Over the past sixty years China has achieved something close to a miracle when compared with other developing nations. It by and large manages to feed, educate, house and employ its own people. It is not involved in futile and costly military conflicts. It is a creditor nation, not a debtor. Its social and political system provides sufficient stability for the vast majority of its people to pursue their own livelihoods in a rational and predictable way.Yet all this will be lost if the world does not help China to embrace an ecologically sustainable culture. (More…)
I’m teaching a course in religion and the environment this term, and my students are preparing to debate this very question: is democracy good for sustainability?
By way of background, they have been reading Judith Shapiro’s book Mao’s War Against Nature, which forcefully details the way that Maoist ideology trumped scientific reason in charting China’s development in the twentieth century, resulting in famine, population explosion, and environmental disaster. (More…)
In a world where eco-systems are unraveling and where water, soil, and species are rapidly diminishing, there are few places on Earth where environmental problems are of greater concern than China. The sheer size of the population, over a billion people, and the rapid speed of modernization are creating a collision course for a sustainable future. As China modernizes with an unprecedented rapidity, the destruction of its environment is becoming increasingly visible and ever more alarming. This is affecting not only China but also the entire world. Our interconnected global markets, trade, cultural exchange, and travel are pushing us up against one another as never before. The way China resolves its environmental problems may have an immense affect around the globe.
There are many signs now that these problems are being felt strongly in China with some 60,000 protests a year occurring and with government officials recognizing that the prized Confucian value of political stability may be eluding them. Clearly some new approaches are needed that are not simply punitive, drawing on traditional Chinese Legalism – laws and regulations. Rather, many are looking to Confucianism and other Chinese traditions for a humanistic approach that would create new grounds for environmental protection and social harmony.