With the Olympics Looming, China Goes Green

Despite all of this action, some worry that fundamental changes have yet to come, and that the changes in Beijing are just cosmetic and temporary.

"I think that probably is the case at this point in time," Economy said. "What we're going to get with these Olympics really is just a shutdown of the city to make it work for those few weeks."

At the same time there are visible signs of change: Millions of electric bikes have been sold, alternate energy sources are gaining popularity and China has become a world leader in solar thermal production and use.

The city of Dezhou is the world's largest producer of solar water heaters and the city of Rizhou is increasingly becoming a solar city. One in 10 Chinese homes has solar hot water.

"Change in China has got to come from the bottom up," Economy said. "I think it's going to have to come from a new understanding by the Chinese people of how to treat the environment … and why the environment matters so much to us."

And that understanding is beginning in places like the Number Two Middle School, as well as the 4,000 environmental groups that have sprung up in China since 1994.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
PHOTO: Defendant Jodi Arias testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial in Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2013.
Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, their daughter North West and Delphine Arnault attend the Givenchy show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015, Sept. 28, 2014 in Paris.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images