There is nothing good, from an environmental point of view, from going around the world by airplane. I know this, and I acknowledge that our trip's Carbon Footprint is somewhat jackboot-shaped. I don't know whether what I have to say next makes things better or worse.
A few months ago I finished Jared Diamond's most recently published book, Collapse. It describes the success and failure of numerous human societies across time and geography, attempting to distinguish those factors, including the society's own behaviour, that decided whether the population collapsed or prospered. We will be visiting a lot of the countries that Diamond talked about - and seeing evidence of other societies that failed (the Inca for example). So I'd like to make this one of a number of themes for this trip, learning first hand about the ecological and political issues that touch the stability of our increasingly overlapping societies in each of the places we visit.
There's a whole chapter devoted to Australia in Collapse, and a section on China. I expecgt it's going to be hard to see anything except the tourist side of China, but may in Oz I'll have better luck seeing first hand some of the issues that Diamond talks about.