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Here's a state of things
How did it get this way?
Dev Rev Modernity
How did it get this way?
Dev Rev Modernity
Readings for Unit 5: CURRENT PROBLEMS
This section is going to feel more like an Environmental Studies class than an anthropology class, but with a bit of culture thrown in, particularly toward the end. Readings on specific topics will come from a wide variety of disciplines, both in the earth and the social sciences.
Wednesday, November 16: Food
We look at questions of food from two different angles: production and consumption:
Monday, November 21: Water
Water supply and quality may be the bottleneck that stops every other factor in China's economic development. Begin with a piece of unashamed advocacy, but one that contains a lot of useful summary information, Keith Schneider's China's Other Looming Choke Point: Food Production. You may also want to poke around on the Circle of Blue's Choke Point: China web feature more generally. For a more scientific account of the particular problems of North China, read Stephen Foster, et al's Quaternary Aquifer of the North China Plain, and for assessment of a possible solution, which nevertheless has its own problems, read Jeremy Berkoff's article on The South-North Water Transfer.
In class I will present an overview of water issues, and we will discuss the best ways for solving China's water problems.
Wednesday, November 23: Deserts and Forests
We are going to concern ourselves primarily with forests, since that's what I know more about. But there is a good discussion of desertification, among just about everything else, in a recent article from Mother Jones by Jacques Leslie, and Dee Williams has a nicely deconstructive chapter on Land Degradation and the Chinese Discourse.
With regard to forests, please begin with a general account of forests and forestry in the reform period, very hot off the presses (as in last week) by Alicia Robbins. Then read an optimistic account of the overall situation, based on national statistics, in Zhang Yuxing and others' article on Deforestation and Reforestation and two more skeptical accounts, based on local research, one by Horst Weyerhaeuser et al. on Local Impacts and Responses and one by Chrstine Trac and some other authors you might recognize, on Reforestation Programs in Southwest China.
Monday, November 28: Pollution and Health
Almost all of the attention in the foreign press to environmental problems in China deals with pollution. Well, fair enough; pollution isn't at the root of anything, but it is obvious and it is bad. As Tom Lehrer once sang,
Like lambs to the slaughter
They're drinking the water
And breathing the air
So start out with a very general overview of current pollution problems and then read some specifics: an assessment of the health effects of water pollution, by Changhua Wu, et al., Water Pollution and Human Health in China, and surveys of the health effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution. Then read Bryan Tilt's The Struggle for Sustainability, as a nice Thanksgiving weekend recreation. Also, Dan Milleson, in his article on Reviving the Scorched Earth? suggests some steps toward a solution.
Come to class prepared to discuss the possibilities for and the obstacles to environmental cleanup.
Wednesday, November 30: Energy
China's energy use has become a concern not only in China, but to the world, because of its implications for climate change, energy prices, even the prospect of international conflict. The first half of today we will deal mostly with the internal perspective, both macro and micro. For background on this, begin with the comprehensive (though somewhat oil-centric) analysis from the US Energy Information Administration, or the informative (if not terribly scholarly or analytical) overviews on ChinaFAQs. Then go to some contentious debates about nuclear power, with position briefs both pro and con. Then read a bit about hydropower and the battle between water and fire. Finally, consult the interesting blog from James Connelly, a student in this very class in Winter 2010, about the increased use of energy in urban buildings. Summing it all up is a handy presentation.
Monday, December 5: Biodiversity, Conservation, and Enviornmentalism
The problems of biodiversity and conservation are set forth nicely in a general sense by Liu Jianguo's article in Science on Protecting China's Biodiversity. Here we are less interested in the facts than in the way biodiversity and conservation provide a window into Chinese culture and Chinese views of the environment. So you should read chapter 4 at least, and if you want, chapters 5-7, of Weller's Discovering Nature.
In order to put these Chinese views into a comparative context, also please read Alejandro Flores and Tim Clark's article on Finding Common Ground in Biological Conservation, and come to class prepared to think about whether China, for all its problems, might not have a cultural advantage in getting beyond certain controversies that have hamstrung environmental science and politics in other countries.