bloomberg
Beijing issued its most severe smog warning for Tuesday.

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...

China Plans to Upgrade Coal Plants

EDWARD WONG
New York Times
China's cabinet announced that it would try to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants by 60 percent by 2020 through upgrades to plants...

China's Blast of Fresh Air Quiets Calls for Beijing Mayor's Head

Bloomberg
A cold front that swept choking smog from northern China couldn’t have come sooner for Beijing’s mayor.

Sinica Podcast

12.01.15

Live at the Bookworm, Part II

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This is the second part of the Live Sinica discussion recorded last month during a special event at the Bookworm literary festival. In this show, David Moser and Kaiser Kuo were joined by China-newcomer Jeremy Goldkorn, fresh off the plane from...

Putting China’s Coal Consumption Into Context

Qi Ye
Brookings Institution
Few issues are more likely to provoke interest about China.

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...

China Decries Shenyang Pollution Called 'Worst Ever' by Activists

BBC
On Sunday pollution readings were about 50 times higher than that considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Environment

10.30.15

China’s Stalk-Burning Clampdown Shows Limits of Command-and-Control

from chinadialogue
At the end of the National Day holiday earlier this month, Beijing bid farewell to weeks of relatively good air quality and experienced another episode of “Airpocalypse.” Levels of PM2.5, tiny pollution particles that are deemed particularly harmful...

Environment

09.17.15

Beijing Welcomes World’s First Smog-Eating Tower

from chinadialogue
Beijingers enjoyed a rare breath of fresh air this week. The city’s smog levels fell to their lowest levels in recent years, as authorities scrambled to shut down factories and curb car use so that China’s Second World War victory military parade...

U.S. and China Aim to Hit Climate Goals Sooner Than Expected in Some Cities

CHRISTI PARSONS AND CHRIS MEGERIAN
Los Angeles Times
U.S. and Chinese officials plan to unveil more ambitious carbon-emission rules for several Chinese cities and provinces.

Environment

09.11.15

Beijing Slams Henan Capital for Using Scarce Fresh Water to Combat Smog

Officials in the city of Zhengzhou are under central government scrutiny after media reports revealed the capital of Henan province is using valuable fresh water supplies to combat air pollution. Scientists and academics have criticised...

Environment

08.21.15

Beijing Tells Mayors of Chinese Cities to Clean Up Their Air

from chinadialogue
In China, “APEC blue” was the sarcastic term used to refer to the unusually clear skies Beijing enjoyed when an Asia-Pacific leaders summit was in progress late last year.A similar phenomenon is now being seen in smaller Chinese cities, as mayors...

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...

Environment

07.01.15

China Deepens Planned Cuts to Carbon Intensity

from chinadialogue
China has mapped out how it will try and peak greenhouse emissions by 2030 or before, details that could have a major bearing on U.N. climate talks aimed at delivering a deal in Paris later this year.The world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases “...

Environment

06.15.15

China’s Greehouse Gas Emissions Likely to Peak by 2025

from chinadialogue
China’s output of greenhouse gases could peak in 2025, five years earlier than it has promised, meaning that the world’s largest emitter may be able to quicken the pace of cuts in coming decades, according to a new paper published June 8 by the...

Reports

06.08.15

China’s “New Normal”: Structural Change, Better Growth, and Peak Emissions

Fergus Green and Nicholas Stern
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
China has grown rapidly—often at double-digit rates—for more than three decades by following a strategy of high investment, strong export orientation, and energy-intensive manufacturing. While this growth lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty,...

Caixin Media

06.04.15

China Uses Drones to Monitor Pollution Problems from Above

China’s environmental regulators want to increase the use of drones watching pollution levels, supplementing the existing monitoring system.In the central city of Wuhan, drones were sent to urban areas to inspect emissions from chimneys that are...

Environment

04.30.15

‘Blue Sky’ App Gets China’s Public Thinking About Pollution Solutions

from chinadialogue
The Blue Sky Map app, which was officially launched April 28 by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), enables the public to check up on air and water quality and local sources of pollution, and scrutinize emissions from 9,000...

Car-Hire Services Compete for the Ride Stuff

Qin Min and Wang XInci
Uber's deal with a car broker is a sign of growing competition among firms relying on car-hire and taxi-hailing apps...

Media

03.09.15

China’s Real Inconvenient Truth: Its Class Divide

Rachel Lu
China is talking about its pollution problem, but its equally serious class problem remains obscured behind the haze. Smog leapt to the forefront of Chinese national discourse after the February 28 release of "Under the Dome," a 103-minute...

Sinica Podcast

03.09.15

Under the Dome

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
Under the Dome, Chai Jing's breakout documentary on China's catastrophic air pollution problem, finally hit insurmountable political opposition last Friday after seven days in which the video racked up over 200 million views. The eventual...

China Blocks Web Access to ‘Under the Dome’ Documentary on Pollution

Edward Wong
New York Times
The drama over the video has ignited speculation over which groups supported it and which sought to kill it.

China’s Real Inconvenient Truth: Its Class Divide

Rachel Lu
Foreign Policy
Solving China's air and water pollution will require addressing the gap between rich urbanites and rural peasants...

Environment

03.04.15

Clearing Skies

Adam Minter from Sierra Club
After dark is when the pollution arrives on the outskirts of Shanghai. On a bright night, when moonlight refracts through the smog, you can see black clouds of soot pouring out of small workshop smokestacks silhouetted against the sky. In case you...

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...

