It’s not much and it’s not nearly enough but there’s a rare glimmer of hope in the report that China’s coal consumption has fallen for the first time this century.
It’s not much, somewhere between 1-2% is all, but it sure beats the 5-10% annual increases that preceded it.
“The significance is that if the coal consumption growth we have seen in China in the last 10 years went on, we would lose any hope of bringing climate change under control,” said Lauri Myllyvirta at Greenpeace East Asia. “The turnaround now gives a window of opportunity.”Such a turnaround (Read more…)
American film director, Oliver Stone, recently gave a lengthy interview to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. He is in the region helping to produce a documentary with the title Ukraine on Fire.
Excerpts from the interview showed up in various online publications but I just recently came across an English version of the whole deal on the website Russian Insider. It’s quite an extensive interview, so I’m posting parts of it that pick on some of the topics I’ve addressed on the blog… the Ukraine crisis, American interventionism, Western imperialism, Putin, misrepresentation of Russia by Western media being a few.
Several years ago a non-governmental organization, the Global Footprint Network, came to my attention. GFN’s purpose was to monitor the state of the biomass around the world on a global, regional and national basis.
GFN published this annual report marking what they called “World Overshoot Day.” This was the date each year by which mankind was calculated to have consumed an entire year’s worth of renewable resources.
As the GFN graphic shows, mankind is now consuming renewable resources at roughly 1.5 times the natural replenishment rate. Some like to say that we’re using one and a (Read more…)
It's an amazing sight, thousands of young pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, defying the old guard in Beijing. Daring to lecture them on the limits of power, in their own backyard.In the shadow of Tiananmen.The young members of the Umbrella Revolution, lighting up the darkness with their cell phones…Read more »
North Americans don’t seem to care much about democracy. Canadians don’t, and our good neighbours the Americans don’t. We enjoy considerable freedoms along with our electoral systems of government, but our systems are hardly democratic, and it doesn’t seem to bother us. If it did, we would never tolerate them.
Observation of the American system suggests a plutocracy, not a democracy. A recent
Just what does all this squabbling about greenhouse gas emissions really mean? What has to go into an effective climate change agreement? What factors are in play?
Here, courtesy of Vox.com, are a few charts that reveal a climate deal is both urgently needed and extremely difficult to craft.
First up, where we stand today. Annex B countries are the wealthy nations that participated in the Kyoto Accords. Non-Annex B countries, the poor nations and the emerging economic superpowers, now account for the lion’s share of global emissions.
Next is an illustration of per capita emissions. While we’re (Read more…)
This and that for your weekend reading.
- James Meek observes that decades of privatization in the UK have eliminated public control over housing and other essential services – and that privatization takes far more forms than we’re accustomed to taking into consideration. And Rick Salutin offers his take on the latter point: Economist Mariana Mazzucato’s new book, The Entrepreneurial State, takes a bold step in “debunking” this fake construct. (Steve Paikin interviewed her on TVO this week.) She doesn’t just argue that public spending (on defence) was crucial in basic advances like computers and the Internet. That’s (Read more…)
Water-stressed Israel realized this year ago when it recognized that its exports of Jaffa oranges were really exporting “virtual water.” It took scarce water to grow the orange and when it left the country for overseas markets it was full of water.
Fast forward to 2014 and drought-stricken California. The BBC reports that California farmers are using billions of gallons of incredibly scarce water to grow alfalfa hay destined for China.
The southern Imperial Valley, which borders Mexico, draws its water from the Colorado River along the blue liquid lifeline of the All American Canal.It brings the desert (Read more…)
The sanctions being plastered on Russia by the US and her allies are already having a rebound effect, especially in Europe. Russia is not only the major supplier of the natural gas the Europeans will need to get through this winter, it’s also a key market for their exports. In these matters the EU and US are in different boats. Another key difference is that American sanctions are more heavily weighted on depriving Russia of access to credit – loans.
