Archive for the ‘coal’ Category

China’s coal fires belch fumes, worsening global warming

November 16, 2008

The barren hillsides give a hint of the inferno underfoot. White smoke billows from cracks in the earth, venting a sulfurous rotten smell into the air. The rocky ground is hot to the touch, and heat penetrates the soles of shoes.

Tourists walk through heavy fog over Tiananmen Square in Beijing ...
Tourists walk through heavy fog over Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 2007. China warned its heavy dependence on coal to fuel its fast-growing economy made it difficult to control greenhouse gas emissions, but said fighting global warming remained imperative.(AFP/File/Teh Eng Koon)

Beneath some rocks, an eerie red glow betrays an unseen hell: the epicenter of a severe underground coal fire.

“Don’t stay too long,” warned Ma Ping , a retired coal miner. “The gases are poisonous.”

Another miner tugs on the sleeve of a visitor.

“You can cook a potato here,” said Zhou Ningsheng, his face still black from a just-finished shift, as he pointed to a vent in the earth. “You can see with your own eyes.”

China has the worst underground coal fires of any country on Earth. The fires destroy as much as 20 million tons of coal annually, nearly the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual production. The costs go beyond the waste of a valuable fuel, however.

Scientists blame uncontrolled coal fires as a significant source of greenhouse gases, which lead to global warming. Unnoticed by most people, the coal fires can burn for years — even decades and longer — seeping carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that warm the atmosphere.

“Coal fires are a disaster for all of humanity. And it’s only due to global warming that people are finally beginning to pay attention,” said Guan Haiyan, a coal fire expert at Shenhua Remote Sensing and Geo-engineering Co.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/
20081116/wl_mcclatchy/3098670_1

Cyclists passes through thick pollution from a factory in Yutian, ... 
Cyclists passes through thick pollution from a factory in Yutian, China.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)
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China Wants West to Fund its Environmental Cleanup

November 9, 2008

You paid for it at Wall Mart but China had to destroy the envoronment to make it.  Now China wants your money to overhaul and clean the mess that’s left in the environment….

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China is trying to persuade rich nations to finance its fight against climate change just as the developed world is tightening its purse strings.

The Chinese government used a two-day conference in Beijing, which ended Saturday, to trumpet proposals for rich economies to devote up to 1 percent of their gross domestic product to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By Chris O’Brien
The Washington Times
November 9, 2008 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attends the opening ceremony for the Beijing high-level conference on climate change held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. (Associated Press)

Above: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attends the opening ceremony for the Beijing high-level conference on climate change held at the Great Hall of the People on Friday (Associated Press photo)

“The developed countries have a responsibility and an obligation to respond to global climate change by altering their unsustainable way of life,” Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told representatives of 76 nations.

China has been quick to grab the initiative in global climate change talks, wary of pressure over its own ballooning emissions.

Scientists say China has already overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest polluter. The Chinese government did not refer to this in a recent white paper, but a senior official admitted for the first time that China’s total emissions were “about the same as the United States.”

“Whether or not we have surpassed the United States is not in itself important,” Xie Zhenhua, a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told the conference.

The timing of the meeting was significant. A major United Nations climate change conference is to be held in the Polish city of Poznan in December. Negotiators will continue a quest to agree on a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The Chinese government recognizes the urgent need to tackle the repercussions of its explosive, and ultimately unsustainable, industrial growth. State media has widely reported that climate change is causing crop failure and increasing the risks of flooding and drought. Environment-related protests are also on the rise.

However, the central government insists that it is not prepared to impede economic progress through the implementation of environmental measures.

Instead, China is demanding that rich nations set aside between 0.7 percent and 1 percent of their GDP to help poorer nations cut emissions. That amounts to more than $300 billion a year from the Group of Seven countries. The bulk of the money would be used to transfer advanced technology to combat climate change.

Fouling our nest - 'bird's nest' stadium, Beijing by Sibad.
Above: The “Bird’s Nest” or China’s National Stadium, built for this summer’s Olympics, is covered in pollution…

Related:
China: Your Worst Environmental Nighmare
.
China: 70% of waterways and 90% of underground water polluted
.
China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/09/
china-wants-west-to-fund-its-cleanup/

Obama’s Plan To “Bankrupt the coal Industry” Costing Some Voters

November 3, 2008

The two presidential candidates stomped into the other party’s territory Sunday, with Sen. Barack Obama making a run for “red” Ohio, while Sen. John McCain battled to put “blue” Pennsylvania in his column with the aid of automated calls using Mr. Obama’s own words to accuse him of planning to bankrupt the coal industry.

By and
The Washington Times

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, targeted voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other coal-producing states with “robocalls” saying that “coal jobs, which are so important to our community, are in jeopardy. … Listen to Barack Obama’s plans to bankrupt the coal industry.”

Republican US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks ... 
Republican US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks at a campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio. White House front-runner Barack Obama dueled with John McCain on the penultimate day of the epic 2008 campaign, presenting a tableau of his loving family and vowing to change America.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Hondros)

The call then plays an excerpt from a January interview that Mr. Obama gave the San Francisco Chronicle in which he defends his proposal for a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of carbon dioxide by requiring power plants and others to buy the right to emit the harmful gas.

