China: Environmental Fallout After Sichuan Earthquake

A week after China's deadly earthquake killed nearly 56,000 people, environmental and other costs of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake are becoming clearer. On this post we examine posts related to the environmental fallout of the earthquake, and also the plight of animals in the earthquake area.

Plans for a proposed petrochemical plant that brought out NIMBY protesters earlier this month may be shelved after the earthquake. Six people were detained for the protest, called a “stroll” to get around applying for a protest permit. Charlie McElwee at China Environmental Law blog says:

I would hope that those arrested and detained are treated leniently. It appears they had valid points to make, and they wouldn’t have had to make them in an unorthodox fashion if the public participation regulations applicable to construction projects had been complied with.

Julian Wong at Green Leap Forward blogs about the long-term energy implications of the earthquake. He notes that the operations of China's largest steam turbine producer were evidently decimated, while the impact on Chengdu's dams and hydropower are potentially even more serious,. Julian expresses hope that long term considerations will come into play after normalcy is restored, saying

It is hard to imagine that amidst the chaotic frenzy to restore a sense of normalcy across the region, that such far sighted considerations will be given much weight over the immediate needs of those affected. When the dust settles, however, there will be an opportunity to consider, and not without international cooperation, what it means to rebuild a more sustainable set of infrastructure.

Several bloggers are highlighting stories about animals. Richard Heisler spotlights the plight of the Wolong Pandas and the efforts of Panda International organization.

In the aftermath of the earthquake earlier this week the situation is very desperate in Wolong. Both the animals of the Wolong Giant Panda Preserve and the caretakers need all the possible support they can gather to assist with the incredibly difficult task of caring for the bears, the cubs and the people of the town of Wolong. Pandas International is assisting Wolong directly with the help of the Red Cross in China to get medicine, food and supplies flown in to the completely isolated town to aid the doctors, veterinarians, pandas and people.

The IFAW Animal Rescue blog writes about the plight of Animals stating

By now, there have been more than 300 smaller aftershocks in the region. The torrential rain has been unrelenting, causing mud slides. Huge boulders are coming down the mountains, blocking the already treacherous roads and making any rescue attempt difficult. Wolong Nature Reserve, the synonym for China’s Giant Panda is at the epicenter and is still not accessible.
I am not so concerned about wild animals. They often have the ability to sense the abnormalities in nature and thus get away, like those elephants and monkeys that sensed the Indian Ocean Tsunami and scurried away from the beach to higher ground. It is the animals that are in confined environments that will likely become victims, millions of livestock on farms, companion animals in people’s homes and even pandas that are kept in captivity.

Danwei reports that the Yunnan White-Handed Gibbon of southwest China has been declared extinct.

Andrew Field at Shanghai Journal blogs about the damage of eating shark fin soup, a popular dish in China. He notes that the damage is caused by mass killings of sharks, which causes an imbalance in the ocean ecology. adding…

While many countries are waking up to this disaster, most people here in China are completely in the dark as to what the mass killing of sharks is doing to the ecology of the oceans. Many fancy restaurants in Shanghai and in other cities serve shark fin soup and some restaurants (such as Yu Xin on Weihai Road, where I ate last Sunday) have prominent displays of shark fin cartilage in glass cases. Shark fin soup is especially popular for high-status events such as weddings or official banquets.

As of the writing of this post on May 25th, China Digital Times reports that powerful after shocks hit China. More about that developing story on their blog.


  • my_mother

    Hey Kelly;

    Hope I am not the only person posting comments in this thread.

    After reading all the links about, I am still kind of confused. What exactly is the fallout from the quake? I might be kind of slow, because I still don’t seem to get what the point was; except that everything are loosely cobbled together in a sort of schizophrenic way. Hate to use that term, but I just can’t shaken that feeling. And what the heck do gibbon the shark fin have to do with the 5.12 earthquake?

    So, if you can, could you clue me in a bit about what the nature, extent, potential impact, etc. of the “fallout” from the 5.12 quake.


  • marie

    shark fin soup is NOT populous in China. It is very expensive and usually few restaurant boasts to serve it, but in reality very rare people order it.

  • ramona kaisar

    I wanted to say that the earthquake or typhoon and other disasters are created by the water around world, (sea water or ocean water). because under the ocean, theres gas, and the gas is warming up because the ice land is melting, the ice land is melting because the sea water level is getting higher, the sea water is getting higher because most of the rivers are pluged up. The sea water have to circlelate by going through the river and coming back to the ocean from the river. But since the rivers are pluged up, then the sea water don’t have anywhere to go, so it goes to the ice land. So when the ice land is melting, of corse there will be not enough cooling on the ocean, and the gas under the ocean will get hotter and create a massive earthquake. It is just very lucky that there is no tiddlewave after the massive earthquake in China. becuase I believe that when the gas under the ocean is getting hotter, then it will create an earthquake and tiddlewaves. I wanted to explain how the typhoon and tornados created by the water, but my main concern is the rivers, the oceans and the ice land. We should care and love one another, and help each other to survive, but the only way to survive is to gather one another and help each other to clean up the rivers that is pluged up. So that the sea water can have its own way to go through the river and come back from the river. Time is running out and I really don’t know whats going to happen next.

    Thank you, and I hope that you will do something.

  • Kelly Proctor

    Hello Kain,

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ll separate the posts next time, and give them a more organized title.

    I’m sure to have more posts about the environmental effects of the earthquake.


  • subjectivelistener

    Thanks ramona, I wish Ms Sharon Stone read what you wrote. She was saying it was due to China ill-treatment of Dalai Lama.

    Just kidding.

    Now at least why I saw the steam coming out from the ground during the earthquake video clips.

    Thanks again, ramona.

  • […] China: Environmental Fallout After Sichuan Earthquake By Kelly Proctor Global Voices Online May 26, 2008 A week after China’s deadly earthquake killed nearly 56,000 people, environmental and other costs of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake are becoming clearer. On this post we examine posts related to the environmental fallout of the earthquake, and also the plight of animals in the earthquake area. […]

  • […] of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake are …Video: earthquake Pandas Move Into New Home AssociatedPress of Chinese Dams in Danger of Collapsing Chinese authorities are warning that nearly 70 dams […]

  • Hi everyone,

    Did you know that the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary, a cherished World Heritage site and home to 30% of the world’s remaining pandas, suffered major damage? Or that the Sanctuaries include breeding centers that support zoos all over the world, and in the United States? Without these centers, the future of the remaining endangered pandas is uncertain. Check out (a grassroots initiative created by the United Nations Foundation with Expedia, Inc. and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre) to see how you can help save the pandas.

  • Terry

    The article is a bit confusing. Also, it should be noted that the earthquake was a 7.9 on the Richter Scale and there have been over 76,000 deaths report; that’s 20,000 more than you’ve mentioned in this post.

  • USA should bankrupted

    All USD cash paper Money goes back to USA from all countries, then it coased: 1, some countries loss; 2, but USA broken down.
    It is the result that USA do nothing but grabbing wealth from all over world via thier virtual economic and finacial systems, as well as printing their USD paper!!!
    It is the time to hand the USD paper back to USA!!

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