Here’s the rub. International finance is generally conducted in US dollars, the global reserve currency. Throughout the post-WWII era that’s (Read more…)
India is the worst but it’s not alone. All of the emerging economic superpowers share the same problem – the abuse of antibiotics.
For India, it’s the result of a population coming into new wealth that still has just one doctor for every 1,700 people. You get sick, you get pills, off you go. Too often those pills are antibiotic.
Together with India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa account for 76% of the global increase in antibiotic use.
If the warnings we get from our medical establishment are accurate, these countries and their societies could be heading for real (Read more…)
There are ten methods for meditating on the world, begins one scroll in the 1,300-year-old collection of Tang-dynasty sutras from Xian, China, that can lead us to happiness and fulfillment. I realize that sounds like the opening of a New Age piffle book, but the sutras were actually discovered in a cave near a Buddhist […]
To Asia’s three nuclear powers, the Tibetan plateau represents life or death. China, India and Pakistan are all dependent on the headwaters of rivers that are fed by the glaciers in Tibet. The geo-political enormity of these rivers drove China to invade and occupy Tibet in 1950.
What happens in the Himalayas powerfully impacts the security of these three Asian powers. That’s why a new study on the state of the plateau is particularly worrisome.
The report from the Chinese Academy of Sciences concludes that the Tibetan plateau has experienced double the average level of global warming and that the (Read more…)
Few who lived through the Cold War with its constant threat of nuclear annihilation realize the role confidence played in preventing an outbreak of apocalyptic hostilities. Even at times when we thought the “other side” might be nearing the point of pre-emptive attack, we had a sufficient degree of confidence that they would do no such thing. The Red Telephone that connected the White House to the Kremlin was specifically intended as an instrument for maintaining confidence.
The Cuban missile crisis demonstrated the leadership needed to maintain confidence – and peace – in stressful circumstances. Kennedy was being pulled by (Read more…)
Yeah, I know, it sounds wacky but it’s true. China wants to nationalize as in “Sinicize” the Christian religion as it’s practiced in the Peoples Republic.
“The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture,” Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said at a Shanghai forum on the “Sinicization of Christianity,” according to Chinese state media. …the officials’ comments last week indicate that the Chinese Communist Party intends to further tighten its grip over Christianity. There are a number of possible targets and motivations for the crackdown. (Read more…)
China’s rate of economic development has caused massive change in the country and that includes the impact on waste management. Waste from consumer goods, industry, and other “good” things for the economy causes huge problems around the world. China is now at a turning point that can see interesting solutions to problems the developed world has had an easier time dealing with.
The sheer amount of pollution in China is causing people in the city to protest government policies. Environmental consciousness is growing in China.
Chinese waste management stands at a watershed moment. Rising environmental consciousness among the educated, urban (Read more…)
Decisions made can impact centuries, as China found out when its leaders made a shortsighted decision in the early 1400’s:
In Nanjing today you can see a full-size replica of the treasure ship of Admiral Zhen He, the most famous sailor in Chinese history. It is 400 feet long – nearly five times the size of the Santa Maria, in which Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492. And this was only part of the fleet of more than 300 huge ocean-going junks…. With combined crew of 28,000, Zheng He’s navy was bigger than anything seen in the West (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: From My Quotes Cupboard: China’s leaders could have ruled the waves, but blew it
25 years ago in Tiananmen Square there was a protest against the Chinese government. The protest was dealt with lethal force by the government – killing many people. Since then, the Chinese government has blocked any discussion about the protest and has greatly censored information on it. Obviously all of this isn’t good news.
To curtail the efforts of propaganda artists and censors in China there are groups that are trying to ensure that we don’t forget about the protest. This is good because if we forget our collective history we deny ourselves a richer, more knowledgable, existence. If we (Read more…)
Early China coal mine
When it comes to global warming, coal is the biggest culprit in the warming of the earth.
