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When A Billion Chinese Jump: How China Will Save Mankind -- Or Destroy It Paperback – October 26, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
China is fashionable. They all write about it, China will be dominant, will threaten all our jobs, will collaps.... Never is there a book that simply says 'China will continue to muddle through'.
This book mostly falls into the dystopian category. China is the refuge of last resort for all poisonous garbage of the world. China will consume enough coal to singlehandedly convert the world into a greenhouse. Etc. etc. The author tries valiantly to be evenhanded. He acknowledges that the rest of the world have outsourced their environmental problems to China. Many dirty industries in richer countries have not been cleaned up, they have been closed down. Thus the West has become greener and now scolds China for being dirty. The author also acknowledges the gargantuan efforts China has undertaken to clean up its environment.
Thus he is surprisingly fair and evenhanded. Yet in the end basically his vision is a dark one. China will not be able to handle its environmental problems and thus will become a major desaster zone. Like so often, he simply extrapolates the present into the future, not taking into account that humans react to changing circumstances and have been surprisingly adept at dealing with changing circumstances.
Nevertheless the book provides a compelling picture of a China in flux, a nation which tries to find its path. And, as mentioned before, he also makes it very clear that China is not the only culprit for the environmental impact it has.
I didn't appreciate that while we were busy planting trees on our road projects, that they came from but two types of poplars and the lack of biodiversity is having a major negative impact on the bird life. While I saw the grim conditions of many workers, I didn't know that much of what we recycle in the west ends up in these dark, dank factories in China where it is processed with no regard to the workers or the environment. I knew that by building improved infrastructure we were permitting factories to relocate inland, but I didn't appreciate that this was also transferring the pollution problem inland. I always was worried about the quality of the vegetables and other products, now I see that there was good cause to be.
After cataloging the litany of problems faced by China, the author turns to the possibilities in terms of the adoption of green technologies, etc. Unfortunately, against the backdrop of the problems one has to wonder whether China has passed a point of no return with addressing its environmental issues. I do hope not, but the signs are not good.
This is a must read book for anyone involved with development in China, or who are interested in the environment and sustainability. Both fascinating and disturbing, the author deserves credit for the breadth and scope of his work.
Extensively researched, heavily annotated, this book offers stunningly detailed notes on Chinese culture and history. You'll encounter here, by turn, the country's contemporary pop icons, novelists, national park directors, along with a little Confucius and sayings of Chairman Mao. Jonathan Watts' work traverses travelogue, historical account, anthropological study, environmental reporting, and socio-political commentary. (Until the 1990s, signs on cages in the Beijing Zoo described what parts of the animal could be eaten, or used in Chinese medicine. . . . Under contentious study is whether Sichuan's mega-dams contributed to its recent earthquake . . . Land development follows the "US model of suburban villas and car commutes," etc.) The wonder is that Watts accomplishes all this in about 300 pages (not counting another 100, or so, of fine-print notes and references).
This is a must-read for anyone making a study of China, or planning travel there.
But beyond that, what's it got to do with the rest of us? It's on that score that this book is particularly powerful and significant. He reports, yes, how the Developed World outsources the darker consequences of its consumption--beginning a chapter with the image of a plastic bag (recycled!) from a Western grocery chain, billowing atop a Chinese schoolyard tree. But more: Watts describes the impacts of a China that is simply in the vanguard of any society now pursuing economic development and wealth, while being largely heedless of the welfare of its environment and people. And that might include more of us than just the Chinese . . . .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Timely heat wave in Shanghai the week of August 5, 2013..
Journalist describes travels to all areas of China and the damage to the environment to both people and nature by... Read more
I have read a lot about the Chinese economy and this book provides a great overview of the current issues China faces. Well worth a read.Published on May 19, 2013 by Azman
This book reviews the pollution issues in many of the far ranging districts of China. All I can say is that I hope China is able get their arms around this before it gets any... Read morePublished on April 21, 2013 by Non PC
Definately for the person with an interest in China and it's impact on our environment.Leaves you with the impression that the damage has been done.Published on January 25, 2013 by Lady L
I bought it for my college writing seminar. This book is new and the delivery is fast. I think it's a great book regarding its content and topics. highly recommended.Published on October 4, 2012 by lclc1993
Great book. Very thorough. Disturbing stories from all over China about the environmental disasters that are occuring in much of the country. Read morePublished on August 12, 2012 by Matt
This was an intriguing story of China, a superpower with billions of citizens, even so many that you can just guess what is the total number of its citizens. Read morePublished on May 20, 2012 by A&D