China’s Environmental Crisis Through the Lens - Woodrow Wilson Center - New Security Beat - Sean Gallagher - Photographer & Filmmaker | Beijing, China

China’s Environmental Crisis Through the Lens – Woodrow Wilson Center – New Security Beat


This week, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat blog kindly featured my new eBook, MELTDOWN: China’s Environment Crisis, and interviewed me about its production. Please find below an excerpt of the interview. Make sure to visit their excellent website which is dedicated to environment and security issues.

China is one of the world’s 12 “mega-biodiversity” countries, but its incredible natural landscapes, from Sichuan’s sparkling, turquoise-colored lakes to Guilin’s dramatic karst topography, are bearing the cost of rapid economic development, writes British environmental photojournalist and videographer Sean Gallagher in a new multimedia e-book.

Meltdown: China’s Environmental Crisis, published by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and available for free, is a visually rich travelogue that brings the reader on Gallagher’s travels to some of China’s most remote areas through photos, videos, maps, interviews, and handwritten notations. The book consists of four chapters documenting how the landscape is being fundamentally altered and the resulting effects on species and communities.

Although the book’s title suggests an alarmist characterization of China’s environmental future, Gallagher provides a refreshingly balanced and holistic coverage of the interplay between China’s environment, economic development, and various cultures. Through the 62-page travelogue, the Beijing-based photojournalist pairs visuals with first-person accounts and substantive analysis of how an ensemble of pressures – including climate change, industrialization, and urbanization – is impacting the country.

The reader comes away with a newfound appreciation for China’s incredible biodiversity and the challenge, driven by ambitious development goals, of preserving it.

The China Environment Forum interviewed Sean Gallagher via email to better understand the process of reporting on these issues from behind a lens:

China Environment Forum: How did you get interested in environmental photojournalism in China and ultimately decide to base yourself in Beijing?

Sean Gallagher: I first learned of the severity of China’s environmental problems when I read the book, The River Runs Black, by Elizabeth C. Economy. At that time, I was undertaking a photojournalism internship in London. At the end of the internship I was awarded a grant to help fund my first professional project. I decided to go to China and start to work on some of the issues I had read about. I was also influenced by the fact that my father had been travelling to China, with his work in international trade, since the 1980s. After my initial trip in 2005, I decided to move to Beijing and use it as my base for covering environmental issues in Asia.

Read more of the interview on the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat website.


Leave a Reply