In 1979 China initiated a series of reforms which have been among the most fundamental changes ever to occur in any country. While allowing some of the most astonishing economic growth the world has ever seen, these reforms also induced some of the most profound social and environmental shifts. Scores of millions of people, apparently surplus to the needs of agriculture, have been attracted to booming rural enterprises, or to the uncertainties of towns and cities, where their work has contributed to the informal sector and an immense construction boom.This book looks at two aspects of the impacts of the reforms - first, on the demography of the country (especially migration and urbanization); and second, on the environment. A third part examines various problems of environmental degradation in relation to natural processes and human efforts to mitigate their effects. It reminds us that many environmental problems are associated with natural processes, but also that human efforts to remedy them are limited by the economy and political will.

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