Thayer Scudder

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Dear Doug,

Great to hear from you! So you are the one who did the Scudder wikipedia site! I have been wondering for some time. What a nice gesture. Thank you.

In terms of China, I was back there in 2005 working with the Nature Conservancy (China and US) on the relationship between old and planned dams on Yunnan rivers (upper Yangtze, Mekong, Salween/Nu etc) on nature reserves. Fascinating trip. And I am currently writing a chapter on China in my new book ms (see below). So would be very interested in hearing how your work there goes.

On general update, in 1998 I took the Caltech option of having the next two years just on research to be followed by retirement to emeritus status when I reached 70 in 2000. Situation was ideal for in '98 I became a WCD commissioner and was able to spend most of the next two years on WCD work including trips to Brazil, Vietnam, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Eastern Europe. After the WCD final report came out in late 2000, I spent much of the next four years writing my Future of Large Dams book.

My main overseas work involves twice annual trips to Laos (I leave for three weeks next month) where three of us on a World Bank required Panel work for the government on their largest development project (a dam of course).Unlike previous such panels we have clout for the dam can't be sealed until we confirm that resettlement has been adequately implemented. Working in Laos since 1997 has been most interesting due to being able to observe a small communist country modeled on China trying to join the world system.

Once my dam's book was finished, I started working on my current book ms which is half done. It deals with ten global threats aggregated into four categories which I am convinced will cause global living standards to decline in the future. The rate and magnitude can be influenced by governments but not the fact of decline itself. The threat four categories are dealt with in the first four chapters: poverty, fundamentalism (cultural, economic, political and religious), population increase, urbanization and consumption, and environmental degradation and climate change. The next three chapters deal with those threats as they involve the US, China, and Zambia. And the last two deal with my assessment of actions required to slow the rate and magnitude of the decline that will occur regardless of what we do.

The Chinese chapter which is half done is turning out to be fascinating for I have been able to look as continuity and change in one village from the mid 1930s to the present as illustrating at the village level (e.g responsibility system in the 1980s and privatization of the village economy starting in the mid 1990s) what I then show has been replicated in China as a whole with the same threats built large. The village is Fei's village outside Shanghai which he first studied in '30s, revisited in the '50s and throughout the 80s when he arranged for me to visit it. Bringing the situation up to date is a recent PhD thesis by a Chinese scholar now at LSE.

Once this tome is done (end of 2008), then on to my magnum opus on the Gwembe Tonga.

On a suggestion for your trip, if at all possible visit Fei's Village! Mind boggling!

That's pretty much it.

Warm regards to you and Lilyan for the holiday season Ted