Thursday, February 22, 2007

China: The Environmental Challenge

I have just recently read a very interesting article on China's environmental crisis in the Independent titled: China Crisis: threat to the global environment. This article really clearly demonstrates that as a global community our consumption patterns are driving us to oblivion at a nerve-wrecking pace.

In the article the writer Michael McCarthy (Environment Editor) postulates that China's growth cannot continue at its present course for too long. He writes: "If growth continues at 8 per cent a year, Mr Brown said, by 2031 China's population, likely to be 1.45 billion on current UN predictions, will have an income per person equivalent to that of the US today. He said: "China's grain consumption will then be two-thirds of the current grain consumption for the entire world. If it consumes oil at the same rate as the US today, the Chinese will be consuming 99 million barrels a day - and the whole world is currently producing 84 million barrels a day, and will probably not produce much more. If it consumes paper at the same rate we do, it will consume twice as much paper as the world is now producing. There go the world's forests. If the Chinese then have three cars for every four people - as the US does today - they would have a fleet of 1.1 billion cars, compared to the current world fleet of 800 million. They would have to pave over an area equivalent to the area they have planted with rice today, just to drive and park them."

"The bottom line of this analysis is that we're going to have to develop a new economic model [editor's own highlighting in bold]. Instead of a fossil-fuel based, automobile-centred, throw-away economy we will have to have a renewable-energy based, diversified transport system, and comprehensive reuse and recycle economies. "If we want civilisation to survive, we will have to have that. Otherwise civilisation will collapse."

The example of China's future growth more than any other example I have come across shows that in terms of the global environment and consuming earth's resources we are really off course. Now this example is just talking about China's future consumption, there are other huge nations such as India (who soon will have a population higher than China's) who also will soon experience a similar development pattern. Earth's resources simply does not come even close to being able to support such consumption as will then be demanded if existing consumption levels are maintained. This clearly shows that in order to be successful the international environmental community and world leaders must engage the developing world and especially China and India in finding acceptable solutions to stop this consumption trend. And it must be done soon as time is quickly running out.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

World Watch Releases 2006 State of the Environment Report

To get a copy of the report go here: Global Footprint Network

"The dramatic rise of China and India presents one of the gravest threats - and greatest opportunities - facing the world today, says the WorldWatch Institute in its State of the World 2006 report. The choices these countries make in the next few years will lead the world either towards a future of growing ecological and political instability - or down a development path based on efficient technologies and better stewardship of resources."

"Rising demand for energy, food, and raw materials by 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians is already having ripple effects worldwide," says Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin.

NOTE: We as individuals must also do our share in changing our consumption pattern to a much more environmentally friendly pattern. THINK GREEN in everything you do and especially when making purchasing decisions (in most cases simply ask yourself: do I really need it?)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy New Year of the (Wild) Boar to All

I would like to wish everyone a big Happy Lunar New Year! The year of the boar (pig) is supposed to be a year of wealth and happiness for most Chinese animal signs. Maybe this year we can share this wealth with Earth and spend some of it on charities and volunteer organizations working towards a better and healthier planet. Or even better yet, make a decision to give some of your time to these organizations as many of them are looking for volunteers. One organization I personally would like to highlight is Acres in Singapore. They are doing a lot of valuable work drawing attention to the plight of animals, the illegal wildlife trade and animal welfare in general. Acres works to raise awareness on a variety of animal welfare issues and, as of May 2006 Acres had conducted more than 120 roadshows and/or educational talks throughout Singapore.

Acres aims are to:
- Foster respect and compassion for all animals.
- Improve the living conditions and welfare of animals in captivity.
- Educate people on lifestyle choices which do not involve the abuse of animals and which are environment-friendly.

You can visit their website at:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Group Photo From Hun Chun Nature Reserve

The official group photo from the training and survey trip to Hun Chun Nature Reserve. I am second from the left on the front row. The director, Dale Miquelle, is 4th from the left.

The whole experience from this 11 days endeavour was incredibly interesting to me, not only from a conservation viewpoint, but also from a political viewpoint. It was very interesting to observe how the Chinese approached conservation from a very different political angle to that of the Russians. It gave me some very useful insights into Chinese thinking on nature conservation and the management of nature reserves.

