Archive for the ‘global warming’ Category

Obama’s Biggest Challenge of All: China

November 29, 2008

The single most important challenge for the new administration—one with the potential to shape the 21st century—is China. As goes China, so go 1.3 billion men, women and children—one out of every five people on the planet.

China’s economy is now roughly half the size of America’s; in three decades, the two are likely to be about equal. What the Chinese eat, how much (or whether) they drive, where and how they choose to live, work and play: all will have an enormous impact on the availability and price of energy, the temperature of the planet and the prosperity of mankind.

By Richard Haass
Newsweek

Beijing’s foreign policy is no less important. A cooperative China could help stem the spread of nuclear materials and weapons, maintain an open global trading and financial system, secure energy supplies, frustrate terrorists, prevent pandemics and slow climate change. A hostile or simply noncooperative China, on the other hand, would make it that much more difficult for the United States and its allies to tame the most dangerous facets of globalization. But the emergence of a cooperative China is anything but inevitable. That is why Washington needs a new approach to Beijing. Think of it as “integration.”

In this March 31, 2008 file photo, a worker on a boat clears ... 
A  worker on a boat clears garbage from the Yellow River in Lanzhou in northwest China’s Gansu province. Newly released survey results show water quality along one third of China’s famed Yellow River has fallen below the lowest levels measured due to massive pollution. China’s second-longest river has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in the last few years, as discharge from factories increases and water levels drop due to diversion for booming cities.(AP Photo/File)

Integration should be for this era what containment was for the previous one. Our goal should be to make China a pillar of a globalized world, too deeply invested to disrupt its smooth functioning. The aim is ambitious, even optimistic, but not unrealistic. The United States and China need each other. Neither wants to go to war over Taiwan, to see another conflict on the Korean Peninsula or to see world oil prices quadruple as a result of a military strike on Iran. Even more than that, China needs access to the U.S. market for its exports in order to maintain economic growth and domestic political stability. Americans, in addition to benefiting from low-cost Chinese imports, need Beijing to manage its large dollar reserves responsibly.

Americans must accept China’s rise. There’s no guarantee we could prevent it anyway, and the attempt would only worsen the rivalry. We should not exaggerate China’s strength or the threat it poses. China’s military, for all its improvements, is still a generation behind America’s. And we should resist any calls to block China’s access to the U.S. market. Trade and investment aren’t just beneficial on their own terms; they also contribute to the web of ties that would bind China into an orderly world order.

Read the rest:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/171259

Chinese People's Liberation Army troops stand in their formation ... 
Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops stand in their formation at a parade ground during the annual rotation of military personnel in Hong Kong November 25, 2008.REUTERS/Alex Hoffard/Pool (CHINA)

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
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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.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/us/politics/19climate.html?_r=1&hp

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)

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.

AFP

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.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081114/sc_afp/vietnam
skoreasteelposco_081114041832

Congress isn’t waiting for Obama

November 13, 2008

Lawmakers are unveiling plans to expand health coverage and curb global warming. And Democratic leaders have called a lame-duck session next week to discuss an auto industry bailout.
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More than two months before he is sworn in, Barack Obama already is facing a Congress busily asserting itself on the timing and details of the president-elect’s agenda, including major issues like healthcare and economic policy.

By Janet Hook, Noam N. Levey and Peter Nicholas
The Los Angeles Times
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Committee chairmen are unveiling legislation to expand health insurance coverage and curb global warming. Democratic leaders have called a lame-duck session next week to consider an auto industry bailout. And other economic stimulus measures may be enacted even before Obama is inaugurated.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
nation/la-na-agenda13-2008nov13,0,3893199.story

Obama’s Best Cabinet Line Up: Governing for The Future of America

November 11, 2008

If there is a single appointment Barack Obama could make to signal how dramatically things will change in Washington, it would be to name Albert Gore Jr. — former House member, former senator, former vice president, former presidential nominee and current Custodian of the Planet — as secretary of state. For all the other aspirants to the job, sorry — this is an inconvenient truth.

Can you imagine a bolder statement about a new direction when it comes to global warming and the general care of our abused planet? Gore has won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in this area (and an Oscar, to boot), and his appointment would signal a dramatic shift from the indifference of the Bush era with its cold shoulder to the Kyoto treaty. In one stroke, the United States would emerge as the leader of nations in the effort to save the planet from ourselves — and could prepare for the consequences of a changed world.

The new president’s urgent priority has to be the economy. He has no other choice. But given that Obama has no foreign policy background, he needs a secretary of state who can really run the nation’s foreign affairs while the attention of the White House is largely directed elsewhere. Others are capable of handling the job, including, of course, Sen. John Kerry, who is being mentioned. But Gore has as much experience and something else as well — he was right on the Persian Gulf War (voted yes) and right on the Iraq war (like Obama, he opposed it from the start).

