Archive for the ‘fires’ 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

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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)

India test-fires surface-to-surface missile

November 12, 2008

India successfully test-fired a medium-range, surface-to surface missile on Wednesday, the defense ministry said.

The new Shourya (Valor) missile has a range of 375 miles (600 kilometers), the ministry said in a statement that hailed the technology as “state of the art.”

India and longtime rival Pakistan routinely test-fire missiles. They usually notify each other ahead of missile launches in keeping with an agreement between the two nations.

“The high maneuverability of the missile makes it less vulnerable to available anti-missile defense systems,” the ministry said.

A ministry official earlier said the weapon tested was a nuclear-capable K-15 missile, an undersea submarine-launched ballistic missile with a range of up to 435 miles (700 kilometers). He spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

The Shourya missile was fired from a test range in Balasore in eastern Orissa state, nearly 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) southeast of New Delhi, the ministry said.

India’s current crop of missiles are mostly intended for confronting neighboring archrival Pakistan, but the country’s longest-range missile, the Agni 3, is designed to travel 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) — putting China‘s major cities well into range, as well as targets deep in the Middle East.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947. They have been holding peace talks since 1994 aimed at resolving their differences, including their dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

By ASHOK SHARMA, Associated Press Writer