Environmentalism in China – Part 4/4

November 3, 2011

To discover more of how diverse this environmental awakening is in China, the October 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine introduces us to the Bird Whisperer, a Buddhist monk named Tashi Zangpo, who is saving one of the world’s rarest birds, the Tibetan bunting.

“Tashi, now 41,” Phil McKenna writes, “has crisscrossed the Tibetan plateau drawing 400 bird species. He is currently compiling a field guide that evokes the work of John James Audubon or Roger Tory Peterson. He wears prayer beads on one wrist and a digital watch with altimeter and compass on the other.”

However, in America, regardless of what is happening in Asia, China is often criticized in the media and by the public (after reading about it in the media) for air pollution blowing more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific to the United States.


The breathing earth

From Where Does Our Pollution Go, we learn that “Winds can carry pollution around the planet, therefore, all nations are connected by air currents,” and then from MSNBC, we discover that the U.S. exports its air pollution to Europe.

When I Googled “air pollution from China to America”, the results were more than 9.4 million hits, but when I searched “air pollution from America to Europe”, there were more than 17 million.

MSNBC’s Michael Schirber of Live Science reported in 2005, that “On Nov. 14, 2001, a low-pressure system caused a large mass of air huddled over the eastern half of the United States to rise up several miles, where it was then carried by the jet stream to Europe,” which resulted in a 33% increase in ozone levels in the Alps.

In addition, Schirber says, “European pollution has been tracked to Asia, as well as the Arctic…” He compares the wind to a conveyor belt.

In fact, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research reported in October 2009 that when it comes to global air pollution, what goes around comes around. “Air pollution from factories, traffic, and power plants in Asia wafts over the Pacific Ocean to the United States, while pollutants produced in the United States wind up in Europe.”

Then there are those in America and Europe (and elsewhere in the world) that claim CO2 is not a pollutant and is not contributing to Global Warming.


Ocean Acidification — Changing Planet — As higher amounts of carbon dioxide become absorbed by the oceans, some marine organisms are finding it is a struggle to survive

For such naysayers, in January 2008, a Stanford Report written by Louis Bergeron reported on a study conducted by a Stanford scientist that linked carbon dioxide emissions to increased deaths.

“For the first time,” Bergeron wrote, there were direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality…

The study detailed how for each increase of 1 degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States.

So, next time you hear someone criticize China for air pollution crossing the Pacific Ocean to the US, consider the amount of CO2 and Black Soot China produced in the last thirty years of industrialization compared to the UK, Europe and America’s more than two centuries.

Once you know the facts and you were given a choice to live in Europe or America, where would the air probably be cleaner/healthier?

Return to Environmentalism in China – Part 3 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.

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Environmentalism in China – Part 2/4

November 1, 2011

Between 1990 and 2008, according to the United Nations Statistics Division, the US produced 314.6 million metric tons of CO2, while China produced 57.23 million metric tons. One metric ton is 1,000 kg or 2,204.62 pounds, which means one million metric tons weighs one billion kg or more than two billion pounds.


Chinese Environmentalists Target Apple

In addition, in 2008, the  Earth System Science Education Alliance reported, “Black soot is made up of microscopic carbon particles released during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, coal and the burning of wood)…

“Soot, we now understand, is hazardous to our health and is suspected of contributing to global warming.”

In fact, soot has only recently been identified as a major player in the loss of ice and snow in the Polar Regions.

While the US has reduced CO2 emissions from 19.7 million metric tons in 1997 (the highest point on record) to 17.5 in 2008, China increased CO2 emissions from 2.8 million metric tons to 5.3.

In 2008, the US still produced more than three times the amount of CO2 China produced.

Facts and Details.com says, “The U.S. emits about 21% of the world’s CO2 and 6.1% of the world’s Black Soot.  However, the majority of today’s black carbine emissions are from developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

“China and India together account for 25-35% of global black carbon emissions.”


Using technology to confront polluters in China

What isn’t mentioned is that the US population is less than 5% of the global total while China and India together represent 36%.  From these facts, it is clear that the US still pollutes more than its share of black soot and CO2 compared to China and India.

What is China doing to solve the pollution challenge before it equals the more than two hundred years of pollution from the US and Europe?

Continued on October 31, 2011 in Environmentalism in China – Part 3 or return to Part 1

View as Single Page

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.

