sustainaBLISSt

To care as ONE, to act as ONE, to protect as ONE, to be ONE

Sustainable Education & Cultural Understanding

Sustainability for youth means enabling them to envision a better future. If we know where we want to go then hopefully the ones who are inheriting our world can get there on the backs of those who have set the precedent to act sustainably.  Yet, our current education systems stamps out divergent thinking (generating creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions) with its rigid teaching styles and myopic focuses.  The classrooms of tomorrow need not bore and aggravate but empower to participate in decision-making and genuinely care by virtue of being informed.  This is a tall task but the more that genuine interest inspires their hearts not only to know but to act on knowledge, there is hope. Galvanizing cross-cultural bonding on the issue of sustainability in the information age is easier than ever but fights the drag of apathy.  The only way dreams get airborne is by crafting those small, day to day habits into signs of our authenticity and gratitude for the world.  Continued economic growth must be challenged as a tenet of the neoliberal mentality that disenfranchises those who already have little control. It is up to those that already have more means to fight against the doctrine that runaway growth is good. We pervasively delude ourselves into thinking that because everyone is acting unsustainably, its ok that I am too.  But this will only exacerbate the tragedy of the commons: Putting yet another piece of plastic into the ocean, polluting the sky by spewing a toxic fume that depletes our ozone layer and fuels global warming.  We trigger ecological disasters, ignorant of the delicate balance of interconnected ecosystems.  With are already absurd carbon-footprint, the least we can do is mitigate our damage and teach younger generations how to reverse the processes that got us here. 

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One answer lies in putting down the guns and picking up the ploughs.  The institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) believes that the U.S. and China must continue to work closely together to promote climate change activism.  The two countries have significant experience, technologies and services that can complement each other’s efforts to address energy and environmental challenges to promote low carbon development by taking advantage of expertise from a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations!

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Founded in 1999, Shanghai Roots & Shoots has carried out many successful programs for the environment, animals, and community involving youth. Past notable programs include YP Recycling 2004, Save the Siberian Tiger Program, and the Chimp Habitat Renovation Program.

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 Jazz quartet connects with Chinese youth: The cultural diplomacy program has partnered with New York City’s Jazz program at the Lincoln Center to send jazz musicians through seven Chinese cities as part of the ‘Rhythm Road’ to promote more sustainable relations and cultural bonding.  Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz performed at Guizhou Normal University in Guiyang, Guizhou province. Image

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Greenovate Environmental Challenge for Kids Outreach has empowered 50,000 Chinese youth ‘green ambassadors.’ It offers hands-on activities so students can use their creativity to learn about waste. They are encouraged to come up with concepts for crafts while learning how harmful plastic can be for the environment. 

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Sustainability & Income Inequality: The Caravan of Care

While discussing ‘income inequality’ might seem taboo, it is a reality that every country faces                                  and acknowledging it as facet of cultivating a more sustainable world is necessary responsibility.

Image

The ever-widening wealth gap in countries, including developed and developing countries                                                is reaching a critical stage. The wealthy should concern themselves with the communities                                        that facilitated their financial gains; as well as caring for the Earth itself which provided                                              the limited resources for that wealth. This situation highlights an ever-present need to                                                        facilitate positive engagement between wealthy individuals and less-endowed communities.                                       To this end, many social and charity projects have been set in motion over the years, and                                           the list now grows to include the Caravan of Care, an initiative launched by Philip McMaster.

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Organized under the McMaster Institute for Sustainable Development in Commerce,                                                the Care Caravan involves two stages of activities. The first stage is what McMaster calls                                         “an expedition to poorer communities”, in which participants are encouraged to commit                                       their own capabilities instead of just wealth to a social cause. Under guidance of a                                          relevant NGO, wealthy individuals that take part in the Caravan of Care will spend their                                        money and resources on acquiring supplies or commodities needed for specific                                                 communities. These acquired items are then be transported personally – and under                                                    protection of local authorities – in 4×4 vehicles to the target community, where the                                        participants will engage the locals in exchanges of commodities for information on                                                                indigenous culture and living conditions. Currently the Caravan of Care is still in a                                               nascent stage, having run a single pilot in Sichuan, China. The expedition involved                                                   3 main vehicles and 2 support vehicles, with a team of 16 people including                                                                  personnel from collaborating NGO, the Global Village Beijing, and was received                                                        warmly by locals. Going forward, McMaster is confident that the project will gain traction.

