China - Environment

Guiding Questions

1. What major environmental issues is China challenged with? 

2. How do these issues affect us at home?

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  • Interesting enough in several books I have read now on the boom of China's economy, it has come with a steep price of hurting the environment. For many years, even though in other parts of the world, effects of factories were known, China continued to build focusing on economy and profits and not on the side effects.

    China at this point is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and now discharges about twice as much as the United States. Because of its oil and coal industries, pollution is strong and people are speaking up for a change. This effects everyone because there isn't a invisible shield that keeps us safe from the atmosphere.

    Good news though is that there is change in the air and China is now exploring renewable energy such as wind and solar. They plan to be the leading country in the change. In theory, this could lead to less health problems for the Chinese and the world in the future.
  • China'a economic boom has come at the expense of the environment and thereby human health. Currently, China is the largest producer of carbon emissions. Ironically, the degrading environment (if not staved off by political and social reforms) will threaten its future economic growth. Pollution in China is affecting the far west region of the United States.
    • Our world is so interconnected. China's CO2 emissions don't discriminate based on national borders. Everything has global implications.
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Under the Dome - Investigating China's Smog

More context for the viral documentary/speech "Under the Dome": The Washington Post

Lessons plans & resources

Introduction to Environmental Challenges in China Teach Engineering (Grades 5-7)

Environment & Development PBS (Grades 10-12), from TV series China From the Inside


Integrating digital technologies and energy management in China, by Darrell West & Qi Ye, Brookings Institution, April 2017

China Has Abandoned 103 Coal Power Plants. Here's What Else is Changing, by James Pennington, World Economic Forum, February 2017

How Climate Activist Ma Jun Went From China's Enemy to Ally, by David McKenzie, CNN, February 2017

China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020 by Michael Forsythe, New York Times, January 2017 Central Intelligence Agency

The Nine Nations of China by Patrick Chovanec, The Atlantic, November 2009

China's Geographic Challenge Stratfor 

Understanding the Geography of China Asia Society

The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea? by Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2010

Maps of China Asia for Educators, Columbia University

Recommended Maps of China East Asia in Geographic Perspective, Columbia University

The China Game Asia Society. Based on a board game created at the University of Vermont, this interactive trivia-type flash game has students answer questions about Chinese history and geography to “race” a dragon from the city of Harbin in the east to Urumqi in the west.

What's in a Name? Chinese Rivers, Cities, and Provinces Asia for Educators, Columbia University

World's worst restoration? China's Great Wall covered in cement, CNN River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future by Elizabeth Economy