Archive for the ‘environmental’ Category

Obama Affirms Climate Change Goals

November 18, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama confirmed on Tuesday that he plans to stick to the aggressive targets he had set earlier for fighting climate change and for spurring the development of clean-energy technology, saying, “Delay is no longer an option.”
A Chinese man cycles past chimney of a coal-burning power plant ... 
A Chinese man cycles past chimney of a coal-burning power plant in Shenyang, north China’s Liaoning province, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. The head of the U.N.’s climate change body said Friday he hopes the United States will take a more active role in fighting global warming once Barack Obama becomes president in January.(AP Photo)

The remarks were striking for being made in what was billed as a “surprise taped statement,” before a bipartisan conference on climate change in Los Angeles that included governors who have battled the Bush administration by trying to pass stricter pollution standards than federal guidelines require.

Officials from at least 10 other countries were also present, and Mr. Obama addressed his comments to them when he said, “Solving this problem will require all of us working together.” He said he had asked lawmakers who will attend a climate-change conference next month in Poland to report back to him.

By Brian Knowlton
The New York Times

Mr. Obama’s remarks were sure to be welcomed by Europeans and others who have been urging the administration to take tougher measures ever since President turned his back on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change in 2001.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, said the call for legislation to cap emissions, one of the first specific policy statements Mr. Obama has made since his election, was a particularly important signal that he will, as he promised during the campaign, make global warming a top priority.

“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” Mr. Obama said.

“Denial is no longer an acceptable response,” he added. “The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.”

It appeared significant that Mr. Obama, who has stayed largely out of sight at his offices in Chicago since being elected, chose to use such strong language on global warming so early in his transition period. Still, it remains unclear that the current financial crisis and grim economic outlook will allow him to move as quickly as he might like.

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Vietnam Rejects Steel Mill for Environmental Concerns

November 14, 2008

Vietnam has rejected a proposal by South Korea’s Posco Group to build a 5.4-billion-dollar steel mill near a coastal resort, citing environmental concerns, state media reported on Friday.

The hot-rolled steel mill proposed for south-central Nha Trang’s Van Phong Bay would have breached environmental protection rules, said a decision from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, according to the Tien Phong (Pioneer) daily.


The headquarters of POSCO in Seoul. Vietnam has rejected a proposal ... 
The headquarters of POSCO in Seoul. Vietnam has rejected a proposal by the South Korean group to build a 5.4-billion-dollar steel mill near a coastal resort, citing environmental concerns(AFP/File/Jung Yeon-Je)

The newspaper, and other media reports, said another reason the government scrapped the project was that it would have clashed with the planned development of a major container port in Van Phong Bay.

Dung asked Khanh Hoa province leaders to discuss other possible sites for the mill, according to the news website VietnamNet.

The premier, in a televised address to the national assembly on Thursday, said the communist government had “refused a project worth 4-5 billion dollars in steel” for environmental reasons, without naming the project.

He added that the government was determined to prevent further pollution in the country of 86 million people, where rapid industrialisation since the 1990s has caused widespread river and air contamination.

In January local authorities had given Posco and local ship builder Vinashin the green light to build the mill, including a 1,000-megawatt power plant.

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Nitrates in drinking water in Philippines, Thailand

November 22, 2007

(AFP)Thousands of people in rural Thailand and the Philippines face serious health problems from drinking water contaminated with nitrates, a report by the environmental group Greenpeace said Thursday.

The study released in Bangkok and Manila said intensive agricultural practices and excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers had polluted artesian wells used for drinking water.

Greenpeace said it sampled water from 30 percent of all groundwater wells from both countries and found nitrate levels above the World Health Organization’s safety limit.

The report said contamination was greatest in those areas that used large quantities of nitrogen fertilizers.

It said the greatest risk of nitrate poisoning was “blue baby syndrome”, which occurs in infants given nitrate-laden water, and particularly affects babies under four months. It can cause headaches, stupor, fatigue, coma, convulsions, asphyxia and even death, the report said.

Nitrate-contaminated drinking water can also potentially lead to cancers of the digestive tract and has been associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as bladder and ovarian cancer, it added.

“Communities think that the water they drink every day is clean because physically, it doesn’t smell bad or look bad. But it is actually laced with nitrates from fertilizers which people don’t normally associate with pollution,” Greenpeace campaigner Daniel Ocampo said in a statement.

“This report shows that unless governments implement policies to ensure the proper use and application of fertilizers in agriculture, we will lose more of our valuable water resources.

Ocampo called for fertilizer subsidies to be phased out and reduced use of the chemicals.

Coal’s other victim: China’s history

November 5, 2007

By Michael Casey
AP Environmental Writer
November 4, 2007

LESHAN, China –A few years back, the Leshan Giant Buddha started to weep.

Or so some locals imagined when black streaks appeared on the rose-colored cheeks of the towering 7th-century figure, hewn from sandstone cliffs in the forests of southern China. They worried they had angered the religious icon.

The culprit, it turned out, was the region’s growing number of coal-fired power plants. Their smokestacks spew toxic gases into the air, which return to earth as acid rain. Over time, the Buddha’s nose turned black and curls of hair began to fall from its head.
Leshan Giant Buddha

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Beijing’s Pollution Rises in 4-Day Test Of Restricted Driving

August 21, 2007

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A10

BEIJING, Aug. 20 — Despite a move by authorities to slash the number of motorists in Beijing by more than a million during a pre-Olympics pollution test, the city’s skies remained a hazy white Monday evening and pollution levels showed a slight increase over the four-day trial period, Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau said.

A top Chinese environmental official attributed the increase to humid weather and said pollution levels had been higher just before the test began.

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China is one of the world's most-polluted countries. Most of the fine dust that pollutes Beijing comes from industry in the nearby Heibei province.

If all that pollution is not from the cars, how on earth is it produced?