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Sharing is a key experience for the Caravan of Care,” says McMaster. “Participants do                                                    not give out money – they share equipment, supplies, stories and experience and learn                                                           what the actual needs are among these communities and people they engage with.”                                                  Upon returning from the expedition, the participants will be immediately interviewed on                                         their experience. This is followed by a gala event a few days later, during which the                                                exploits of the participants will be rewarded. “They will be given certificates as a sign                                               of recognition, and the videos recording their expeditions will be shown,” says McMaster.                                            “We want to create a ripple effect whereby other similarly wealthy individuals attending                                                the event will be inspired by an emotionally satisfying experience to emulate similar actions.”                                      As more individuals or entities are incentivized to join the Caravan of Care, the program can                                            be further incorporated into existing charity and social projects run by governmental and                                            non-governmental organizations as well as corporations to ensure a larger scale and greater                           efficiency!

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“The challenge now is to have wealthy individuals realize that this is an opportunity for                                            them to take actions and create a positive impact on humanity. I do not think this is a                                               difficult challenge.” At the same time, McMaster also stresses that the Caravan of Care                                                        is not just about the rich helping the poor, although that is a crucial part of the program.                                                “It is really more about helping to improve the standards of living. Hence, target communities                                       do not have to be impoverished. Rather, they have to have specific needs to address.                                                   In helping to address these needs, the program also delivers happiness.”  In this respect,                                           the Caravan of Care is consistent with the global trend of incorporating happiness as part                                          of the policy metrics in various countries, as is highlighted by China’s new 5-year plan. 

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Philip McMaster (center) shares the Symbol of the Caravan Of Care, the 3 Finger                                                    “Peace Plus One” Sustainability Salute with, from left to right: Liu Hong, Emmanuel                                             Daniel Founder and President of The Asian Banker Magazine, Sustainability Ambassador                                            Ms. Jenny Zheng Jiaoli, Mr. Gboyega Songonuga Regional Head, Africa IFC,                                                      Vincent O’Brien, Chair, ICC Banking Commission Market Intelligence Group,                                                                          at the Banking Commission Meeting & ICC Trade Finance Summit in Beijing.

Leave a comment »

Sustainability & Income Inequality: The Caravan of Care

While discussing ‘income inequality’ might seem taboo, it is a reality that every country faces                                  and acknowledging it as facet of cultivating a more sustainable world is necessary responsibility.

Image

The ever-widening wealth gap in countries, including developed and developing countries                                                is reaching a critical stage. The wealthy should concern themselves with the communities                                        that facilitated their financial gains; as well as caring for the Earth itself which provided                                              the limited resources for that wealth. This situation highlights an ever-present need to                                                        facilitate positive engagement between wealthy individuals and less-endowed communities.                                       To this end, many social and charity projects have been set in motion over the years, and                                           the list now grows to include the Caravan of Care, an initiative launched by Philip McMaster.

Image

 

Organized under the McMaster Institute for Sustainable Development in Commerce,                                                the Care Caravan involves two stages of activities. The first stage is what McMaster calls                                         “an expedition to poorer communities”, in which participants are encouraged to commit                                       their own capabilities instead of just wealth to a social cause. Under guidance of a                                          relevant NGO, wealthy individuals that take part in the Caravan of Care will spend their                                        money and resources on acquiring supplies or commodities needed for specific                                                 communities. These acquired items are then be transported personally – and under                                                    protection of local authorities – in 4×4 vehicles to the target community, where the                                        participants will engage the locals in exchanges of commodities for information on                                                                indigenous culture and living conditions. Currently the Caravan of Care is still in a                                               nascent stage, having run a single pilot in Sichuan, China. The expedition involved                                                   3 main vehicles and 2 support vehicles, with a team of 16 people including                                                                  personnel from collaborating NGO, the Global Village Beijing, and was received                                                        warmly by locals. Going forward, McMaster is confident that the project will gain traction.