China is taking giant strides to reduce its need for coal to generate energy by exploiting its vast shale gas reserves: Although serious obstacles remain, China is finally making progress on tapping its vast shale gas reserves, which hold the promise of a new source of clean energy for the coal smoke-choked country.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China holds the world’s largest reserves of technically recoverable shale gas in the world, 1,115 trillion cubic feet. (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Good news: China’s Fracking to reduce its use of Coal
I was at a restaurant with friends a few weeks ago. The conversation was kind of slow, so I mentioned my plans for travelling to Hong Kong next year and asked for advice on which attractions to visit.
One of the members of the group took this as an opportunity to talk about all the annoying “Mainlanders” – a term referring to people from Mainland China – I should be wary of during my visit.
“Mainlanders go to Hong Kong to show off their money. They’ll go into an LV boutique and say to the sales assistants, ‘I’ll take all the bags in the store except these (Read more…)
I got up this morning to a fog rolling into the city. It’s not from rain, or from temperature change or any other natural reason for a hazy day. It’s because I live in Beijing, and the pollution levels are on the rise today. Jumping a few dozen points between 8:00 and 9:00am. The AQI is 249 at the time of writing this.
I made tea, and watched the latest episode of VICE, which only further disgruntled me with its expose on the scrapers working legally and illegally in America’s industrial towns, taking apart once booming factories to sell the (Read more…)
Bad puns aside, the recent intrigue in Crimea has been responsible for more nonsensical political blustering than any single international incident in the past decade. It has been a curious exercise to sit back and watch everyone work themselves up and deliver half-baked analyses based on laughably outdated assumptions. Please note that all of my assumptions are fully baked.
Lest I sound arrogant, I’m not going to excoriate everyone who has commented on the new ‘Cold War’, nor should I. But I am going to address those people who are attempting to understand this as a Russia vs. the West (Read more…)
Now a growing player in the global market and a curious destination to many, China’s capitalist whitewash has been holding our attention. But how has China’s economic growth affected the working class? Mr. Lee* shares his experiences growing up in China, its newfound wealth and the dichotomy of morals and money.
It’s a quarter past two in the afternoon when I text Mr. Lee who is uncharacteristically late for our meeting. He’s coming to my Beijing apartment, as he felt it safer than a public space; someone could be listening. He’s confused by the elevator, and wants me to (Read more…)
We’ve been getting this manicured image of Russia, isolated, standing alone against the world over its occupation of eastern Ukraine and, especially, Crimea. Then again, we do tend to see ourselves, the West, as the world.
Vlad Putin sees the world differently. He sees China and he’s looking for China’s support over the Ukraine business to offset Western opprobrium. The situation in Ukraine was discussed Monday at consultations in Moscow between Chinese deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping and his Russian counterpart, Grigory Karasin.“The Chinese side expressed understanding of Russia’s analysis of reasons behind the deep political crisis in (Read more…)
The Ukraine sits right on Russia’s doorstep. It is the land route to Russia’s Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol by which the Russian navy can access the Mediterranean. Severing Russia’s naval access to the Med is thought to be why the U.S. has been meddling in Ukrainian affairs, funding the pro-western group that topped the country’s pro-Russian president, leaving the country bloodied, badly divided and at risk of separation or worse.
Quite predictably we’re awfully quick to turn all sanctimonious in our admonitions to Putin in Moscow. How would we react if the shoe (Read more…)
Smog in China has become so severe that it’s interfering with photosynthesis.
Chinese scientists report that China’s smog-clogged atmosphere has taken on aspects of “nuclear winter” and could wreak havoc on the country’s already stressed food supply.
Beijing and broad swaths of six northern provinces have spent the past week blanketed in a dense pea-soup smog that is not expected to abate until Thursday. Beijing’s concentration of PM 2.5 particles – those small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream – hit 505 micrograms per cubic metre on Tuesday night. The World Health Organisation recommends (Read more…)