By Richard Cohen
The Washington Post

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/10
/AR2008111002478.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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
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China: 70% of waterways and 90% of underground water polluted
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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/

China’s Premier: Rich nations should ditch ‘unsustainable’ lifestyles

November 7, 2008

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a top UN official urged industrialised nations Friday to alter their lifestyles and not let the global financial crisis hamper climate change efforts.


Above: Wen Jiabao

Industrialised nations should also help developing countries respond to climate change, Wen said at the opening of a two-day international meeting on global warming in Beijing.

“The developed countries have a responsibility and an obligation to respond to global climate change by altering their unsustainable way of life,” the state news agency Xinhua quoted him as saying.

“As the global financial crisis spreads and worsens, and the world economy slows down, the international community must not waver in its determination to tackle climate change.”

AFP

The gathering in Beijing is focused on the development and transfer of technology that can help tackle climate change ahead of next month’s talks on creating a new global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Representatives from 76 nations are attending.

China proposed last week that rich nations devote one percent of their economic output to helping poor countries fight global warming.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Friday a lack of firm funding commitments could derail efforts to cut emissions in developing countries, especially during the financial crisis.

“The financial crisis is definitely going to affect international climate change policy,” he said.

But “the financial crisis offers the world an opportunity to move away from toxic investments and make sustainable investments, for example into low emissions energy infrastructure,” he said.

In the landmark Kyoto Protocol, rich nations agreed to targets for cutting greenhouse gases as well as helping to transfer clean technology to developing nations to help them reduce their emissions.

But much of the pledged transfers are not happening, said de Boer.

“Industrial countries must meet their technology transfer obligations,” he told journalists.

“Given their historical responsibility for the problem, it is essential that industrialised countries take the lead in reducing emissions and that they show real leadership (in climate change negotiations).”

Formal negotiations on a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012 will begin in Poznan, Poland next month, with the UN hoping that a new agreement will be ready by the end of 2009, de Boer said.

“Governments have used 2008 to gather information and clarify their positions on a number of topics. At Poznan governments need to go into full negotiation mode and make concrete results,” he said.

China has long resisted calls to join rich nations in setting targets for emissions cuts, saying its relatively low per capita emissions and recent emergence as a major source of greenhouse gases should exempt it from action.

Scientists said in September that China had leapfrogged the United States as the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the principal gases that cause global warming.

Power struggle may open rift among House Democrats

November 7, 2008

Opening a split among congressional Democrats that could affect President-elect Barack Obama’s efforts to curb global warming, a California environmentalist is trying to wrest control of a crucial House committee from its chairman, who is the automobile industry’s strongest ally in fighting stricter antipollution standards.

By Janet Hook
The Los Angeles Times

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) has announced that he wants to replace Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will take the lead on Obama’s signature issues of energy, global warming and healthcare.

Henry Waxman
Above: Henry Waxman

Over the years, Dingell has given invaluable support to the auto companies’ fights against pollution and fuel economy standards that they considered unrealistic, and Waxman’s challenge to his leadership is the culmination of a decades-long rivalry between the two powerful lawmakers, the panel’s top two Democrats.

The outcome of the fight could affect whether action on Obama’s energy agenda will be tilted toward the interests of Rust Belt industrial Democrats or more aggressive antipollution efforts that California has spearheaded.

It opens divisions among triumphant Democrats just as they come off a landmark election that put Obama in the White House and expanded the party’s majorities in the House and Senate — and it is a window into how power struggles among Democrats may intensify now that there is so much more power to wield.

Dingell allies say Waxman’s unexpected move is divisive and will sow dissent just as the party should be rallying together.

“There is no basis for removing Chairman Dingell,” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said in a conference call with Dingell supporters. “The implication that Mr. Dingell wouldn’t move environmental legislation as quickly as Mr. Waxman has no basis in reality.”

In a letter Thursday to all House Democrats, Dingell said he was better prepared to move the Obama agenda and insisted that he was committed to addressing the climate change problem.

“An Obama presidency will allow us to quickly complete our work and protect the environment,” he wrote.

The Obama transition team has not weighed in on the dispute, but the person managing congressional relations for the team is Phil Schiliro, a former longtime Waxman aide. Global warming is a thorny issue for Obama because there are high expectations for him to address the problem. At the same time, Obama carried Michigan and must be concerned about the survival of the U.S. auto industry.

Dingell, who in the Democratic primaries endorsed the presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, represents a district near Detroit, and the loss of his position would be seen as a blow to the auto industry at a particularly trying time. Detroit is being battered by declining car sales, high gas prices and an economy in turmoil. In a sign of the political sensitivity of the fight, several auto industry spokesmen declined to comment on the choice between Dingell and Waxman.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is officially neutral in the dispute, but she is known to be sympathetic to Waxman’s positions on the environment and has repeatedly crossed swords with Dingell over the years:

* In 2002, Pelosi endorsed an unsuccessful primary challenger to Dingell.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about economic stimulus plans ...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 5, 2008.(Mitch Dumke/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-
energy7-2008nov07,0,1179722.story

China: Your Worst Environmental Nighmare

November 7, 2008

I admit I have a deep distrust for anything the communist leadership and the state controlled media of China proclaims.  But when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated before a United Nations conference on the environment Friday China’s position that, as a developing country, it had no real role in the world’s environment and global warming issues, I was again dismayed and angry.

