Archive for the ‘pollution’ 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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Vietnam environment minister proposes higher fines for polluters

November 11, 2008

Vietnam’s environment minister on Tuesday proposed raising penalties for industrial polluters and admitted that current fines are too low to act as effective deterrents.

Pham Khoi Nguyen was answering questions in the national assembly following a series of pollution scandals in which companies from Taiwan and other countries have been caught pumping toxic wastewater into rivers.

Nguyen, the minister for natural resources and the environment, admitted that the problem was widespread and that after over a decade of rapid industrialisation “Vietnam’s environment now is seriously polluted.”

“At present, Vietnam has 110 industrial zones in operation,” the minister said, adding that less than one third of them had adequate treatment systems for wastewater and other toxic effluent.

The government was aware of at least 4,000 factories and other entities now polluting rivers and the air, he said, but he added that his ministry lacked the resources and staff to effectively crack down on them.

Nguyen said environmental inspectors have to inform factories of site visits in advance, and that polluting factories now face maximum fines of just 70 million dong (4,100 dollars) per breach of regulations.

“Many factories accept paying the fine in order to operate,” he said. “The level of the fine is not high enough to be a threat. We have proposed raising the maximum fine to 500 million dong (29,800 dollars).”

–AFP

To Rescue the Economy: How Much Government?

November 9, 2008

What is the right amount of government intervention in the American economy?  That is the question.

China manages its economy from the halls of the Beijing communist government’s headquarters.  Yet the communist government, unable even to assure people of basic safeties like pure and untainted food, often blames other “criminals” that they themselves are unable to deter, prevent or defend against.  Even today, China wants Western nations to clean up the environmental disaster that is China today: despite the fact that China’s communists have gotten unbelievably wealthy by ignoring the environmental lessons learned in the West for decades.

Personally, the fact that China’s ground water is now polluted to a degree of about 90% doesn’t sound like an issue the West should have to deal with: the Chinese communists have allowed filth to proliferate and now they live in filth.  Corrective action is up to them.

A policeman stands gaurd amid the smog in Beijing's Tiananmen Square one month before the Olympic Games start.
Above: A policeman stands gaurd amid the smog in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square one month before the Olympic Games started this summer.  Photo: Reuters

So we know, or should know, that too much government intervention may not be a good thing.  Judging from the vast number of pages of our Tax Code and the fact that even smart accountants often have to consult “outside experts” to figure their own taxes, my faith in the U.S. government’s ability to manage the economy and my life is, let us say, tenuous…..

This brings us to the “blame game” of the American and global economic and financial meltdown.  Russia blames the U.S.  But nobody who got rich due to the lavish practices of spending and lending seems to have been taken to account.  They got rich and they got away.

It might just be me but I believe in accountability — which seems to be gone in our modern society. 

Who paid for the economic meltdown? 

Apparently: you and me.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”  Barney Frank, quoted by The New York Times, said this on September 11, 2003.  Had appropriate action been taken then perhaps we woulnd’t be in this mess.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank listens ... 
Above: House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank listens during testimony before the committee in a hearing on ‘the Future of Financial Services Regulation,’ on Capitol Hill, October 21, 2008.(Mitch Dumke/Reuters)

Republicans generally want less regulation.  Democrats generally want more.  That is the crux of the issue, as I see it.

And there is already at least some government involvement in the U.S. economy, as Walter E. Williams points out, (see link below) thanks to the Congress, BATF, CAA, CFTC, CPSC, DEA, EEOC, EPA, FAA, FCC, FDA, FDIC, FEMA, FERC, FRB, FTC, INS, IRS, NHTSA, NIH, NLRB, OHSA, SEC, the Departments of: Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Education, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, Transportation, other federal agenciesand etc…..

Related:
 Capitalism, fiscal woes; contempt for economic liberty

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
.
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.

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.”

China: 60 Minutes Crew Filming Toxic “E-Waste” Operation Jumped By Thugs

November 6, 2008

When 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and his crew went to China to record the black market dismantling of electronic waste, or “e-waste,” the experience was almost as hazardous for the 60 Minutes team as working with the toxic material is for poor Chinese workers.

Jumped by a gang of men overseeing the e-waste operations who tried to take the CBS team’s cameras, Pelley’s crew managed to escape and bring back footage of the hazardous activities. Pelley’s investigation will be broadcast this Sunday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

The Chinese attackers were trying to protect a lucrative business of mining the e-waste-junked computers, televisions and other old electronic products-for valuable components, including gold. “They’re afraid of being found out. This is smuggling. This is illegal,” says Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network, a group working to stop the dumping of toxic materials in poor countries that certifies ethical e-waste recyclers in the United States. “A lot of people are turning a blind eye here. And if somebody makes enough noise, they’re afraid this is all going to dry up.”

