China's spectacular economic growth over the past two decades
has dramatically depleted the country's natural resources and
produced skyrocketing rates of pollution. Environmental degradation
in China has also contributed to significant public health
problems, mass migration, economic loss, and social unrest. In
The River Runs Black, Elizabeth C. Economy examines
China's growing environmental crisis and its implications for the
country's future development.
Drawing on historical research, case studies, and interviews
with officials, scholars, and activists in China, Economy traces
the economic and political roots of China's environmental challenge
and the evolution of the leadership's response. She argues that
China's current approach to environmental protection mirrors the
one embraced for economic development: devolving authority to local
officials, opening the door to private actors, and inviting
participation from the international community, while retaining
only weak central control.
The result has been a patchwork of environmental protection in
which a few wealthy regions with strong leaders and international
ties improve their local environments, while most of the country
continues to deteriorate, sometimes suffering irrevocable damage.
Economy compares China's response with the experience of other
societies and sketches out several possible futures for the
This second edition of The River Runs Black is updated
with information about events between 2005 and 2009, covering
China's tumultuous transformation of its economy and its landscape
as it deals with the political implications of this behavior as
viewed by an international community ever more concerned about
climate change and dwindling energy resources.
Subjects: Political Science
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