Pollutants in the deep-ocean food web

Scientists say the concentrations of pollutants they documented in deep-sea squid are surprising?

Research published online May 22 in Marine Pollution Bulletin presents new evidence that human-made contaminants are finding their way into the deepest parts of the ocean. The paper is one of the first reports of persistent organic pollutant uptake by deep-sea mollusks, an important part of the marine food chain.

This deep-sea mollusk, <em>Histioteuthis reversa</em>, is called the jewel squid because of its many photophores, or light-producing organs, which appear as dark dots on its skin.

MICHAEL VECCHIONE, NOAA/NMFS
This deep-sea mollusk, Histioteuthis reversa, is called the jewel squid because of its many photophores, or light-producing organs, which appear as dark dots on its skin.

A team of researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) collected nine species of cephalopods, a class of organisms that includes octopods, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiluses, from depths between 1000 and 2000 meters (about 3300 to 6600 feet) in 2003 in the western North Atlantic Ocean. The team selected species for chemical analysis on the basis of their importance as prey and analyzed specimens for 11 classes of anthropogenic chemical contaminants. The compounds the researchers detected include DDT, PAHs, PCBs, PBDEs, tributyltin, and toxaphene.

“It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment,” says coauthor Michael Vecchione of NMFS.

Although scientists have previously looked for persistent organic pollutants in deep-sea fish, there is little information on such chemicals in deep-sea cephalopods. The large variety of contaminants that the scientists reported in the new paper makes it “apparent that contamination of the deep-sea oceanic food web is occurring,” they write.

“The cephalopod species we analyzed span a wide range of sizes and represent an important component of the oceanic food web,” Vecchione says. He explains that he and his colleagues initiated the study in response to recent reports documenting the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants in the blubber and tissues of whales and other predatory marine mammals as well as in some deep-sea fish. The researchers set out to determine whether whales have a unique capacity to accumulate pollutants or are simply one of the top predators in a contaminated deep-sea food web. The finding that cephalopod tissues contained some of the same compounds that have been reported to bioaccumulate in marine mammals points to the latter hypothesis.

“Contamination of the deep-sea food web is happening, and it is a real concern,” Vecchione concludes.

ScienceShots

ScienceShots

  • Antarctic iceCrash! In one doomsday scenario, global warming triggers titanic chunks of ice to break and slide off the Antarctic landmass, causing sea levels to rise by meters. The surrounding Antarctic ice shelf has been splitting over the past 2 decades–but is this a harbinger of doom or just part of some natural cycle? Researchers using underwater acoustic sensors originally designed to detect nuclear explosions have listened to the grinding and cracking of the ice, and they have now determined that–at least over the past 7 years–there has been no increase in Antarctic ice shelf break-up. The results, reported this week at the Acoustics 2008 meeting in Paris, France, provide a baseline for the rate of Antarctic splitting. The question now is whether it will increase as the temperature rises.

江苏省政府安排专项经费技术攻关污水处理厂提标改造

一项为江苏省太湖流域169座城镇污水处理厂“提标”改造提供技术支撑的技术攻关及示范科研项目,近日,正在紧锣密鼓全面铺开。这项由江苏省政府专项安排2000多万元专项经费进行的除磷脱氮技术攻关,共设10个课题项目,项目大半“花落无锡”。今年6月底之前,完成的攻关成果,将对现有的污水厂和新建污水厂“提标升级”,起到实实在在的指导作用。
  根据国家和省太湖流域水污染防治工作的要求,在2008年底之前,江苏省需完成对太湖流域139个已投运、30个在建的城镇污水处理厂全面进行除磷脱氮改造,总规模365万吨/日,约需投资27亿元。据悉,这次太湖流域所有城镇污水处理厂都将要执行的最为严格的排放标准,与原先的排放标准相比,COD排放标准限值将由原先的60~120毫克/升,提高到50~60毫克/升;氨氮排放标准限值将由原先的15毫克/升,提高到5毫克/升;总磷排放标准限值将由原先的1毫克/升,提高到0.5毫克/升。通过这次“提标升级”,将进一步压减太湖流域的排污总量。尤其是169座污水处理厂全面除磷脱氮“提标”后,有助于改善太湖湖体的富营养化程度。
  由于江苏省太湖流域这项除磷脱氮“提标”工作走在全国前列,加上现有的污水厂的处理工艺不尽相同。为确保这次大规模除磷脱氮改造技术和设备的经济适用,并在规定时间内完成污水厂“提标升级”,江苏省政府拨出专项资金开展10个课题的技术攻关,课题框架中还考虑了城镇污水厂进水中的氮、磷污染物来源研究以及后续把关的生态处理技术研究等。
  无锡市在污水除磷脱氮及生态处理方面已进行了大量的实验,积累了相当经验,人工湿地项目更是先行一步,因此,有6个招投标项目“花落无锡”。目前6个课题已全部进入开题报告阶段,攻关成果将为下半年太湖流域众多污水厂改造,提供多种方案及成本、耗能方面的数据,可供污水处理厂自行选择改造方案。

业务

* 水处理技术开发及工程设计(给排水乙级资质)

* 环境规划与影响评价(环境影响评价甲级资质);

* 水资源论证(水文、水资源调查评价甲级资质);

* 污染环境修复以及资源综合利用;

* 清洁生产与风险评价;

* 环境质量监测、检测;

* 环境保护科技咨询;

* 环境保护相关领域专业翻译;

* 环境保护教育与培训。

 

古力特心中历史最佳11人:超级锋线 球王非他莫属

古力特心中历史最佳11人:超级锋线球王非他莫属

  新浪体育讯 足坛巨星古力特接受英国《442》杂志邀请,评出了自己心中的历史最佳11人阵容。

  守门员:舒梅切尔

  他在球门前有着巨大的影响力,而且让人随时感到他的存在,这是他的优势。无论什么时候我和他交锋时,他都是一个很难击败的守门员。他不仅仅在曼联踢得好,1992年欧洲杯上他代表丹麦赢得了冠军,也展示出自己在国家队舞台上也是最好的。

  右后卫:曼弗雷德-卡尔茨

  在80年代他为汉堡踢球,因为香蕉球传中而闻名,他的传中有非常大的旋转,非常难防守,而前锋们利用这种传球可以很轻易的破门。他也是最早的攻击型边后卫之一,他几乎发明了进攻边后卫这个概念,远在卡福和卡洛斯之前。而且他还非常擅长主罚定位球。

  中后卫:巴雷西

  后防线上的领袖,非常强壮和迅捷,而且对比赛有着非凡的理解。作为一个后卫,他可以做到一切,很多时候,他对前锋们跑位的了解,就像他就是那个前锋一样!你怎么能越过这样的防守者呢?

  中后卫:德塞利

  一个非常强壮的后卫,在空中十分优秀,这是你所需要的。他还有速度和爆发力,能让前锋们慌乱的做动作从而犯错误。他不是一个绝对的领袖,但却是一个非常有经验的后卫,他能很好的和巴雷西合作。

  左后卫:马尔蒂尼

  历史上最好的球员之一,他现在还在比赛,这表明了他有着多么好的运动天赋。不过和其他的伟大边后卫不同,当他只防守或者只进攻时,都不是世界级的,可作为一个边后卫,他却能同时做到这两样,而且综合起来比其他多数人都好。他还是一个优秀的中后卫。

  右前卫:卡卡

  有着优秀的速度和天赋,是我见过不多的能在带球时比不带球还快的几个人之一。他还有很好的视野,能让队友也发挥的很好,而让对手很糟糕。目前,他绝对是世界上最好的选手之一。

  中前卫:里杰卡尔德

  一个有着视野和力量的优秀防守型中场,我在俱乐部和国家队和他一起效力了很多年,他是最好的之一。他靠着自己的影响力、力量和技术统治着中场,他会帮助球队发起进攻,而确保其他球队不对防线进行突击。他给所在的任何球队都带来了平衡。

  中前卫:马拉多纳

  我还需要给理由吗?有史以来最好的球员,比贝利更好。在意大利,我每周都近距离看他踢球,他比其他任何人都高一个档次,他做的一些动作令人难以置信。他可以不用看就能在脚下控球,这意味着他能比任何人都更快的预见到发生的一切,并且最快的做出决定。

  左前卫:戴维-库珀

  在欧洲冠军杯上我和他交锋过,当时他为格拉斯哥流浪者队效力,他是一个真正有技术的球员,令人难以置信的技术。他并没有太快的速度,但他的盘带太好了,能给队友创造大量机会,自己也打进了一些好球。前锋:克鲁伊夫

  他有着一切素质。视野、态度、影响力,而且很灵活。当对手试图踢他,他会总先预判到,然后及时的移动,后卫根本碰不到他。他可以成为中锋身后的活动者,但他本身也是一个非常高效的射手。