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The Conservative Carbon Conspiracy

October 27, 2011

Although China suffers from air pollution in its major cities and rivers, there are cities and rivers with cleaner air and water, such as Chengdu (more than 14 million people), Haikou (more than 2 million), Xiamen (about 3.5 million), Dalian (more than 6 million) and Zhuhai (1.5 million), and the Qi River in the north and the Li River in the south in addition to the Wusuli and Ussuri Rivers in the Northeast, and the Nenjiang River in the midwest.

Since the Western media often focuses on the pollution in China, this may come as a surprise to many, but China, like the United States, has environments that are not polluted.

After three decades of pollution, China is struggling to clean its environment, which in a capitalist, profit driven economic system is a challenge as it is in the United States.

Evidence of China’s efforts to clean its environment reveal itself in the fact that China has more hydroelectric dams (about 26,000—half the world total) than any nation, is replacing its old dirty coal-burning power plants with the latest clean-air technologies in coal power, and is the leader in solar and wind generating electricity in addition to developing safer, cleaner nuclear energy.

In fact, China produces more than 200 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from its hydroelectric dams while the US only produces 80 GW in third place behind Canada’s 89 GW.

However, in the US, conservatives from the Republican Party fight hard to curb environmental laws designed to decrease carbon based pollution due to coal burning power plants and the combustion engine.

There is an old saying in America that harkens back to the revolution, “Give me liberty or give me death,” but today, the unspoken conservative slogan should be “Give me carbon, profits and lower taxes or give me death.”

For example, the Huffington Post reported, “Obama’s Ozone Standards Retreat Angers Environmental Groups, Ignores Science… Only national enforcement will protect us here in Rhode Island from the ‘bad air’ days we experience due to ozone caused by out-of-state power plants,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement. “Many of these Midwestern power plants have inadequate pollution controls or none at all, and use tall smokestacks to launch the pollution into prevailing winds that bring ozone here to Rhode Island.”

Why would President Obama do this? The answer is pressure from the conservative majority in the House of Representatives that value profit over life.  Conservatives ignore the fact that cutting back on ground-level ozone could save, according to the EPA, an estimated 12,000 American lives, 58,000 asthma attacks and 2.5 million missed school or work days annually.

Meanwhile, the war of words in the US over global warming between conservatives supporting the oil and coal industries and environmentalists continues.

More evidence that increased carbon in the atmosphere is causing global warming was reported in World Without Ice by Robert Kunzig in the October 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine. “Fifty-six million years ago,” Kunzig wrote, “a mysterious surge of carbon into the atmosphere sent global temperatures soaring. In a geologic eye blink life was forever changed.”

What happened 56 million years ago is called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM.  Global warming during the PETM was caused by a massive and geologically sudden release of carbon. The PETM lasted more than 150,000 years until the oceans and forests reabsorbed the excess carbon. It brought on droughts, floods, insect plagues and extinctions.

If you doubt that carbon spewing into the atmosphere is not causing current global warming, I suggest reading the piece in National Geographic (link provided above).  Once the earth was hot and ice free, the ocean levels were 220 feet higher than they are now.

If we ignore these facts and continue business as usual as conservatives want, imagine what global warning and melting ice will do to property values and profits in areas that may soon be under water.

Discover The Cause of China’s Pollution

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.


The Challenge to Reduce China’s Carbon Footprint

July 5, 2010

Bloomberg reported that China Datang Corp has started construction on a rooftop solar power plant in Jiangsu province as another step in China’s goals to cut carbon emssions. Plans are for this power plant to generate 6.2 gigawatt hours of power reducing the need for coal-powered generating plants.

Solar Power

This plant is not the only one under construction.  China is already the world’s leading producer of solar panels, and China is also building a 2,000-megawatt project in the Mongolian desert, which is planned for completion in 2019, and may be the largest solar power facility on the globe. Along with solar power, China plans to install 100 gigawatts of wind power by 2020. Source: World Changing

With the demand from China’s people to improve lifestyles, cutting back on carbon emissions is going to be a challenge as reported in China Juggles an Increase in Carbon Emissions and Renewable Energy Plans.

See Electricity is the Key

_________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Transporting Goods by Road in China

March 26, 2010

Originally Published (see more photos here) at Speak Without Interruption on February 19, 2010 by Bob Grant—publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption. Posted on iLook China, 3/26/10 at 08:00

About any time, day or night, in major Chinese cities you can see any type of vehicle transporting all imaginable products on the roads. There are trucks carrying ocean containers and Mercedes carrying people. I have traveled to England, Ireland, Holland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and China. I would not call myself a “world traveler” but, of all the countries in which I have traveled, I found China to be the most diverse in terms of the types of vehicles that transported goods on their roads.

