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Publishers Weekly -For teacher and author Grumbine (Ghost Bears), visiting China's Yunan Province was an eye opener; as an expert on environmental issues, his concern over U.S. "protected area policies" had shielded him from far more profound problems abroad, especially the potential conflict between renewable energy development and biodiversity protection among the "88 percent of the world's humans who lack electricity, potable drinking water, basic education and healthcare." Though they've already built more dams than any other country, China's plan to build 13 new ones on three Himalayan rivers will have a huge impact on Yunan, a biological paradise home to orchids, snow leopards, fifteen species of primates and more. An international grass-roots outcry has put the project on hold, good news for the Golden Monkey but, as a staffer from the nature conservancy points out, bad news for the area's 200,000 impoverished villagers. Further complications include the fact that, should the new dams be scrapped, the growth rate of China's already-troublesome carbon dioxide emissions will be far worse. Grumbine's account demonstrates how first-hand experience broadened his understanding of the problem, requiring an approach that balances "using nature and protecting it." With much information on Beijing's efforts to reach an equitable solution, Grumbine's careful reconsideration of world conservation efforts is an important read for policy makers and grass-roots advocates.
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