  前锋:巴斯滕

  在空中很强壮,而且能给自己创造进球机会。虽然他很高,但很灵活,可以很聪明的转身以及做一切动作。头球、倒勾、凌空、一切。他也是一个以牙还牙的球员,如果后卫们踢他,他会回敬踢他们。在场上,他知道怎么处理一切。

  主教练

  弗格森

  肯定是弗格森,因为他的经历、他的成就,无论是在球场上还是在生活中。

  替补

  齐达内

  最近十多年里最好的球员,他可以控制比赛,而且重要的是,他在关键时刻总会有所表现。

  罗纳尔迪尼奥

  又是一个灵活多变的球员,他的一些动作令人难以置信。我不知道他是否愿意和齐达内一起坐在板凳上。

  罗伊-基恩

  优秀的防守中场,在场上还是一个领袖,又一个我非常喜欢的球员。

  科曼

  一个好后卫,另外和其他一些优秀球员一样,是一个天生的领袖。靠着任意球,他能在关键时刻破门,这给球队带来了很大的便利。

  范德萨

  对一些人来说,我选他也许有点意外,但我非常喜欢他,一个优秀门将。

发表论文

发表论文

Internationally Referred Journal Paper

l        Li Yi  & Chao Wang (2008) Phenol biodegradation in hybrid hollow-fiber membrane Bioreactors, World J. Microbiol. and Biotechnol. 24:1843–1849.

l         Chao Wang & Li Yi (2007) Incorporation of granular activated carbon in an immobilized membrane bioreactor for the biodegradation of phenol by Pseudomonas putida, Biotech. Lett., 29:13531356.

l        Li Yi, Hongying Hu, Qianyuan Wu (2007) Isolation and Characterization of Psychrotrophic Nitrobenzene-Degrading Strains from River Sediments, Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 79 (3): 340-344.

l        Li Yi & Loh KaiChe (2007), Continuous phenol degradation at high concentrations by immobilized pseudomonas putida, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 105:1732-1739.

l        Li Yi & Loh KaiChee (2007), Hybrid hollow fiber membrane bioreactore for cometabolic transformation of cometabolic transformation of 4-chlorophenol in the presence of phenol. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 133 (4): 232-237.

l        Li Yi & Loh KaiChee (2006), Continuous biotransformation of 4
-chlorophenol in the presence of phenol in hollow fiber membrane bioreactors. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 132(10): 309-314.

l        Li Yi & Loh KaiChee (2006), Fabrication of hybrid hollow fiber membrane for cell immobilization to degrade phenol and 4-cp. Journal of Membrane Science, 276: 81-90.

l        Li Yi & Loh KaiChee (2005), Cometabolic transformation of high concentrations of 4-chlorophenol in hollow fiber membrane bioreactors. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 131(9):1285-1292.

l        Li Yi & Wang Chao (2005), Phenol degradation in a hybrid membrane system, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology , 75: 783-788.

 

Conference paper and presentation:

l        Li Yi & Hu Hongying (2007), Isolation and Characterization of Psychrotrophic Nitrobenzene Degrading Strains from River Sediments, 2nd IWA – ASPIRE Conference and Exhibition, West Australian

l        Li Yi & Loh KaiChee (2006), Development of hollow fiber membrane bioreactor for cometabolic transformation of 4-chlorophenol in the presence of phenol a general presentation, IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition, Beijing.

lLi Yi & Loh KaiChee (2003), Immobilized-cells hollow fiber membrane bioreactors for cometabolic biotransformation of 4-chlorophenol in the presence of phenol. American institute of chemical engineering (AIChE) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, USA.

 

中文论文:

·       孙凌,李轶,生物活性碳对硝基苯污染底质的强化修复,中国环境科学,20093

·       李轶,李晶,难降解有机物污染底质的原位修复,生态环境,200812

·       杨海洋,李轶胡洪营,恶臭假单胞菌对硝基苯污染河水的修复研究,安全与环境工程,20081     

·        李轶,胡洪营,硝基苯污染底质的原位生物修复技术研究,环境科学,20086

 ·        李轶,胡洪营,耐冷硝基苯降解菌的分离与降解特性研究,环境科学,200728(4)902-907

·        李轶,胡洪营,固定在活性炭聚砜中空纤维膜中的Pseudomonas putida菌对四氯苯酚的共代谢降解,2007289),环境科学

·        李轶,胡洪营,低温条件下Pseudomonas putida对硝基苯的降解特性研究,第八届全国环境微生物学会议,杭州,2006

·        李轶,翟剑锋,阮晓红,复合生物反应器对化纤废水的处理研究,环境污染治理技术与设备,2001239-42

·        李轶,周集体,含硫染料中间体废水中硫的脱除与回收,化工环保,20002034-37

·        李轶,含硫染料废水的预处理研究,河海大学学报,2001621-25

·        李轶,周集体,铁屑过滤混凝技术对染料废水的预处理,染料工业,19993544-48

·        刘颖,李轶,电泳过程对高盐度化工废水的处理,染料工业,19993642-45

·        李轶,王栋,周集体,表面活性剂LAS废水的处理研究,环境科学进展,1999165-71

       

