Green Activists Detained for ‘Prostitution,’ Yangtze Dolphins Rebound

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 since 1951. It shows that the temperature has risen particularly since the 1980s, with the highest temperature deviations registered in 1998, 2006, and 2007. See the historical pattern in the half-minute video below.

China’s pollution is no big news, yet on the morning of December 3, in Ningde, Fujian province, southeast China, word of the arrest of two activists gathered steam on Chinese social media. Mr. Xu, of Nature University, and Ms. Tian, of Tianjin Luling (“Green Leaders”), were investigating nickel mining and its connection to wetland degradation in Ningde when they were taken away by local police, who charged them with suspected prostitution, according to a Caixin report (Chinese-language). A WeChat post (in Chinese), by a friend of both Xu and Tian, explained that they are dating and that they chose to share a room because Xu, an activist blacklisted for monitoring local polluters, feared being identified by authorities if he checked into a hotel with his own ID. The police, failing to produce evidence of the alleged “prostitution,” released them after less than a day in detention and sent them to the railway station to go back to Beijing on the morning of December 4. In September, Xu wrote an open letter to Pan Yue, the outspoken vice minister for the environment, inviting him to witness for himself Ningde’s pollution, caused by a rush to attract heavy industries moved there from more developed regions.

Some encouraging news came from marine biologists in Hubei province, and their WWF China partners, who together reported a doubling of the population of the finless porpoise—a Yangtze River cousin of the dolphin. Over a five-year period, there has been an increase of 27 porpoises in a state-level nature preserve in Tian’ezhou in Shishou City. In addition, among the 59 porpoises pulled from the water for physical checkups, half of the 18 female adults were pregnant, nine were nursing babies, and four were nursing and already pregnant again. Scientists are excited by the good news from the preserve, the only such place to succeed at protecting these endangered migratory cetaceans.

Still, there’s more work to be done, as we’re reminded by Racing Extinction, the breathtaking documentary that premiered on the Discovery Channel on December 2. Here’s the trailer: