Ecological Change in Modern China: Human Impacts and Human Survival

Environmental degradation is a problem around the world, and no less so in northern China. Increasing pressures on land, water, and the natural environment are leading to sometimes devastating ecological changes, including soil erosion, destruction of grasslands and forests, desertification, the drying up of rivers and lakes.

Not only does this affect local people who may see their livelihoods shrink, or be forced to leave newly uninhabitable locations (ecological migration or resettlement), but this also impacts far regions, for instance, through the dust storms that menace Beijing, Tianjin, and through cross border pollution in Korean Peninsula and Japan, reaching even the city of Los Angeles in the US. Food and water shortages, decreased economic production, and damaged human health of just a few of the other consequences.

These are serious on-going problemsdesertification in China still leads to the loss of an astonishing nearly 5,800 square miles (15,000 square km) of grasslands yearly. Yet it is not a given that nothing can be done to improve this situation, and the government has been increasingly concerned, and has been working to address this problem. Importantly, people of all ranks in China are becoming more aware of the issues, and many even starting to question concepts like the "GDP cult"any sacrifice for economic gainsuch that there is now a fertile ground for new ideas on conservation.

This seminar and trip combination is intended to be a stimulating short introduction to this crucial issue of ecological change and its human dimensions in China. It is also a great excuse to get out of the city and into a rural setting for a couple days, to see a natural world that is still very beautiful despite the pressures put upon it, meet some interesting people, enjoy some hiking, and even have a bit of adventure. A short itinerary is provided below. More details for the field trip will be provided during the seminar - Participants will sign up and pay for the trip at the end of the seminar session.

Both the seminar and the field trip will be personally led by Patrick Lucas, a social science researcher and teacher with 17 years experience in China.

Seminar venue: China Culture Center, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China.