Regardless of where my travels took me in China—rural or city—there were always a lot of people transporting goods in any type of vehicle that could move on its own, by animal, or under human power. The fact that people were busy working was not of particular note. It was the diversity of their means of transportation within a single view that was of interest to me. Also, they all seemed to move with purpose—whether carrying large or small items. I suppose that is really not so different than any other parts of the world—for some reason it just struck me as another admirable quality of the Chinese people.

Photo from original post on Speak Without Interruption

Most of the smaller commercial trucks are blue—I have no idea why? I asked a couple of times but really did not receive an answer. Maybe there was a sale on blue paint? I am certain there is a reason, but since I don’t know it, I can’t share it with you—rather just make reference to it.

I will say that with all those vehicles on the road it did add to the air pollution. In most states in the U.S., vehicles have to pass safety inspections before they can be licensed. I am not certain this is a rule in China—if it can move it is road ready. 

In my travels inside China for business, I found the Chinese to be very capitalistic in nature—certainly contrary to how I viewed the Chinese people prior to me actually visiting the country. The diversity in the means of transporting their goods is just one example of this fact at least in my mind.

Read more of Bob Grant’s guest posts at http://wp.me/pN4pY-gJ

 


Pain, Pollution and People

February 14, 2010

It’s difficult to write when I’m gasping for air and blowing my top. When I was still teaching, walking into a classroom in the morning made me sick—and no, I wasn’t allergic to my students, but I should have been.

Then I retired and for five years, I have been free of wheezy lungs and sinus infections that always arrived with the start of each school year when I worked in those old buildings at the high school where I taught. Have you heard of sick building syndrome? I lived it. The last time I was sick from air pollution was in Shanghai.

This new, peaceful world changed several weeks ago. Workers came with power tools and mud-caked boots. I should have fled, but I stayed at my computer as a stupid, stubborn, former United States Marine would.

covered office furniture

My office has three doors. One that leads toward the other rooms and one that opens to the outside. Then there is the door that opens to the space under the second story and the foundation. That crew drilled, pounded, cut and tracked dirt from room to room—always in my office. I had trouble concentrating. I suffered from memory loss. Plastic tarps covered most of the furniture, and I couldn’t find things. When I left the office to find a moment of peace, I covered the computer and printers with a bed sheet. The noise reminded me of combat but worse, because I was nineteen and then twenty when I was in Vietnam—noise did not bother me as it does now.

Concrete dust floated through the air and my sinuses and lungs rebelled, so I put on a 3M mask with two pink HEPA filters attached. The last time I wore a mask like this was when I was teaching. I searched the garage and found the noise suppresser to help mute the pounding and drilling.  I looked like an explorer to Mars or a survivor of trench warfare struggling to write while the frigid air froze my fingers.

The crew had arrived to bolster the foundation against future earthquakes that might never arrive. Even if a hard tumbler did visit, I doubt that all that work would hold our sixty-year old hillside house together. It still might slide down the hill into the middle of the street blocking traffic.

I could have moved, but I didn’t want to disconnect all the cables and cart the equipment to another room for a few days to escape the dust and noise—something (I soon discovered) that would have been impossible without checking into a hotel.

Even with a noise suppresser covering my ears, muted sounds intruded and the last place I wanted to be was in this chair writing about China, the Vietnam War or being a teacher in the tortured American public schools. I stuck with it for days as my suppressed anger fueled by PTSD started to simmer and fume.

It was a relief when the workers finished. I thought I was going to have the tranquility back where the only noise would be the click of the keys as my warmed hands flew across the keyboard meeting my Blogging goals.

But the workers left something behind.

I started sneezing. My sinuses ran hundred mile marathons. I went to the doctor and he prescribed medications that didn’t work. The sneezing went volcanic—like Mt. Saint Helena blowing its top.  One time, I sneezed so bad, I blew the 3M mask off my face—so much for a mask that’s supposed to protect you from every gas and plague Islamic terrorists can brew. Upstairs or outside, I was fine. But in my office, I was a goner. “Blam, blam, balm,” my nose exploded like rapid shots from a fifty-caliber submachine gun.

