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Launched in July 2012, FLOAT Beijing—a  community art project that utilizes citizen science—offers a simple, innovative, and non-confrontational approach to air quality monitoring: kites. Pioneered by two U.S. graduate students, the project tracks air pollutants using air sensor modules attached to kites. In recent years, China has seen an upswing in civic environmental activism, from pollution victims bringing class action lawsuits to Chinese protesters and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) exposing the polluting practices of domestic and foreign industries. While the Chinese government has improved outlets for citizens to channel environmental grievances, many of these pathways remain either heavily congested with bureaucratic rigmarole or blocked. For this reason, bottom-up initiatives that are able to bypass these channels, like citizen science and do-it-yourself (DIY) technologies, may prove vital to mitigating China’s environmental problems.

About the Author

Abi Barnes

Research Assistant
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China Environment Forum

Since 1997, the China Environment Forum's mission has been to forge U.S.-China cooperation on energy, environment, and sustainable development challenges. We play a unique nonpartisan role in creating multi-stakeholder dialogues around these issues.  Read more

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

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