Beijing Quietly Curbs Discussion of Documentary on Air Pollution

Te-Ping Chen
Wall Street Journal
Censors stepped in to tamp down the buzz around an air-pollution documentary that drew 100 million views. 

Reports

02.25.15

Double Impact

Valerie J. Karplus
Paulson Institute
This paper makes the case for establishing a national CO2 price in China as soon as possible. End-of-pipe pollution control technologies—a core component of China’s Air Pollution Action Plan (APAP)—can address local air pollution but not CO2...

Environment

02.11.15

China’s New Environment Minister Has Work Cut Out For Him

from chinadialogue
The elevation of the president of China's most prestigious university to the job of government minister was unexpected. It is rare to bring in an academic without a goverment background. But given the tarnished reputation of a ministry that is...

Books

02.10.15

The People’s Republic of Chemicals

William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs
Maverick environmental writers William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs follow up their acclaimed Smogtown with a provocative examination of China’s ecological calamity already imperiling a warming planet. Toxic smog most people figured was obsolete needlessly kills as many as died in the 9/11 attacks every day, while sometimes Grand Canyon-sized drifts of industrial particles aloft on the winds rain down ozone and waterway-poisoning mercury in America.In vivid, gonzo prose blending first-person reportage with exhaustive research and a sense of karma, Kelly and Jacobs describe China’s ancient love affair with coal, Bill Clinton’s blunders cutting free-trade deals enabling the U.S. to "export" manufacturing emissions to Asia in a shift that pilloried the West's middle class, Communist Party manipulation of eco-statistics, the horror of cancer villages, the deception of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and spellbinding peasant revolts against cancer-spreading plants involving thousands in mostly-censored melées. Ending with China’s monumental coal-bases decried by climatologists as a global warming dagger, The People's Republic of Chemicals names names and emphasizes humanity over bloodless statistics in a classic sure to ruffle feathers as an indictment of money as the real green that not even Al Gore can deny.   —Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book  {chop}

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...

Chinese Director’s Film For Greenpeace Shows How Smog Changes Everything

Matt Sheehan
Huffington Post
The film follows families from Hebei, in heavily polluted industrial northern China, and from Beijing, the prosperous Chinese capital next door, that has seen epic pollution emergencies recently.

China Pollution: Beijing Smog Hits Hazardous Levels

BBC
BBC
Pollution has soared to hazardous levels in Beijing, reaching 20 times the limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Environment

11.26.14

The People’s Republic of Chemicals

from chinadialogue
The name of China is almost obscured by a grey smudge on the title page of The People’s Republic of Chemicals, and this image proves to be apt.  This book examines the crisis caused by toxic&...

"Like Running on Mars" - Runners share their Beijing Marathon Stories

Steve George
That’s
To run or not to run? That was the question faced by entrants in Sunday’s Beijing marathon, as they awoke to find hazardous levels of pollution engulfing the city. 

Sinica Podcast

10.17.14

China Daddy Issues

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
We’ve all heard about the difficulty of finding good schools in China, and know first hand about the food and air safety problems. But what about the terrors of pedestrian crossings, the dilemmas of how much trust you should inculcate in your kids,...

Viewpoint

09.25.14

How Bad Does the Air Pollution Have to Be Before You’d Wear a Face Mask?

Stephanie Ho
“Mommy, why don’t I wear a face mask?” asked my nine-year-old daughter Maggie nearly every day during the first few weeks of school. Two of her expat classmates had been in Beijing less than a year, but it seemed as if they wore theirs all the time...

Caixin Media

09.16.14

Grappling with Ammonia in China’s Haze

Chicken farmers and auto designers follow different career paths, but soon both may be changing how they do their jobs as part of a campaign to clean up China's polluted air.Emissions from poultry waste and auto engines alike can contain...

Could Beijing be the Healthiest City in China?

Lilly Kuo
Quartz
Beijing, despite its reputation for dangerous levels of air pollution, choking traffic, and food scandals, is the healthiest city in China.

China Tells Citizens to Walk, Bike, and Snitch in “United Struggle” to Breathe Easier

Lily Kuo
Quartz
The environmental ministry has published a set of guidelines for citizens, which encourage them not only to reduce their personal environmental imprint, but to also turn in polluting and wasteful neighbors. 

Environment

08.13.14

Can a Pollution-Tracking App Kickstart Transparency?

from chinadialogue
It seems counter-intuitive that publicly available data needs grassroots activists to make it accessible. Yet, in a sea of regulations and information, official environmental information can be difficult to parse.The risk of information overload...

Environment

07.23.14

Moving a Mountain, of Trash

from chinadialogue
On July 1, tough new standards for pollution from waste incinerators came into effect. The move is an attempt to end the conflict between communities across China and the nearby rubbish-burning plants they believe threaten their health and house...

PM2.5 Index Reduced in Beijing

Shanghai Daily
Beijing's average PM2.5 index of 91.6 micrograms per cubic meter in first half of 2014 represents an 11.2 percent year-on-year decrease...

Coca-Cola Offers Expats China Pollution Hazard Pay

LISA MURRAY AND ANGUS GRIGG
Australian Financial Review
American beverage giant Coca-Cola is offering a hefty “environmental hardship allowance” to its China-based expatriate employees, as foreign companies struggle to attract and retain staff with many people scared off by chronic pollution.

Sinica Podcast

06.06.14

Rice, Wheat, and Air Filters

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, we're delighted to be joined by Thomas Talhelm, Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Virginia and author of a recent paper proposing a fascinating connection between rice and wheat-growing communities, and...