Environmental China, Issue 139, December 23 to December 30, 2011

OPINION

Air pollution hazardous to China’s economic health (The Globe and Mail, 12/21/2011) China’s overheated economy may be slowing but its capital is still bearing the brunt of extreme air pollution, an increasingly costly byproduct of the country’s rapid industrialization.

A view of China’s sooty skies from an airplane (Dino Grandoni, The Atlantic, 12/28/2011) Sure, we knew that China has air pollution problems, but this photo getting attention on Reddit drives the point home. Reddit user hayzen77 posted a side-by-side comparison of his view across the wing of a plane he flew on from Australia (left) and to China (right). Though unknown factors like time of day could explain some of the difference (the photo originated on only-sometimes reliable Reddit), damn, do China’s skies look polluted.

Too big to (totally) fail: China’s energy sector seen rising in 2012 (Murray Coleman, Barron’s, 12/28/2011) As noted yesterday, some analysts are warning that China could face a rougher 2012 than some might expect. One of those is Roger Nusbaum, chief investment officer at advisory shop Your Source Financial. He describes the country as a “financial house of cards” that could very well produce a bigger housing bubble than that seen in the U.S.

 

RESEARCH/CIVIL SOCIETY

China’s massive coal habit, mapped (Ariel Schwartz, Fast Company, 12/29/2011) In 1982, Asia’s coal consumption was on par with the U.S. Fast-forward 20 years, though, and demand has grown over 400%. This growth in Asia’s coal use isn’t spread equally among all the countries. North Korea, South Korea, and Southeast Asia consume very little; even India doesn’t consume nearly as much as China. This shouldn’t be surprising. China’s economy is growing so fast that it has no choice but to suck up more energy resources. And while the country is a leader in renewable energy installations, it’s also a rapidly growing coal consumer.

How forests relieve thirst (Meng Si, China Dialogue, 12/28/2011) As the UN year of forests draws to a close, Meng Si learns how, in south-west China, ancient woodlands have proved a key protector from drought.

Food security to be concern in 2012 (Zhao Siyu, China Daily, 12/28/2011) The year 2011 began with fearful memories of the 2008 global food crisis. That was a time when surging food prices swept the world, giving rise to riots, trade bans, and panicked hoarding. Millions of people standing on the verge of poverty fell back into the pit. To many, the threat of hunger and malnutrition once again loomed on the horizon.

Following electronic waste from recyclers to dumps in China (Terrence Henry, State Impact NPR, 12/28/2011) As shiny new electronics are being plugged in all across the country this week, many old items are being thrown out. A lot of consumers choose to recycle their old televisions, computers and other gadgets at electronic waste recycling centers, in an effort to prevent all of those plastics and chips from clogging up landfills and leaking waste into the ground.

Study: Weather helped Beijing Olympics’ air quality (UPI, 12/28/2011) China’s impressive feat of cutting Beijing’s pollution up to 50 percent for the 2008 Summer Olympics had some help from Mother Nature, U.S. researchers say.

Some Chinese turn to US Embassy for clarity in smog data (Calum Mcleod, USA Today, 12/26/2011) The Beijing smog often keeps Zhushen Zhenyu trapped at home, on his mother’s orders, when he’d rather be playing basketball outside, but the 8-year-old still hopes for a silver lining in the clouds of pollution choking China’s capital.

Saving forests with fire (Zhang Kejia, China Dialogue, 12/23/2011) The guardians of China’s woodlands do everything possible to prevent fires breaking out – but flames can actually help life flourish. Zhang Kejia reports from the redwood canopies of Oregon.

Video: 30,000 Chinese ‘Occupy’ Highway to protest polluting coal plants (Stephen Lacey, ThinkProgress, 12/21/2011) Tens of thousands of residents in China’s southern Guandong Province gathered in the streets yesterday, occupying a highway to demonstrate against the development of a new coal plant near Shantou city. The residents say existing coal plants in the area are fouling local air and water, and are making people sick.

 

CORPORATIONS

Wind-tower makers from China, Vietnam draw rivals’ U.S. petition (Eric Martin, BusinessWeek, 12/29/2011) Wind-tower producers from China and Vietnam are selling their renewable-energy equipment below cost in the U.S., according to an attorney for American producers that petitioned the U.S. to impose anti-dumping duties.

CNOOC in $80 million marine foundation (Eoin O’Cinneide, Upstream Online, 12/29/2011) Parent company CNOOC has submitted a registration application with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs for the establishment of the CNOOC Marine Environmental * Ecological Protection Public Welfare Foundation, a statement read on Thursday.

Ethnic conflict flares over Chinese nickel mine pollution (Bikya Masr, 12/28/2011) Mindere, Papua New Guinea (dpa) – The refinery next door is set to produce huge quantities of nickel and cobalt, and generate jobs. But the villagers of Mindere in Papua New Guinea want to shut it down for fear of devastating environmental damage caused by the toxic slurry the miners leave behind.

China: Future center for Israeli renewable, water tech? (Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, 12/23/2011)
China may be the ideal hub for transforming Israeli ideas in the renewable energy and water sectors into globally marketable, environmentally sustainable technologies.

The Chinese town that turns your Christmas lights into slippers (The Atlantic, 12/21/2011) A single strand of burnt-out Christmas lights weighs almost nothing in the hand. But a bale of burnt-out Christmas tree lights the size of a love seat? That weighs around 2200 pounds, according to Raymond Li, the general manager of Yong Chang Processing, a scrap metal processor in the southern Chinese town of Shijiao.

 

GOVERNMENT

China leapfrogs US in race for Afghan energy (Daniel Bardsley, The National, 12/29/2011) If evidence were needed that the spoils of war are not always handed to the winner, Afghanistan has provided it this week. The US may have spent nearly US$120 billion (Dh440.79bn) last year alone on operations in the country, and lost more than 1,700 military personnel since the conflict there began in 2001. But that is of little help when it comes to securing oil contracts.

China finds promise and setbacks in pursuit of Russian energy (Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, 12/29/2011) At exactly 48 minutes past midnight on Jan. 1, Russia did something it had never done before: It began pumping oil to China across a 2,600-mile border that once bristled with tanks, troops and nerve-shredding tension.

Air quality of major Chinese cities (People’s Daily, 12/29/2011) Report on the quality of air in 47 major Chinese cities (12:00 Dec. 28 to 12:00 Dec. 29, Beijing Time), released by the China Environmental Monitoring Center.

China conducts second radiation monitor in Pacific Ocean (People’s Daily, 12/29/2011) A marine monitoring team dispatched by China’s State Oceanic Administration accomplished the mission of monitoring radiation in the western Pacific Ocean for the second time, and returned to Xiamen on Dec. 27 aboard the Xiangyanghong 09 scientific exploration ship.

China moves ahead with plan for dam (New York Times, 12/29/2011) The Chinese State Council has removed a crucial roadblock to building one of the nation’s most contentious hydroelectric dams, dealing a decisive defeat to the project’s environmental critics — and showcasing the clout of one of the most powerful and ambitious politicians in China.

China: Stricter air pollution monitoring standards to start next year, with results made public in 2016 (New York Times, 12/22/2011) China will introduce stricter air pollution standards next year to monitor tiny particles of pollution in Beijing and other cities, but it may not start releasing the results to the public until 2016, state news media reported Thursday.

China seeks $536 billion of investments to protect environment (Bloomberg, 12/21/2011) China needs about 3.4 trillion yuan ($536 billion) of investments for environmental protection in the five years through 2015, the State Council said in a blueprint on pollution reduction.

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