I could have opened windows, but it’s been raining for weeks.  The sky has been overcast.  The air breezy and cold.  Then today, the sun came out and I finally let the outside in and the sneezing stopped—I’m crossing my fingers and knocking on wood. I’m afraid to close the windows, but night will come and with it lower temperatures. I fear that whatever industrial poison is haunting my once tranquil office space might return.


Environmentalism in China (Viewed as Single Page)

January 28, 2010

To understand why China is often the focus of so much attention when it comes to pollution, such as carbon emissions from oil, coal, gasoline, diesel and burning wood, we should start where the industrial revolution began and that is in the West (more than two centuries ago). I will start with an “old” friend that believes environmentalists worship the environment instead of God. I do not agree.

Instead, I see environmentalism as humanity’s effort to save the world from a potential catastrophe. If anything, the Christian God would support environmentalism, since He entrusted the earth to humanity’s care. Nowhere in Genesis or the Bible does God tell man to destroy and/or pollute the earth.

In fact, He says in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Then, in Numbers 35:33, the Christian Bible says, “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are…” and 35:34, “Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit…”

My “old” friend, that claims Global Warming is a hoax, has joined those that shout “no” loudest at the scientific theories that current trends in Global Warming are caused by carbon emissions, which “may” create what is known as greenhouse gasses that become trapped in the atmosphere.

If you want to learn more about the theory behind Global Warming, visit the Environmental Defense Fund and read the Basics of Global Warming, which my “old” friend believes is a hoax.

My “old” friend may also be described as an evangelical, born-again Christian, conservative libertarian that believes everything bad that happens is the fault of liberals. He also listens to neoconservative talk show host Dennis Prager and belongs to a chapter of the Dennis Prager fan club, which meets regularly.

If you decide to discover what Dennis Prager preaches to his fans, I suggest reading Why Liberals Fear Global Warming more Than Conservatives Do. You may quickly learn how an American radio talk-show host uses emotional language to manipulate the people that “worship” what he preaches daily.


Black Carbon causes an estimated 1.5 million deaths per year.

However, when we return to what the Christian Bible says about pollution, how guilty is the US (and American conservatives such as Dennis Prager and his fans) when it comes to what the Christian Bible says not to do?

To discover the answer, we will focus on Black Carbon and CO2 emissions as a source of pollution.

Between 1990 and 2008, according to the United Nations Statistics Division, the US produced 314.6 million metric tons of CO2, while China produced 57.23 million metric tons. One metric ton is 1,000 kg or 2,204.62 pounds, which means one million metric tons weighs one billion kg or more than two billion pounds.


Chinese Environmentalists Target Apple

In addition, in 2008, the Earth System Science Education Alliance reported, “Black soot is made up of microscopic carbon particles released during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, coal and the burning of wood)…

“Soot, we now understand, is hazardous to our health and is suspected of contributing to global warming.”

In fact, soot has only recently been identified as a major player in the loss of ice and snow in the Polar Regions.

While the US has reduced CO2 emissions from 19.7 million metric tons in 1997 (the highest point on record) to 17.5 in 2008, China increased CO2 emissions from 2.8 million metric tons to 5.3.

In 2008, the US still produced more than three times the amount of CO2 China produced.

Facts and Details.com says, “The U.S. emits about 21% of the world’s CO2 and 6.1% of the world’s Black Soot. However, the majority of today’s black carbine emissions are from developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

“China and India together account for 25-35% of global black carbon emissions.”


Using technology to confront polluters in China

What isn’t mentioned is that the US population is less than 5% of the global total while China and India together represent 36%. From these facts, it is clear that the US still pollutes more than its share of black soot and CO2 compared to China and India.

What is China doing to solve the pollution challenge before it equals the more than two hundred years of pollution from the US and Europe?

In China, the environmental movement started in recent years from the top down and the bottom up. Evidence of this fledgling movement appears in several Western media sources.

For a more detailed history, The China Daily’s Sun Xiaohua wrote A Legal Leap Forward, which starts with an accidental environmental disaster that took place the day before China passed its first ever draft of the Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China in 1979.

The man that caused the accidental environmental disaster was sentenced to two years in jail. As we all know, passing laws are easy compared to enforcing them, and it doesn’t matter if we are in the US or China. Some environmental disasters are accidents, as in this case, and some are intentional due to greed.

In The Atlantic, Christina Larson wrote China’s Nascent Environmentalism, and said, “Since 2007, I have been reporting in China (and elsewhere in Asia), looking at the efforts of China’s environmentalists, scientists, lawyers, and others to rein in their country’s enormous (I question the use of the word ‘enormous’ when we compare more than two hundred years of CO2 and Black Soot pollution in the US to China) pollution toll and related problems.

