China’s environment is increasingly in the news. The controversy over the Three Gorges Dam comes immediately to mind—but think too of major flooding on the Yangtze River, dust storms that blow from the Gobi Desert over the Pacific Ocean as far as North America, and the environmental theme of Beijing’s 2008 Olympics bid, among many other pressing concerns. From local pollution caused by rural enterprises producing for export markets to the effects of China’s coal consumption on global climate change, the fate of China’s environment is both alarming and tremendously important to global sustainability. Furthermore, as human ecologist Baruch Boxer puts it, China’s environmental experience is “perhaps the world’s best case study” of the possibilities for environmental sustainability in a context of rapid social, economic, and political change.
Teaching China’s Environment: Beyond the Three Gorges