Will the Dragon Stay Green? China After the Beijing Olympics

The country has a chance to continue on its environmental path, beyond the Games and the borders of its capital.

Beijing’s skyline is sprouting some incomparable profiles. Alongside the mad dash to complete construction of gravity-defying, 50-plus-story buildings before the Olympic Games begin, architects from all over the world have created fantastic, environmentally friendly venues for the events.

The Bird’s Nest, a tangle of ovoid steel housing the main stadium, will be powered by solar photovoltaics. The Water Cube that shelters swimming and diving venues has internal systems to capture and recycle 80% of the water from the building’s roof and pool outwash.

SHUTTERSTOCK
The country has a chance to continue on its environmental path, beyond the Games and the borders of its capital.

Recycled water, provided by General Electric, will flow through the Olympic Village’s streams and water its plants. Researchers from Sweden are working to make a biodegradable plastic for foodservice plates, cutlery, and storage in time for the Games. Planned composting or even incineration of food and other waste will help to control the trash—and possibly create energy, too.

And, Olympic organizers hope, a herculean effort to remove industrial emissions—even if it means moving industrial sites away from China’s capital host city or simply shutting them down for a period of time—will mean that Beijing will have clean air by August.

This green showcase is part of China’s carefully orchestrated effort to demonstrate to the world how environmentally progressive it can be. The question is whether China will be able to sustain its green campaign after the Olympic Games end—and beyond the city limits of Beijing.

Some China observers cautiously predict that the country will succeed. As evidence, they cite the current leadership’s national agendas and the rush to find technological solutions to China’s well-publicized environmental problems.

Inside the dragon’s nest

Positive prognostications for China’s environment may come as a shock. The country still burns more than 22.7 quadrillion Btu of coal a year for electricity and energy for its industrial sector, according to the International Energy Agency; this consumption makes China an extreme greenhouse gas emitter.

Eutrophication has saddled its waterways with dense green algae or invasive water plants. And many of China’s waterways have been completely redirected or dammed in massive projects, such as the South–North water transfer and the Three Gorges Dam.

The Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird抯 Nest, looms behind the Water Cube, which will house the pools for this summer抯 swimming and other water events. Both structures boast green architectural elements, including recycled water from the Cube抯 roof and pools.

WIKIPEDIA COMMONS, ANGUS
The Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird抯 Nest, looms behind the Water Cube, which will house the pools for this summer抯 swimming and other water events. Both structures boast green architectural elements, including recycled water from the Cube抯 roof and pools.

As rural residents move to cities to seek employment, more and more buildings are erected to house these internal migrants, and some of this construction takes place at the expense of farmland and wildlife habitats. To control the loss of farmland, the government imposed taxes on arable land used for other purposes at the beginning of the year, according to the state press, which reported a loss of more than 300,000 hectares in 2007. Accompanying the building boom is an increase in cement production, which increases China’s greenhouse gas emissions because the process relies on coal and petroleum coke for energy. According to Wang Lan of the China Building Materials Academy, China’s cement industry produced 1 billion metric tons (t) of cement in 2007; that translated into 0.95 billion t of emitted CO2. (Cement production’s total contribution amounts to about 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.)

In addition, China’s energy use and water degradation have skyrocketed in the past decade. The nation has experienced an astounding 9% growth rate in about that time frame, and some estimates put the rate during the past 2 years at 11% (developed countries are happy if they achieve a 2–3% growth rate). Although energy use per capita in China is currently less than a quarter of what an American uses, China’s citizens now strive for middle-class lives, and they are slowly accumulating the goods that go along with living like middle-class Americans.

Observers typically point to estimates of car ownership: though cars were once a luxury item in China, 6 million new ones could be on the road this year, according to one estimate from China Daily, an official state press publication. In Beijing alone, 1000 new cars are registered every day, according to the UN Environment Programme.

