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China's Environmental Crisis: Is There a Way Out

Patricia Adams

Patricia Adams is an economist and the executive director of Probe International, an independent think tank and a watchdog of the environmental consequences of Canadian government and corporate activities around the world. Her books include In the Name of Progress: The Underside of Foreign Aid (Doubleday 1985), and Odious Debts: Loose Lending, Corruption and the Third World’s Environmental Legacy (Earthscan 1991), which exposes the jeopardy of years of loose lending for both the environment of the Third World and its economy and proposes a legal remedy to place responsibility for the Third World’s debt crisis on the parties involved, instead of on First and Third World taxpayers. This legal remedy, known as the Doctrine of Odious Debts, gained worldwide prominence in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and is now dominating negotiations over the settlement of all Third World debts. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Bengali, Japanese, and Bahasa Indonesia. Adams is the publisher of internet news services Three Gorges Probe and Odious Debts Online. She also edited the English language translation of Yangtze! Yangtze!, the extraordinary critique by Chinese experts of the Three Gorges dam that inspired the democracy movement when it was first published in 1989, led to the postponement of the dam, and was subsequently banned by Chinese authorities.

Before coming to Probe International, Pat worked on a variety of development projects for the International Development Research Centre and Acres International. She taught economics in Jamaica with CUSO, advised the World Council of Churches’ energy program, and chaired the Nairobi-based Environment Liaison Centre, a coalition of 300 environmental and citizens’ groups from around the world. She is a co-founder of the International Rivers Network and the World Rainforest Movement and was an associate editor of the British magazine, The Ecologist.

Adams has appeared before executive, congressional and parliamentary committees in the United States, Canada and the European Union and has given speaking tours in the United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, and Chile. She has written editorial page articles for major daily newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, Guardian, New Statesman, and the Indian, Malaysian, and Jamaican press, and in Canada, the National Post, Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, Vancouver Sun, and Hamilton Spectator. Pat has also written commissioned pieces for Ralph Nader’s Multinational Monitor, the Cato Institute’s Policy Analysis, and the Canadian Institute of International Affair’s International Journal. She has appeared on many of Canada’s major radio and TV news and current affairs programs, including Canada AM, As It Happens, Ideas, Newsworld, Face Off, and Morningside. Outside Canada, she has appeared on British, Australian, French, American, Thai, and Japanese television and radio. 

Stevan Harrell

Stevan Harrell (Ph.D., Stanford University, 1974) is Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and Adjunct Professor of Chinese at the University of Washington. Among the nation’s top anthropologists of China and leader of Yi ethnic studies, Professor Harrell’s recent work has concentrated on the Chinese environment seen in the context of systems analysis and specifically resilience ecology. His empirical work, conducted in collaboration with earth scientists in both the US and China, concerns the relationship between local knowledge, human habitation, and the biophysical environment in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern Sichuan. He is also writing a more general work entitled An Ecohistory of People's China, which examines the history of China since 1949 in light of ecosystems analysis. Harrell has authored or edited fourteen books and dozens of scholarly articles. He is co-founder and president of the Cool Mountain Education Fund, a small charity that gives scholarships to graduates of the Yangjuan Primary School in Yanyuan County, which he helped found in 2000. He also served for many years as Curator of Asian Ethnology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle.

Kate Kaup 

Katherine Palmer Kaup (Kate) is the James B. Duke Professor of Asian Studies and Political Science at Furman University. She holds an A.B. from Princeton University and an M.A./Ph.D. in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, and has been teaching at Furman since 1997. She is the Principal Investigator for Furman University’s Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environmental grant and Director of the Riley Institute China Programs. Kaup's primary research focuses on ethnic minorities and rule of law developments in China, as well as human rights concerns. She is the author of Creating the Zhuang: Ethnic Politics in China, several articles and chapters on ethnic minorities, and editor and contributor to the textbook Understanding Contemporary Asia. Kaup served as special adviser for Minority Nationalities Affairs at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (2005), Chair of Furman’s Asian Studies Department (2006-2012), Public Intellectuals Fellow with the National Committee on United States-China Relations (2008-2011), Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Yunnan Nationalities University (2012-13), and PI/Program Director for several federally-funded Chinese language programs.

Andrew Mertha

Andrew Mertha (Ph.D., Michigan 2001) is Professor of Government at Cornell University, specializing in Chinese and Cambodian politics, particularly on political institutions, the policy process, and the exercise of power. He is a core faculty member in the Cornell East Asia Program and the Cornell Southeast Asia Program, and serves as Director of the China and Asia Pacific Studies Program. Mertha’s riveting book China’s Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change (Cornell University Press, 2008), is based on extensive fieldwork surrounding three environmental activist movements in southwest China. His book has garnered wide international attention from both academics and policy makers, and his conclusion have demanded reconsideration of major approaches to understanding the role of Chinese citizens in China’s authoritarian political system. Mertha’s first book, The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China (Cornell University Press, 2005), similarly bridges the gap between academic scholars and public policy makers. His most recent book Brothers in Arms: Chinese Aid to the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979 (Cornell University Press, 2014) and his study of the Khmer language have positioned him as one of the country’s few scholars of Cambodia-China relations. He is currently conducting comparative research on thought reform in China and Cambodia. His articles appear in The China Quarterly, Comparative Politics, International Organization, and Orbis.

Jennifer Turner

Jennifer Turner (Ph.D., Indiana University, 1997) has been the Director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center for 14 years. As director, she creates meetings, exchanges and publications focusing on a variety of energy and environmental challenges facing China, particularly on water, energy and climate challenges and U.S.- China clean energy cooperation. Some of her current and recent dialogues and research projects have also delved into the environmental footprint of Chinese overseas investment, environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and food safety.

Turner also serves as editor of the Wilson Center’s journal, the China Environment Series, which is distributed to over 5,000 business, government, NGO and researcher practitioners around the world who work on China’s energy and environmental issues.

Turner’s dissertation examined local government innovation in implementing water policies in the China. Her research focuses heavily on water-energy nexus issues and environmental activism in China.