Listen to Obama’s plans for the coal states.

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” he said.

The Obama campaign denounced the RNC calls as taking his quote “wildly” out of context, saying that elsewhere in the interview, Mr. Obama calls the idea of banning coal burning “an illusion.”

“The point Obama is making is that we need to transition from coal-burning power plants built with old technology to plants built with advanced technologies – and that is exactly the action that will be incentivized under a cap-and-trade program,” an Obama spokesman told ABC News.

In a town-hall meeting Sunday night in New Hampshire, where environmentalism is a strong force, Mr. McCain was asked whether he would oppose coal-burning plants that don’t have carbon-sequestration technology.

“I want to tell you that I would, but I can’t,” he said, noting that the technology is still in its infancy and raises the cost of power. He also noted that current coal-burning plants, which are mostly old but provide half of the nation’s electricity, would need to be handled differently under any climate-control rules.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/03/
calls-slam-obama-in-coal-country/

China says coal addiction makes climate change fight hard

October 29, 2008

China warned Wednesday its heavy dependence on coal to fuel its fast-growing economy made it difficult to control greenhouse gas emissions, but said fighting global warming remained imperative.

by Robert J. Saiget, AFP

Releasing a policy paper on climate change, the Chinese government acknowledged the deep impact global warming had already made on the world’s most populous nation — and warned of much worse to come.

Cyclists passes through thick pollution from a factory in Yutian, ... 
Cyclists passes through thick pollution from a factory in Yutian, 2006. China warned its heavy dependence on coal to fuel its fast-growing economy made it difficult to control greenhouse gas emissions, but said fighting global warming remained imperative.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

“Extreme climate phenomena, such as high temperatures, heavy precipitation and severe droughts, have increased in frequency and intensity,” the so-called “White Paper” said.

If not alleviated, these phenomena will increase natural disasters, reduce grain yields and impact livestock raising, hampering the nation’s efforts to feed its 1.3 billion people, it said.

According to the paper, China experienced 21 warm winters from 1986 to 2007, the latter being the warmest 12 months since detailed records began in 1951.

But coal, the cheapest and most plentiful source of fuel in China, will remain the nation’s major energy source.

“(The) coal-dominated energy mix cannot be substantially changed in the near future, thus making the control of greenhouse gas emissions rather difficult,” the paper said.

China is dependent on coal for about two thirds of its energy use, which has caused it to rise quickly in recent years as a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081029/sc_afp/
chinaenergyenvironmentclimate_081029131552

Dying China oil town a warning to Beijing

April 17, 2008

By Emma Graham-Harrison

YUMEN, China (Reuters) – Dying towns are rare in booming China, but the expanses of rubble and abandoned homes that ring the once-wealthy oil centre of Yumen mark it out as one of them.

And though it is home to just a few thousand people, in a nation of over 1.3 billion, Beijing‘s stability obsessed bureaucrats are fretting about their fate.

A statue is seen near an abandoned apartment block on the outskirts ...
A statue is seen near an abandoned apartment block on the outskirts of the oil-producing town of Yumen, Gansu province.(Emma Graham-Harrison/Reuters)

They worry because Yumen’s poor, disgruntled inhabitants are the thin end of a wedge of discontent that could engulf hundreds of thousands of people within a decade unless the central government can tackle one of the more obscure but troubling legacies of past socialist policies.

The potential troublemakers live in dozens of “resource towns” scattered across China, which were built by Mao-era economic planners to exploit energy or mineral deposits regardless of how remote or inhospitable the location.

Now some seams of oil, coal and ores are starting to run out, pushing up unemployment and migration while leaving behind shells of towns that are impoverished tinderboxes of unrest.

Yumen is one of many resource towns that should probably never have existed, clinging to….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080417/lf_nm/energy_china_poverty_dc_4

Coal Can’t Fill World’s Burning Appetite

March 20, 2008

By Steven Mufson and Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 20, 2008; Page A01

Long considered an abundant, reliable and relatively cheap source of energy, coal is suddenly in short supply and high demand worldwide.

A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site at ...
A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site at Daming Coal Mine in Diaobingshan, Liaoning province February 24, 2008. China, the world’s top steel producer, is struggling with a shortage of coking coal after a power crisis in the country prompted Beijing to urge its mines to focus their efforts on raising thermal coal supplies.
REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OUT
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An untimely confluence of bad weather, flawed energy policies, low stockpiles and voracious growth in Asia‘s appetite has driven international spot prices of coal up by 50 percent or more in the past five months, surpassing the escalation in oil prices.The signs of a coal crisis have been showing up from mine mouths to factory gates and living rooms: As many as 45 ships were stacked up in Australian ports waiting for coal deliveries slowed by torrential rains. China and Vietnam, which have thrived by sending goods abroad, abruptly banned coal exports, while India‘s import demands are up. Factory hours have been shortened in parts of China, and blackouts have rippled across South Africa and Indonesia‘s most populous island, Java.