Image

 

Sharing is a key experience for the Caravan of Care,” says McMaster. “Participants do                                                    not give out money – they share equipment, supplies, stories and experience and learn                                                           what the actual needs are among these communities and people they engage with.”                                                  Upon returning from the expedition, the participants will be immediately interviewed on                                         their experience. This is followed by a gala event a few days later, during which the                                                exploits of the participants will be rewarded. “They will be given certificates as a sign                                               of recognition, and the videos recording their expeditions will be shown,” says McMaster.                                            “We want to create a ripple effect whereby other similarly wealthy individuals attending                                                the event will be inspired by an emotionally satisfying experience to emulate similar actions.”                                      As more individuals or entities are incentivized to join the Caravan of Care, the program can                                            be further incorporated into existing charity and social projects run by governmental and                                            non-governmental organizations as well as corporations to ensure a larger scale and greater                           efficiency!

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“The challenge now is to have wealthy individuals realize that this is an opportunity for                                            them to take actions and create a positive impact on humanity. I do not think this is a                                               difficult challenge.” At the same time, McMaster also stresses that the Caravan of Care                                                        is not just about the rich helping the poor, although that is a crucial part of the program.                                                “It is really more about helping to improve the standards of living. Hence, target communities                                       do not have to be impoverished. Rather, they have to have specific needs to address.                                                   In helping to address these needs, the program also delivers happiness.”  In this respect,                                           the Caravan of Care is consistent with the global trend of incorporating happiness as part                                          of the policy metrics in various countries, as is highlighted by China’s new 5-year plan. 

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Philip McMaster (center) shares the Symbol of the Caravan Of Care, the 3 Finger                                                    “Peace Plus One” Sustainability Salute with, from left to right: Liu Hong, Emmanuel                                             Daniel Founder and President of The Asian Banker Magazine, Sustainability Ambassador                                            Ms. Jenny Zheng Jiaoli, Mr. Gboyega Songonuga Regional Head, Africa IFC,                                                      Vincent O’Brien, Chair, ICC Banking Commission Market Intelligence Group,                                                                          at the Banking Commission Meeting & ICC Trade Finance Summit in Beijing.

Leave a comment »

Sustainability & Income Inequality: The Caravan of Care

While discussing ‘income inequality’ might seem taboo, it is a reality that every country faces                                  and acknowledging it as facet of cultivating a more sustainable world is necessary responsibility.

Image

The ever-widening wealth gap in countries, including developed and developing countries                                                is reaching a critical stage. The wealthy should concern themselves with the communities                                        that facilitated their financial gains; as well as caring for the Earth itself which provided                                              the limited resources for that wealth. This situation highlights an ever-present need to                                                        facilitate positive engagement between wealthy individuals and less-endowed communities.                                       To this end, many social and charity projects have been set in motion over the years, and                                           the list now grows to include the Caravan of Care, an initiative launched by Philip McMaster.

Image

 

Organized under the McMaster Institute for Sustainable Development in Commerce,                                                the Care Caravan involves two stages of activities. The first stage is what McMaster calls                                         “an expedition to poorer communities”, in which participants are encouraged to commit                                       their own capabilities instead of just wealth to a social cause. Under guidance of a                                          relevant NGO, wealthy individuals that take part in the Caravan of Care will spend their                                        money and resources on acquiring supplies or commodities needed for specific                                                 communities. These acquired items are then be transported personally – and under                                                    protection of local authorities – in 4×4 vehicles to the target community, where the                                        participants will engage the locals in exchanges of commodities for information on                                                                indigenous culture and living conditions. Currently the Caravan of Care is still in a                                               nascent stage, having run a single pilot in Sichuan, China. The expedition involved                                                   3 main vehicles and 2 support vehicles, with a team of 16 people including                                                                  personnel from collaborating NGO, the Global Village Beijing, and was received                                                        warmly by locals. Going forward, McMaster is confident that the project will gain traction.