China’s sprawling and largely unregulated coal-fired industries are spreading a brown pall over the globe.  Every household in China cooks and heats with coal.  Coal soot blackens Chinese buildings and homes, inside and out, like never before seen on earth, even in Scotland 100 years ago.  And scientific study after scientific study has said that Chinese people die premature deaths in the millions due to pollution.

Above: Tiananmen Square in Beijing, just before this summer’s Olympics.  Photo: Odid Bality, Associated Press.
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Wen Jiabao, a scientist, a geologist in fact, knows all this to be true.  But to continue making inexpensive goodies for your local Wall Mart which keeps the Chinese people employed and earns China a tidy profit, Mr. Wen will continue to foster the myth, in fact the lie, that it took decades for the “developed nations” to learn to be environmentally smart so therefore China has decades to do the same.

The immensity of China’s destruction of the earth is almost unfathonable.  Seventy percent of China’s rivers and inland waters are polluted and some 90% of its ground water has pesticide and toxic levels of fertiliter and animal dung in it.  The air in China pegs all measurement instruments with pollution like an earthquake registering a “ten” on the Richter scale.  The Chinese government has almost no control over its far-flung industries, as the poisoned milk and other food product scandals proved.  So now China, even when equipped with thousands of ways learned in the West to cut down on pollution, is urging the world to look the other way.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks to Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard in Beijing on Friday.

Above: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks to Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard in Beijing on Friday.

The world should say “No way” to China on pollution and the environment.

But as the decision is to be made at the United Nations, where other “developing nations” dominate and the United States is the Great Satan, expect the U.S. and other Western nations to work their butts off on the environment on a fool’s errand for years to come: because the destruction of our planet earth by China will continue unabated as long as the West remains “tolerant” and accepts such lies as those spewed by Mr. Wen.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
November 7, 2008

Related:
China: Dodges All Responsibility, Says Rich Nations Must Take Climate Lead

China: 70% of waterways and 90% of underground water polluted

China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

Cyclists pass through thick pollution from a factory in Yutian, ... 
Cyclists pass through thick pollution from a factory in Yutian, 2006. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a top UN official urged industrialised nations Friday to alter their lifestyles and not let the global financial crisis hamper climate change efforts.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)
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The New York Times’ produced a nine article series on pollution in China before this summer’s Olympics.  Here is an exerpt:

In its rush to re-create the industrial revolution that made the West rich, China has absorbed most of the major industries that once made the West dirty. Spurred by strong state support, Chinese companies have become the dominant makers of steel, coke, aluminum, cement, chemicals, leather, paper and other goods that faced high costs, including tougher environmental rules, in other parts of the world. China has become the world’s factory, but also its smokestack.

This mass shift of polluting industries has blighted China’s economic rise. Double-digit growth rates have done less to improve people’s lives when the damages to the air, land, water and human health are considered, some economists say. Outmoded production equipment will have to be replaced or retrofitted at high cost if the country intends to reduce pollution.

China’s worsening environment has also upended the geopolitics of global warming. It produces and exports so many goods once made in the West that many wealthy countries can boast of declining carbon emissions, even while the world’s overall emissions are rising quickly.

Read more and link to other articles:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/21/world/asia/21transfer.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
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China, Air Pollution and the Olympics

In China, airborne pollution causes more than 650,000 premature deaths a year, according to medical professionals.

·”International experts said that hundreds of millions of Chinese are exposed every day to the potentially lethal mix of soot particles and smog.” New York Times, Dec. 9, 2007.

• A UN Environment Report indicated that high levels of air pollution were a “legitimate concern” for anyone taking part in the Beijing Olympics.

• Beijing is so choked with smog that athletes are concerned about competing. In fact on 9 April Olympic chief Jacques Rogge conceded that air pollution was an issue for athletes’ health in Beijing during the Games. He earlier denied fears over pollution, but then suggested that certain events of more than one hour could be exacerbated by the weather. The marathon, road cycling, triathlon, open water swimming and race walking are the events. Most at risk are the marathon, road cycling, triathlon, open water swimming and race walking.

• Marathon record-holder Haile Gebrselassie withdrew from the Olympic event because of the pollution.

• New Zealand and American athletes wore face masks frequently while in Beijing.

• Some countries such as Britain, Australian and Canada delayed their teams’ arrivals in Beijing until the last possible moment to protect their athletes from air pollution.

• The Daily Telegraph reported that Britain’s swimming team trained in Osaka, Japan instead of in China nbecause of the air pollution. The Canadian team provided athletes with asthma inhalers.

• In an interview with the BBC, the World Health Organization’s Dr. Michal Krzyzanowski warned visitors to Beijing that “high pollution levels may be a trigger to serious problems if they already have, for instance, cardio-vascular disease. Those who come with asthma may suffer attacks.”