Initiative and Calm in Service to Each Other

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3 comments posted
I like these examples of

I like these examples of Chinese thinking, and agree that their traditional approach to nature merits closer attention. As something of a wilderness activist myself, I reject the notion of wilderness as a pristine place where humans have no place. Instead, I see it as a place where nature and natural places are not dominated by human beings, and where larger-than-human realities such as free-flowing waters, top predators and natural disturbance regimes, still hold sway. To be wild originally meant to be self-willed, and I think the Biblical portraits of desert/wilderness greatly contributed to that.

Sadly, I don't think that the communist government of modern China has retained much reverence for nature (or for the autonomy of its human subjects, for that matter): witness the Three Gorges Dam, or the almost total collapse of avian biodiversity in eastern China following Mao's orders to shoot all the birds in order to protect the crops. On the other hand, I'm encouraged by some of the moves toward sustainable developement in the more remote parts of the country, with help from the WWF and others.

Posted by Dave on May 24, 2006 11:13 AM
Dave, I agree that China

Dave, I agree that China doesn't have the great environmental record. And Mao really went nuts with the Cultural Revolution.

One thing on the pro-environment side that you didn't mention is the relative success of the one-child policy. Acknowledging the human rights problems with the policy, one cannot underestimate the environmental benefits that have resulted from the success of that policy.

On another positive note. The Chinese are better at most at doing campaigns to change behavior. So when China really gets on board with an environmental agenda, its ability to change the behavior of its citizens is much better than in most countries. I would attribute both the pluses and minuses of China's ability to change group behavior as having more to do with Chinese culture and history than it has to do with the foreign import called, "communism."

Posted by Shai Gluskin on May 24, 2006 12:48 PM