Image

 

Sharing is a key experience for the Caravan of Care,” says McMaster. “Participants do                                                    not give out money – they share equipment, supplies, stories and experience and learn                                                           what the actual needs are among these communities and people they engage with.”                                                  Upon returning from the expedition, the participants will be immediately interviewed on                                         their experience. This is followed by a gala event a few days later, during which the                                                exploits of the participants will be rewarded. “They will be given certificates as a sign                                               of recognition, and the videos recording their expeditions will be shown,” says McMaster.                                            “We want to create a ripple effect whereby other similarly wealthy individuals attending                                                the event will be inspired by an emotionally satisfying experience to emulate similar actions.”                                      As more individuals or entities are incentivized to join the Caravan of Care, the program can                                            be further incorporated into existing charity and social projects run by governmental and                                            non-governmental organizations as well as corporations to ensure a larger scale and greater                           efficiency!

Image

“The challenge now is to have wealthy individuals realize that this is an opportunity for                                            them to take actions and create a positive impact on humanity. I do not think this is a                                               difficult challenge.” At the same time, McMaster also stresses that the Caravan of Care                                                        is not just about the rich helping the poor, although that is a crucial part of the program.                                                “It is really more about helping to improve the standards of living. Hence, target communities                                       do not have to be impoverished. Rather, they have to have specific needs to address.                                                   In helping to address these needs, the program also delivers happiness.”  In this respect,                                           the Caravan of Care is consistent with the global trend of incorporating happiness as part                                          of the policy metrics in various countries, as is highlighted by China’s new 5-year plan. 

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Philip McMaster (center) shares the Symbol of the Caravan Of Care, the 3 Finger                                                    “Peace Plus One” Sustainability Salute with, from left to right: Liu Hong, Emmanuel                                             Daniel Founder and President of The Asian Banker Magazine, Sustainability Ambassador                                            Ms. Jenny Zheng Jiaoli, Mr. Gboyega Songonuga Regional Head, Africa IFC,                                                      Vincent O’Brien, Chair, ICC Banking Commission Market Intelligence Group,                                                                          at the Banking Commission Meeting & ICC Trade Finance Summit in Beijing.

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The Future is Here: Model Environmental Communities in China!

Following the call for a “greener” community in China’s                                                                                12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), “sustainable architecture”                                                                           has become the latest fashion here to stay. Tianjin Eco-City                                                                             marks a new era in the way in which people will live!

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Construction began in 2008 on the Tianjin Eco-City, a 30 square kilometer                                                     development designed to showcase the newest green technologies and                                                                   to serve as a model for future developing Chinese cities.

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Designed by Surbana Urban Planning Group, the city is being built 10                                                                 minutes away from the business parks at the Tianjin Economic-Development                                                       Area, an easy commute with its advanced light rail transit system.

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The community’s expected 350,000 residents will be able to choose diferent landscapes                                  ranging from a sun-powered solarscape to a greenery-clad earthscape pictured above.

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Its strategic location makes the Tianjin Eco-City  poised to realize its                                                                       vision to be a center for eco-activities and businesses that will involve                                                                              companies that provide services in green financing, energy efficiency                                                                      consultancy and eco-solutions.

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The Taoyuan Model Eco-Community will develop around the Yuan River in Hunan Province.                                       The Yuan River is a lush zone of biodiversity, the natural habitat of thousands of native plants                                and animals, including the Qiusha Duck, a class-one endangered species. The Taoyuan MEC                                   will address the economic and social welfare of the community through: 1) formation of a chicken                              farming cooperative, 2) initiating an ecotourism program  3) establishment of a community center                               offering healthcare, environmental and life skills trainings and 4) rebuilding and education and                        healthcare facilities. The goal is to preserve the diverse natural habitat of the Yuan River while                                   at the same time empowering the rural community to become economically viable through                              sustainable means. Now that’s what I call SEEing Society, Environment and Economy as                                                 the triple bottom-line considering People, Planet and Profit!