Larson says, “China may clean up its environmental mess eventually … but it almost certainly won’t do so in the same fashion as the West.”


Green Long March in China – 2009

Then Arrol Gellner, writing for SFGate of China’s environmentalist ways, says, “At China’s current rate of progress, and despite its posturing to the contrary, industrial polluters may well be brought up to Western standards within the next decade.

“What’s more,” Gellner writes, “when China decides that it’s ready to tackle its environmental problems full force, it’ll move quickly. Unlike us fiercely independent-minded Americans, the Chinese people, for the most part, are far more amenable to sweeping change being imposed from the top down – a deep-seated cultural trait that stems, not from China’s trifling time under communism, but rather from its nearly 3,500 years under dynastic rule.”

Another example by Philip P. Pan appeared in the Houston Chronicle of an environmental grass roots movement to do away with disposable wooden chopsticks. A quote by Kang Dahu, a truck driver in China says it best. “The disposable ones are such a waste! We’re destroying what little is left of our forests to make them,” said Kang, 22, who does volunteer work with several environmental groups. “Just imagine, years from now, when my grandchildren ask me what happened to all of China’s trees, I’ll have to say, `We made them into chopsticks.’ Isn’t that pitiful?”

In addition, Zhang Zhe, 24, who works for an environmental education group supported by British zoologist Jane Goodall, says, “Chopsticks are just an example. People are beginning to ponder even ordinary things.”

To discover more of how diverse this environmental awakening is in China, the October 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine introduces us to the Bird Whisperer, a Buddhist monk named Tashi Zangpo, who is saving one of the world’s rarest birds, the Tibetan bunting.

“Tashi, now 41,” Phil McKenna writes, “has crisscrossed the Tibetan plateau drawing 400 bird species. He is currently compiling a field guide that evokes the work of John James Audubon or Roger Tory Peterson. He wears prayer beads on one wrist and a digital watch with altimeter and compass on the other.”

However, in America, regardless of what is happening in Asia, China is often criticized in the media and by the public (after reading about it in the media) for air pollution blowing more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific to the United States.


The breathing earth

From Where Does Our Pollution Go, we learn that “Winds can carry pollution around the planet, therefore, all nations are connected by air currents,” and then from MSNBC, we discover that the U.S. exports its air pollution to Europe.

When I Googled “air pollution from China to America”, the results were more than 9.4 million hits, but when I searched “air pollution from America to Europe”, there were more than 17 million.

MSNBC’s Michael Schirber of Live Science reported in 2005, that “On Nov. 14, 2001, a low-pressure system caused a large mass of air huddled over the eastern half of the United States to rise up several miles, where it was then carried by the jet stream to Europe,” which resulted in a 33% increase in ozone levels in the Alps.

In addition, Schirber says, “European pollution has been tracked to Asia, as well as the Arctic…” He compares the wind to a conveyor belt.

In fact, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research reported in October 2009 that when it comes to global air pollution, what goes around comes around. “Air pollution from factories, traffic, and power plants in Asia wafts over the Pacific Ocean to the United States, while pollutants produced in the United States wind up in Europe.”

Then there are those in America and Europe (and elsewhere in the world) that claim CO2 is not a pollutant and is not contributing to Global Warming.


Ocean Acidification — Changing Planet — As higher amounts of carbon dioxide become absorbed by the oceans, some marine organisms are finding it is a struggle to survive

For such naysayers, in January 2008, a Stanford Report written by Louis Bergeron reported on a study conducted by a Stanford scientist that linked carbon dioxide emissions to increased deaths.

“For the first time,” Bergeron wrote, there were direct links between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increases in human mortality…

The study detailed how for each increase of 1 degree Celsius caused by carbon dioxide, the resulting air pollution would lead annually to about a thousand additional deaths and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma in the United States.

So, next time you hear someone criticize China for air pollution crossing the Pacific Ocean to the US, consider the amount of CO2 and Black Soot China produced in the last thirty years of industrialization compared to the UK, Europe and America’s more than two centuries.

Once you know the facts and you were given a choice to live in Europe or America, where would the air probably be cleaner/healthier?

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top  right-hand side of this page.

About iLook China

Note: This post first appeared as a four part series on October 31, 2011 in Environmentalism in China – Part 1