What would a positive environmental scenario for China look like? We've talked a bit here about the massive ecological challenges that China faces over the coming years. Population growth, economic growth, and a history of not paying sufficient attention to the environmental results of development result in a nightmarish combination, one not easily reshaped. In short, China is a mess. Nonetheless, Elizabeth Economy, author of The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future, thinks that a more environmentally sustainable is possible.
In a brief essay for The Globalist web journal, Economy presents her take on a positive Chinese environmental scenario. (The article is excerpted from The River Runs Black; I'm definitely going to get my hands on a copy for review here.) The scenario is predicated upon a reasonable mix of solid economic growth, sound environmental policies, and supportive civil society; this seems to me to be the most likely combination leading to a sustainable China.
The article is brief, and the scenario suffers for it. The essay is more descriptive than analytical, providing a somewhat superficial overview of what the more environmentally sustainable China looks like without much discussion of how it got there. As a snapshot of a scenaric future, it's fine -- a plausible, reasonable vision of a functional, ecologically sound nation -- but it doesn't really tell us how to get there. Clearly I need to read the rest of the book to find what I'm looking for.