Tracking and Survey Training, China

The second part of the tiger and ungulate survey and tracking training took part in Hun Chun Nature Reserve in Northeast China from February 1 to 10, 2007. About 20 participants from both the reserve and WCS China took part in the training and surveys. Hun Chun NR is a long and thin nature reserve stretching along the Russian border all the way down to the North Korean border. It is in a beautiful area with many hills, creeks and rivers. The first picture is a view of North Korea just a short way from the border. The border goes along a river which can be seen to the right and center of the photo. The picture is taken from a hill just inside China looking southward. The second photo below shows me with China to the north on the exact same ridge. This specific transect along the N. Korean borde was done on the last day of the training and surveying. By that time we had finished about 30 transects in all for Hun Chun NR. On this transect we saw several fresh hare and Sikha deer tracks, but unfortunately no tiger or leopard tracks. Another important aspect of the work done along these transects was to mark by GPS and on the map any snares that were found. The snares were then removed. It is a sad fact that much of the wildlife in Northeast China is disappearing due to illegal snares. Along one transect a group of four people removed as many as 80 snares.

The transects were often as long as 15 km so it was a lot of hiking, often in deep snow. Although it was quite cumbersome it nevertheless was really worth the hard work as the participants learned a great deal about tracking and tiger and ungulate surveying methods, not to mention experiencing the great scenery and nature.

The Black Griffon (Aegypius monachus)

On January 31, 2007 on our way to the training in Northeast China while still on the Russian side of the border we came across a huge flock of Black Griffons. This vulture is becoming increasingly rare in Russia Far East and to see such a huge flock was indeed a sight to behold. I am an avid bird watcher, but have had few opportunities here in Russia so far. So this was doubly up exciting for me. Fortunately I had my camera with me and got several shots from the roadside. We counted at least 40 individuals. There were also a few eagles joining this huge party, but I have not as of yet been able to identify what specie(s) they were. When (if) I have identified the specie(s) I will post a follow up comment to this post.

UPDATE March 23, 2007:
The Black Griffon is a rare and endangered species included in the IUCN Red List and CITES II. A local nature organization here in Russia Far East, Phoenix Fund, has been working to conserve the dwindling population that is wintering in the southern portion of Primorskyi Krai. To learn more about their efforst check out this link: Black vultures conservation. Thanks for the information Alex.

For more information on the species refer to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Aegypius monachus

Tracking and Survey Training, Russia

WCS Russia have just completed a training course for representatives from China in how to conduct tiger and ungulate monitoring and tracking. Eight Chinese attended the training. The training was given to WCS China staff and representatives from Hun Chun Nature Reserve. Here John Goodrich is showing the group how WCS is tracking radio collared tigers and how to get an approximate location of the animal (in this case an adult female tiger). It was a very enthusiastic group that took part in the 3 day training program in Sikhote Allin Nature Reserve.

In the second picture my group is taking a lunch break after we have walked for about 6 km to track animals (I am the person closest to the tree). This day we found many tracks from various ungulates and even a set of relative fresh tiger tracks, probably a young male tiger. The next training session was held in China where we conducted tiger, leopard and ungulate monitoring and surveys along with the training for about 20 staff from WCS and Hun Chun Nature Reserve.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Evidence is now ‘unequivocal’ that humans are causing global warming – UN report

"2 February 2007 – Changes in the atmosphere, the oceans and glaciers and ice caps now show unequivocally that the world is warming due to human activities, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in new report released today in Paris".

Can the message to the world's leaders get any clearer than this? To see the full press release click here: UN Press Release: Evidence is now ‘unequivocal’ that humans are causing global warming – UN report

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Link of the Month: Professional Association for China's Environment

As some of you may have noticed I recently posted an article about the challenges (and potentially unique opportunities) to the global environment currently posed by China's strong economic development. One excellent website that I have been following for quite some time now for news on China's environment and sustainability issues is the Professional Association for China's Environment. On their website they write: "It is our belief that China on a path of green development is the greatest contribution to the global sustainability." I could not agree more.

Here one can find the latest news articles related to environmental issues in China. They also have updates on various related events taking place in China. One can also become a member and thus be able to take part in their forums. I can highly recommend this website for anyone interested in the green movement and environmentalism related to China.