E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley’s team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, outlines the e-waste pollutants and their effects. “Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chloride, all of these materials have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage, kidney disease, to mutations, cancers,” he tells Pelley. And there’s no shortage of refuse that contains these hazardous materials. “We throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States…we throw out over 100 million cell phones every year,” says Hershkowitz.

Related:
China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

Read the rest; watch the video:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/06/60minutes/main4579229.shtml

Vietnam Farmers Sue Vedan for Damage to Aquaculture

October 23, 2008

By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) — Vietnamese farmers will sue Vedan Vietnam Co. a monosodium-glutamate maker, for damaging aquaculture by releasing untreated waste into a river, Vietnam News reported, citing Nguyen Van Phung, vice president of the Ho Chi Minh City Farmers Association.

Many farmers are now in debt after more than 300 hectares (741 acres) of land in Thanh An commune in Ho Chi Minh City that farmed clams and oysters have become severely polluted and can no longer be cultivated, the report said, citing Phung.

The Vietnamese government earlier this month suspended Vedan Vietnam’s operations and fined the company for improperly discharging effluent and chemicals into the Thi Vai River near Ho Chi Minh City. Vedan Vietnam is a unit of Hong Kong-based Vedan International Holdings Ltd.

Vietnam to Tighten Environmental Monitoring After Fining, Suspending Operations of Company

October 15, 2008

By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — Vietnam will tighten surveillance of companies’ production after suspending operations of Vedan Vietnam Co. a Hong Kong-invested monosodium glutamate maker, on environmental faults, the government’s Web site said.

“Given the lessons learned from Vedan’s environmental violations, which caused serious consequences, the Prime Minister requested heads of ministries and provinces not to lose control of environmental protection,” the statement said. “We must make sure the next generations don’t pay for this.”

Foreign-investment commitments to Vietnam increased almost fivefold in the first nine months, leading to increased monitoring of factories’ activities in rural areas.

The government earlier this month suspended Vedan’s operations and ordered the company to pay 127.3 billion dong ($7.7 million) by Nov. 6 for improperly discharging effluent and chemicals into a river. Vedan’s Vietnam unit accounted for half of Hong Kong-based Vedan International Holdings Ltd.’s revenue last year, according to Bloomberg data.

The government will use the money paid by Vedan to clean up the Thi Vai river in southern Vietnam, according to today’s statement. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also asked ministries to tighten environmental-protection regulations if necessary, the statement said.

Miwon Vietnam Co., a unit of Seoul-based Daesang Holdings Co., was inspected by environmental-protection authorities this month, Vietnam News Agency reported Oct. 8. The monosodium- glutamate maker is based in the northern province of Phu Tho.

Local authorities have proposed the government suspend the operations of Miwon’s drainage system, which was found to be releasing untreated waste water into a river near Hanoi, the report said. The inspection came after complaints from local residents about health problems and signs of air and water pollution in the area around the factory, VNA said.

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

October 15, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) – Illegal factories pumping arsenic and other chemicals into rivers have left farmers in a heavily populated area of central China with skin problems and failing crops, state press reported on Wednesday.

A farmer tends to his crop at his farm near the town of Jianli ... 
A farmer tends to his crop at his farm near the town of Jianli in central China’s Hubei province. Illegal factories pumping arsenic and other chemicals into rivers have left farmers in Jianli and other areas of central China with skin problems and failing crops, state press reported on Wednesday.(AFP/File)

Thirteen illegal alloy smelting plants in Hubei that defied government efforts to close them down two years ago were finally shut this week, the China Daily reported.

“We removed the plants in 2006, but they came back strong this year,” the China Daily quoted Wen Qingsong, deputy head of the Hubei environmental protection bureau, as saying.

“We will investigate how many farmers were affected, who is responsible and whether there was misconduct by local officials.”

The China Daily reported that farmers in Hubei’s Jianli county, which has a population of 1.5 million people, suffered severe rashes and other skin ailments due to the waste being emitted by the factories.

The factories were illegally discharging arsenic as well as another highly toxic chemical, cadmium, into rivers, with the water then being used on cotton farms and other agricultural land.

“We can only leave the cotton to rot now,” farmer Shi Qiang said, according to the China Daily.

“Once we get in the field, we become itchy all over the body. Our skin even swells up and becomes rotten.”

Arsenic and cadmium can both cause cancer in humans, as well as other deadly conditions.

Pollution incidents such as the one in Hubei have become a disastrously frequent occurrence in China over the past three decades as the nation’s environment has been often sacrificed in the quest for economic growth.

More than 70 percent of China’s waterways and 90 percent of its underground water are polluted, according to previously released government figures.

Related:
Tainted China water sickens 450