A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site in ...
A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site in Changzhi, Shanxi province.  China has the world’s deadliest mines, where explosions, cave-ins and floods killed nearly 3,800 people last year. Coal accounts for about 70 percent of electricity production for the booming economy. But efforts to improve safety have been frustrated by lax enforcement, weak safety regimes and corruption among local officials and mine owners chasing profits.
REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OU

Meanwhile mining companies are enjoying a windfall. Freight cars in Appalachia are brimming with coal for export, and old coal mines in Japan have been reopened or expanded. European and Japanese coal buyers, worried about future supplies, have begun locking in long-term contracts at high prices, and world steel and concrete prices have risen already, fueling inflation.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/19/AR2008031903859.html?hpid=topnews

China’s carbon (And Coal and Pollution) Dragon

February 22, 2008

The Christian Science Monitor
Commentary
February 22, 2008
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Try this statistic on for size: If China’s economy continues to grow at its current pace, and the Asian giant doesn’t cut its rate of energy use, by 2030 it could be emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere as the entire world does today.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event. 

And here’s another: As you read this, China is bringing on line coal-fired power plants – major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions – at the mind-boggling rate of two per week.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20080222/cm_csm/
echina_1
 

China Concerned for Mine Safety

February 18, 2008

BEIJING – China‘s work safety agency warned Monday that a new wave of accidents could be triggered as coal mines shut by the wintry weather resume operations.

The State Administration of Work Safety warned on its Web site that the buildup of deadly gases, flooding and unstable power supply at the mines could all cause problems.

Nearly 1,800 mines in the southern provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan — all hit hard by freak snowstorms — have accumulated gases because they were forced to shut down because of power cuts, it said. Another 600 mines have been flooded.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080218/ap_on_re_as/china_coal_mines_2

 
China’s Mines Killed More Than 3,700 Last Year: Corruption a Problem

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 18, 2008; Page A10

LINFEN, China — Mining has resumed in the frigid shafts, and long lines of 18-wheelers laden with coal once again clog the twisty mountain roads leading out of Linfen. This grime-covered city, where the packed snow long ago turned black and carbon-colored dust hangs in the air, has reclaimed its role as the capital of coal.

A gas explosion in December threatened Linfen’s boom ways. The accident, at a suburban mine, killed 105 workers and led authorities to halt this region’s production of the coal so badly needed to fuel China‘s roaring economy. The businesses in Linfen, in Shanxi province 400 miles southwest of Beijing, were hit hard. “They wouldn’t let anybody work,” complained Liu Wancong, who runs a small grocery in the city center.

The toll from the explosion ranked as the year’s second-worst. The government reported 3,786 miners killed in 2007, a 20 percent drop from 2006 but still making the country’s mines the most dangerous in the world.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/17/AR2008021702229.html

Blackouts in China city as snowy weather revisits

February 16, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – More than two million people have been hit by power cuts in China‘s Qujing city and thousands have been stranded on highways as snowy weather revisits the southwest region, state media said on Saturday.

China has yet to recover from the worst power shortages in recent years that have hit central and southern parts since late January, as the coldest winter in decades damaged power cables and crippled coal deliveries to power stations.

Power plants at Qujing, the second-largest city in Yunnan province, have barely enough coal reserves for three days and snow has blocked roads, Xinhua News Agency said, citing local government officials.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080216/wl_nm/china_power_shortage_dc_1

As most of China celebrates new year, a scramble continues in coal country

February 9, 2008
 DATONG, China: At the mouth of the Tashan mine, one of the largest coal mines in China, men in hard hats waited to begin another shift a quarter mile underground. Lunch break was over.
Their faces were smeared with black coal dust as a dingy white truck carried them down an underground road to the floor of the mine.
“We’re working pretty much all the time,” said a man with a small lamp hooked around his neck before he climbed onto the truck and disappeared into the dark tunnel.

In China, Thursday marked the Lunar New Year and ushered in the Year of the Rat. For Chinese families, especially those of migrant workers, the holiday offers an annual opportunity to reunite. Yet for miners here in coal country, Thursday was just another workday. Vacations have been canceled. China is too desperate for coal to allow them a day off.

This Lunar New Year will always be remembered in China as the Year of the Storm. Freak snow and ice storms left millions of people without power in southern China, stranded millions of migrant workers trying to get home and exposed the fragility of the country’s transportation system and power grid.

The crisis is now abating, but the storm also underscored China’s heavy dependence on coal and laid bare the inadequacy of the country’s system of producing, pricing and distributing coal to power plants. China is fueled by coal, which accounts for 80 percent of its electricity. But China has shown itself to be one unexpectedly large storm away from major problems. 

“What this storm has exposed is that coal is the backbone of China’s energy supply, and the market is currently tightly balanced,” said Zhang Chi, a director at the Beijing office of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “Any disruption may have serious impacts on the economy and on people’s daily lives.”

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/09/asia/09china.php