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The Germany-based company Knauf, a leading producer of gypsum boards, opened                                                 its fourth plant in Taicang, Jiangsu province this year!  The company contributed to 75                                              percent of the projects in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and supplied plasterboard                                    products to 15 pavilions at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. As China becomes more and more                                 urbanized, people are ready to raise the standard of living. The use of plasterboard in                                              housing is increasing as construction companies move away from brick-framed buildings                                           to timber- and steel-framed buildings. Its raw material, gypsum, is a type of rock more                                              than 200 million years old that weighs little and is flexible!

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Sustainable Health & Fitness

Large-scale Tai Chi exercising and synchronized dancing are                                                                              common in Chinese cities! The practice of Tai Chi enables the                                                                            healthy flow of energy through the body. Enhanced by a calm                                                                              mind that Tai Chi brings to the body, the practice is renowned                                                                               for curing so many “incurable” diseases and conditions.

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People perform a gymnastics routine on August 08, 2011 in Chengdu,                                                              Sichuan Province to mark National Fitness Day.

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Olympian environmental advocacy: Yao Ming, who once played for the Shanghai                                              Sharks, has spoken out against the hunting of sharks for their fins, an expensive delicacy.

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 The powerful antioxidants in green tea, which originated                                                                                            in China, have many healthy affects for sufferers of heart                                                                               disease, arthritis and cancer.

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Chinese medicine has gained increasing worldwide popularity for treating                                                                   a variety of diseases, ailments and symptoms using over 6,000 herbs,                                                                 1,000 animal and mineral products, acupuncture, cupping and massage                                                                  to heal the inner and outside body.

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Businessman philanthropist Chen Guangbiao shows his moves on a                                                                       bicycle in Yuetan Stadium in Beijing. Chen provided 2,000 bikes free                                                                            of charge to schools and communities in a campaign to promote a                                                                       low-carbon lifestyle. Bike riding lowers pollution, which costs China                                                                        an estimated $100 billion in health costs associated with respiratory                                                                         ills, according to the World Bank.

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Ego vs. Nature   Lets turn the tide!

 

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Sustainable Air & Water Initiatives on the Rise in China

 

The average Chinese citizen is responsible for a fraction of the greenhouse emissions of the average American—and the country is not bound by any international treaty to reduce its emissions. While pollution is a massive problem, one collaborative, six-year study of carbon dioxide levels in Beijing and surrounding provinces suggests that combustion efficiency, a component of overall energy efficiency, is improving in the region.

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The Water purification business is growing as over 30 million residential water purification systems were sold last year in China. It created sales revenue of 30 billion yuan ($4.76 billion), according to data from the China Water Purification Association.

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Officials from the health and epidemic prevention station of Harbin municipal government exame a water purifier at a store Heilongjiang province. Chinese people’s increased awareness of the quality of the water they drink daily is stimulating demand for water purifying products.

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Launched in 1978, China’s massive tree-planting program covers 42% of China’s landmass and will be the biggest man-made carbon sponge on the planet by 2050. Chinese volunteers have planted about 58.9 billion trees across the country, increasing China’s forest cover from 12% to 18% in two decades. 

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Between 2009 and 2010, employees at Jiangmen Yi Xin Tanning Company Limited (“Yi Xin”) have planted nearly 2,000 larch seedlings on the mountain slopes surrounding their factory!

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Sustainable Food & China

There’s quite the list of benefits from eating right! “Diets have a decisive influence on health and more people have realized this,” says Tian Yongsheng, a food safety researcher. The number of people dying from heart disease will decrease if there’s more people opting for vegetarian food. The rising trend of vegetarian food in major cities show that more Chinese people are returning to a healthier way of living.”

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    Actress Gao Yuanyuan   “Let Vegetarianism Grow on you!”

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“Most vegetarian restaurants offer delicious food. Some of them taste even better than meat. I like to my spend afternoons here, where I can find peace,” says 30-year-old university research assistant Cui Xianglan, who became a vegetarian food advocate four years ago.”

