The most recent story -
green spirituality and the limits to modernityhttp://www.sustainablechina.info/2012/06/26/green-spirituality-limits-modernity/- ties the sustainability mission to the rise and return of spirituality in the country:
In China, the quest for a sustainable future is mirrored in the “back to the future” rise of religions. For sure this is a complex phenomenon: people pray to the gods for wealth and happiness, not for a lower ecological footprint. But at the same time, Chinese religions send messages about reducing desire, non-violence to living beings, harmony with nature, and the value of balance and moderation.In another story - religious diversity and ecological sustainability - the author posts his defense of why we - outside China - need to change our view of what a modern China is and how a modern China thinks of itself:
it is necessary to resist the simplistic construction of “New China” as exclusively “secular”, “modern”, or “materialistic.” The resurgence of religious expression in contemporary China, the attention paid to minority nationalities throughout China’s diverse environmental contexts, and the resuscitation of Confucius as supreme icon of Chinese culture together compel us to pay attention to the cultural and religious diversity of contemporary China. Doing so leads us to question the binary taxonomies of tradition / modernity, sacred / secular, rural / urban, religion / science that inform the ideology of mo- dernity, and to pay particular attention to the way their attendant ideologies and narratives serve to construct and authorize particular views of nature and environment.I have to say that this sort of website is really useful in helping non-native scholars and activists for sustainability understand how to think of the China/Taiwan region and its people. One mantra for (ecological) sustainability is, "Think globally, act locally," and one of the most important parts of being able to accomplish the second part is to divest yourself of your previous assumptions (especially in a rapidly changing part of the world) and invest strongly in information that best informs you about the root causes and motivations of the people that you are trying to reach.
I have, myself, been interested in trying to learn what the social and personal motivations are for people entering the area of natural resource conservation. We aren't all hippy tree-huggers and we aren't also all hunters and fishers (nor do we all get along). Our personal stories are all different, but I imagine that most US citizens likely share some similar themes. Getting to those themes - especially as we move further from the environmental movement of the 1970s, when the major themes of environmentalism in the US emerged - is going to be important in maintaining relevance in natural resource conservation efforts within the US; the activists of Earth Day 1970 are (if they are still alive) 43 years older now, and their university-age counterparts were born as much as 25 years after that first Earth Day. Understanding how to connect and keep relevant the message of environmentalism and (now) sustainability will require connecting it to robust existing social structures, and I believe this is already happening.
However, that is merely "acting locally" within the context of the United States. In an increasingly globalized world that is increasingly less willing to just take social policy that we foist upon them, and one that is moving ever faster toward inescapable effects of climate change, an important aspect of creating "buy-in" to the ideas of sustainability is to learn what the cultural resonances are between the goals of sustainability and already existing social institutions. Scholars like James Miller are doing this work in China and Taiwan. Similarly motivated scholars are working on this question in various parts of the world, too.
... and I think that it's a good thing that they're doing.