To get clean air in Beijing for the Olympics, the government has issued draconian limits on automobile use in the city during the Olympics, at least temporarily. It has also required steel plants and other air polluters to move their manufacturing sites. China closed more than 1000 old cement plants last year to halt their emissions. Such heavy-handed control measures might serve Beijing well in the short term. But in the long term, China needs regulatory incentives and better enforcement to curb pollution and energy use.

Changing the dragon’s direction

In the past decade, the country has had to acknowledge that it has a massive onslaught of environmental problems, and China’s leadership is attempting to change the country’s course. As of May 1, companies with histories of environmental pollution must report their emissions under a set of new information rules. Those rules include directives that forbid banks to make loans to companies that are not green.

The measures are not law per se, but a specialist on China’s environment and social development, who is with an international consulting group, is optimistic. The consultant (who wished to remain anonymous) notes that government spending on environmental protection has increased during the past few years, as has media coverage of environmental issues in China. “[It’s] what people are talking about, [and it’s] becoming more and more common in daily conversation,” the consultant says.

Another indicator of change that observers emphasize is the elevation of the State Environmental Protection Administration of China (SEPA) earlier this year to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), which is at the national level. That transformation from a small department int
o one of the fastestgrowing administrations in the Chinese government is a signal of how important environmental issues are.

Whether that elevation in profile makes a difference remains to be seen. So far, plans to expand the personnel for MEP may be just talk, says Dan Guttman, an environmental lawyer based in Hong Kong. The U.S. EPA has sent over squadrons of scientists and lawyers to assist MEP and has helped the organization set up a system of regional offices similar to the regional EPA offices in the U.S. The goal is for U.S. and Chinese offices that oversee similar ecosystems to work together. (For example, EPA Region 9 in California partners with a geographically similar region in China that has a coastline and mountains.) But as Guttman points out, EPA has more than 17,000 employees plus outside contractors. China has 4 times the number of citizens and more pollution per capita, yet MEP has only 300 workers in Beijing and perhaps 30 people in the field for each region. Some support comes from affiliated research institutions, but the ministry remains lean. Many of China’s central ministries are lean, but some are quite powerful.

Furthermore, China’s central rules do not have the same force as U.S. or European laws. China’s central government issues 5-year plans that set goals for local governments, and promotions for government cadres rest on how well they meet those goals. The current 5-year plan contains two major dictums that require improvements in energy efficiency and decreases in energy use and major pollutants. “That includes even restaurant noise,” Guttman says. But there’s “no capability to enforce” these rules on the ground.

In contrast with the U.S. and Europe, the MEP regional offices are not staffed by central government employees; the positions are paid for by local governments, which turn these environmental protection officers into professional workers with no power. “There is no legal basis for regional offices—only a piece of paper that says we can have them,” Guttman says.

Until very recently, everything was kept under the tight control of the Communist Party, which continues to fund and own many state-run industries, adds Guttman. “If you want to think about getting rid of pollution, [that would require] making the government clean itself up.”

In fact, says Leonard Ortolano, a specialist in water resources and environmental planning at Stanford University, China’s reward system at the local level is designed to keep the gross domestic product (GDP) growing. Any government mandates to curb environmental pollution are secondary.

“If you are a municipal-level EPB [Environmental Protection Board] head, your second boss is the mayor,” Ortolano explains, in addition to reporting to a higher-up provincial level. “The mayor controls your budget, staff size, and whether you keep your job. The mayor is under tremendous pressure to keep up economic growth.” Now, the central government is “trying to rejigger things so the mayor pays enough attention to the environment, as they do to GDP growth. If it happens, it will change things radically.”

Building green

China’s leaders are practical in the sense that they are willing to look at other countries’ environmental efforts and to adopt solutions that work. For example, the Chinese government has implemented the EU’s ratings system for automobile emissions and EPA’s green-building guidelines. Using some of those guidelines, the city of Beijing has brought 50% of its new buildings up to code with basic environmental improvements such as adding insulation, according to Deborah Seligsohn, director of the World Resources Institute (WRI) China Program and head of its Climate Energy and Pollution Program. “Fifty percent would be a major advance from where they were. . . . It’s definitely a glass half full,” she says.

Agriculture in China ranges from subsistence to industrial scale, but many rural farmers are making the move to cities for higher wages.

JUPITERIMAGES
Agriculture in China ranges from subsistence to industrial scale, but many rural farmers are making the move to cities for higher wages.

In addition, a partnership between EPA and MEP has led to solutions as simple as training building managers to use their heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems more efficiently—to show people that efficiency can save money as well as energy. And, as part of an effort to increase energy efficiency, the government has devoted 900 million yuan (nearly $130 million) to upgrading household heating meters.