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The Nanjing Global Organic Food Research & Consulting Center has established that organic farming is booming in China and can meet the demand of mega-food systems. To ensure this, environmental consciousness, ensuring high quality and price suitability are important for facilitating organic food consumption on a mass-scale. 

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Sustainable Energy & China

 

 

With ever increasing world demand and scarcity, China has become more dedicated to economic development and societal harmony dependent on renewable energy. Abundant and cheap energy is the engine of growth driving progress. The CCP’s promotion of wind and solar energy technologies has set a stunning example for other developing countries. The Chinese Government has worked out relevant policies while its business sector has developed relevant techniques. China has decisively steered towards cleaner and sustainable energy, and this tendency is likely to speed up.

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 Suntech is the world’s largest producer of solar panels with 1,800MW of annual production                                   capacity by the end of 2010. With offices or production facilities in every major market,                                     Suntech has delivered more than 13,000,000 solar panels to thousands of companies in                                         more than 80 countries around the world.

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China erects 36 wind turbines a day and is building a robust new electricity grid to send                                             this power thousands of miles across the country from the deserts of the west to the                                          cities of the east. It is part of a long-term plan to supply 15% of the country’s energy from                            alternative and renewable sources by 2020.

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The company, Whale Power, has redesigned the typically smooth                                                                       blades on a turbine, adding a series of ridges, based on tubercles,                                                                        the bumps on humpback whale fins. The company says this new                                                                  blade design can increase annual electrical production by 20% by                                                                  retrofitting existing wind farms.

This technology uses Constructal theory, an evolutionary principle                                                                       stating that we can design devices for human use based on the                                                                    occurrence of that design in nature! Breaking the traditional boundaries                                                                     between biology, physics, geology, it describes how flow systems like                                                          organisms, river basins and even Beijing changing through time.                                                                      Constructal theory says that for any of these flow systems to persist,                                                                  to sustain, or survive, they must be structured (architecturally designed)                                                                    in such a way that the things within that system increasingly get to where                                                            they need to go. This gives shape and structure to everything that evolves                                                           over time.

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According to the UNFCCC database, by November 2011,                                                                                          China was the leading host nation for Clean Development                                                                           Mechanisms (CDM) projects with 1661 projects (46.32%)                                                                                           of a total of 3586 registered project activities.

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Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will reach about                                                                                            10 percent of the Chinese new car market by 2020.                                                                                          Chinese BYD Auto has released the first mass-produced                                                                                   electric car model in the world!

While China still has many strides to make for sustainability,                                                                                     these are all encouraging signs that we can globally move                                                                                               toward embracing renewable resource and be optimistic about                                                                                         saving the planet!

 

 

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Sustainable Environment in China

People may have the misconception that China is its big cities, and while urban centers do comprise a large part of the population, the beauty of its countryside is unparalleled.

 

Dubbed as the “Soul of Guilin,” the Lijiang River is flanked by majestically shaped mountains on both its banks reminiscent of the floating islands from Avatar. The World Bank financed a project to protect the environment on both sides of the river, which will be completed in three years at a cost 61.3 million yuan (USD $7.39 million). Workers have already built protection facilities and planted trees along 5,922 meters of Lijiang River to conserve this highly popular eco-tourist destination.

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Jiuzhaigou is a breathtaking alpine valley discovered by lumberjacks in the 1970s. It is over 320 meters wide! On the World Natural Heritage List and the UNESCO list, it is a nature reserve with takins, snub-nosed monkeys and giant pandas.

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Founded in 1994, Friends of Nature (FON) is the oldest environmental NGO in China citizens. FON promotes environmental awareness and remains committed to helping its members proactively undertake their responsibilities and actions as green citizens and consumers. FON has its own Mountain Hiking Club, Birdwatching Club, Botany Club and even its own Choir Club to advocate living a low-carbon lifestyle!

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In Beijing, China Youth Climate Action Network cohosted the International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change in July in part to convince Chinese colleges to reduce their emissions by 20 percent by 2012! Pretty ambitious right!?

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