Written by Huang-Hsiung Hsu. Taiwan is currently suffering a severe drought. Water use restriction on agriculture, livelihood, and industry has been mounting since autumn 2020. No landfalling typhoons (except a minor one passing through the Luzon Strait in early November 2020 that brought very little precipitation) for the first time in 57 years led to our low water level in major reservoirs. These dry conditions were compounded by the following spring rainfall failure in 2021 (likely caused by the prevailing La Niña) that worsened the drought impacts. Nevertheless, a drought that usually lasted for few months was not uncommon in Taiwan and seemed to occur more frequently in recent decades.
Written by Ming-sho Ho. 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima Incident. It is also likely to be a decisive moment for Taiwan’s anti-nuclear movement. Taiwan’s voters will head for a referendum on August 28 to decide whether to reactive the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP).
Written by Natasha Heller. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that the world faces. A United Nations report has cautioned that greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity are at a record high, “with no signs of slowing down.” Many nations are recording weather extremes, higher average temperatures and rising seas. Meanwhile, the first wave of increasing numbers of climate refugees points to how a changing environment will reshape human life.
Written by Robin Winkler. In terms of biodiversity, Taiwan ranks near the top of all countries with past natural historians referring to Taiwan as “the Galapagos of Asia.” For nearly forty years of martial law, most of the general population other than fishers and soldiers were kept away from the oceans for purported security concerns. However, as the Taiwan government becomes more mature in its self-discovery, particularly during the past two and a half decades, it has rediscovered that we are an island nation.
Written by Cheng Li-jung. In recent years, “Animal writing” is a developing issue in literary research. Many studies have given a focus on animals and social culture since the 1980s. They combined with cross-field animal research and attempted to rethink the history of animals in the context of ecological ethics and animal protection. Now it can be said that animal history is a new historical perspective and emerging field.
Written by Natalie Wong. The Taiwanese Government further promoted energy transition, encouraged citizen participation in energy policy, and also subsidised community solar panel installation in 2013. Later, in 2018, the DPP Government implemented a White Paper for Energy Transition, with the notion of community energy being highlighted. It concluded that during the energy transition, the roles of social force should not be neglected. Consisting of 18 ENGOs and community colleges, these civil society organisations became allies for promoting the 2015 energy transition.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. Due to Taiwan’s geographical location and geological properties, the country is particularly at risk of the impact of climate change. Some apparent phenomena of climate change are that the frequencies of extreme precipitation events. Furthermore, extreme typhoon intensity is increasing. These phenomena have caused giant landslides, extensive landscape changes, and severe casualties across Taiwan. Many of the giant landslides occurred on the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples, and thus they suffer from the most adverse impacts of climate change. Indigenous peoples are, but not the only, climate victims.
Written by Daniel Davies. On June 3rd, 2020 Taiwan Sugar Corporation CEO, Chen Zao-yi, travelled south to Pingtung County for the most recent talks surrounding a proposed 230-hectare solar farm project at Xinchi Farm in Wanluan Township. The green-energy project, which is to be built alongside the No.185 County Road, has been at the centre of sustained protests by local residents due to the planned felling of Taiwan’s largest planted forest. The site of the development is within the 10,815-hectare forest planted in 2002 by the Taiwan Sugar Corporation, using 5.2 billions of dollars of state subsidies, after the contraction of the sugar industry caused by Taiwan joining the WTO.
Written by Ming-sho Ho. Upon winning the re-election in January 2020, Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party government is set to realise the goal of abolishing nuclear energy by 2025. At the same time, they wish to raise the proportion of green energy in the electricity mix to twenty per cent. While the dream of “nuclear-free homeland” has been championed by Taiwan’s environmentalists for more than three decades, the top-down push for renewable energy has unexpectedly met some opposition from the same camp.
Written by Simona Grano. Energy provision and environmental issues have faded into the background since the beginning of the Hong Kong protests in June 2019. Candidates and parties have focused on new ways to deal with the ‘China Threat’, such as the DPP’s recent proposal to pass an anti-infiltration bill and the KMT’s counter-proposal of an anti-annexation act. According to a Greenpeace survey on the three main presidential candidates’ energy policies, none had presented any concrete plan to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions (…)
Written by Polina G. Karimova and Kuang-Chung Lee. The Satoyama Initiative’s introduction to Taiwan in late 2010 became a timely and much anticipated solution to the revival of Taiwan’s SEPLS. The Initiative’s social-ecological systems thinking was similar to that of local and indigenous communities and it benefited from Taiwan and Japan’s shared historical and cultural bonds, as well as Taiwan’s comparable socio-ecological threats and agricultural patterns.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. The traditional culture of the local aboriginal Tao tribe on Lanyu Island has a very strong cultural taboo regarding the Green Sea Turtles. Their habitat is close to the local population’s traditional cemetery and the area is regarded as the living space of evil spirits. The organisms living in these areas, such as green sea turtles, are believed to have devil spirits.