Q&A: Author Sam Geall on China’s Green Awakening

With the help of social media, activists are helping engender a new consciousness
The Tiger Leaping Gorge on the road from Lijiang to the logging town of Zhongdian, in northwestern Yunnan province, China Photograph by Dario Mitidieri/Getty Images

Most of the headlines about China’s environment involve victims and villains. On one side are the regular people suffering from exposure to toxic rivers and contaminated food; on the other, greedy factory owners and recalcitrant officials. Not visible in that black-and-white picture are China’s emerging ranks of environmental activists—some full-time nongovernmental organization workers and others simply volunteers responding ad hoc to threats to their health and livelihood. China’s first environmental NGO, Friends of Nature, was allowed to legally register in 1994, and since then thousands more have followed in its footsteps.

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