WRI and the China Business Council for Sustainable Development, a corporate cooperative group under the Chinese Enterprise Confederation, which works through the central government’s National Development and Reform Commission, have also partnered with companies in China to build inventories of greenhouse gas emissions to help track their emissions, among other projects. “Basically, 70% of [CO2] emissions are in the industrial sector,” says Seligsohn. “China can choose to focus on industrial emissions now, and then put in place some policies and measures in the building and transportation sectors that would control CO2 emissions growth [later] as technology and these sectors continue to develop.” New technologies could lower the cost of solutions for a variety of sectors, including green buildings, mass transportation, and alternative energy vehicles.

One relatively simple technology jump has been the widespread adoption of low-mercury, compact fluorescent bulbs across the country. Energy for lighting generates 14% of China’s emissions, Seligsohn points out, and the government’s Green Lighting Program brings compact fluorescent lights, which are produced in China for Wal-Mart and other major companies, to the local market.

Breathing wind, building well

In addition to China’s ambitious carbon plan, Seligsohn points out that the central government’s current 5-year plan for 2006 to 2010 aims to reduce energy intensity by 20%. The desired mix of renewable energy to reach that goal includes solar, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectricity, nuclear, and wind power. And the country has the added advantage of being the producer of leading cuttingedge designs for wind turbines and other equipment, from Europe, the U.S., and Japan, while working to improve its own technologies at such institutions as Tsinghua University, China’s equivalent of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Everything in China is on a grand scale—from the numbers of rural farmers who have moved to urban areas for employment to the country抯 newest wind turbines in Inner Mongolia.

DREAMSTIME
Everything in China is on a grand scale—from the numbers of rural farmers who have moved to urban areas for employment to the country抯 newest wind turbines in Inner Mongolia.

A 2007 report from the Global Wind Energy Council reported that 40 Chinese companies produced more than half of the new infrastructure
capacity for wind turbines for the global market last year. China currently has 6 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity installed, and by the end of the year, one largescale wind farm in Zhejiang Province is expected to have installed another 49.5 megawatts. By 2010, the Global Wind Energy Council estimates that China’s capacity will hit 10–12 GW of wind power. The city of Shanghai demands about 0.3 GW of capacity a year for its population of more than 20 million people.

China’s own estimates predict that by 2020 building and construction will require 40% of the country’s annual energy production. More building will lead to increased water use, wood and steel consumption, air conditioning use, and more. To counter some of this unwanted growth, China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban–Rural Construction established a greenbuilding rating system, with rules on land use, energy, water, and construction materials.

“The Chinese conceptually have many ideas in which they are leaders,” says Ortolano. “And they embrace the planning that allows them to do these things. . . . It is a culture of planning that is quite different,” especially from the U.S.

Ortolano mentions brand-new sustainable villages and industrial parks that are planned or being built now (past reports show that some “eco-villages” have had mixed success). Designers have set up industrial parks with closed-loop recycling, where companies transfer their waste to other companies that then use it as input. This reengineering includes a zero-energy island city (PDF 640KB) of 80,000 residents, offshore of Shanghai. And in a bid for grand-scale renewable energy, solar panels and wind turbines are sprouting up near the Gobi Desert, along the Silk Road. “You are driving, and then suddenly there’s row after row of huge wind turbines,” says Guttman. “You turn around, and you see entirely new, what we would call cities, overnight.”

Revolution of rising expectations

Despite the challenges, Ortolano and others can see that, gradually, China is managing to succeed—by putting in place its tremendous industrial renovation programs, starting up monitoring for emissions, and encouraging green building and sustainable resource use, all while protecting its culture and its people. “Slowly, slowly, they’re doing it,” Ortolano says. “All I could say is one has to stay tuned. Things are in flux and changing rapidly. We can expect increasing pressures from central to local governments to pay attention to the environment.”

Chinese aspirations are the same as any developed country’s, says Seligsohn: people want blue sky, natural settings, pristine buildings. Even if all of China’s people are not wealthy themselves, they know their country is, she says. “A fundamental change that’s happened in the last 10 years [is that they have become] wealthy enough as a society to say, ‘We are going to be among the first rank.’ Development is more than just industry; modernity means quality health care, education, clean water—[and] environmental as well as other social services.”

“It’s not going to be perfect,” Seligsohn says, “but I am quite convinced that 5 years from now, you’ll look at the sky [in Beijing], and it’s going to be substantially better.” NAOMI LUBICK