Archive for the ‘pollution’ Category

China’s Water Crisis

February 6, 2009

China has a growing crisis of getting clean water where it is needed most, compounded by drought and a huge groundwater and coastal water pollution tragedy.

China is currently in its worst drought in more than half a century and the government has declared a “Red Alert.”

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters made the “Red Alert” determination, Xinhua said, because millions of acres of farmland for grain is all dried out, 4.3 million people face a water distress and 2.1 million head of livestock are short of water.

At the international level, there is already concern about global wheat prices and food availability.

Ma Wenfeng of Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultants said, “The government has sufficient wheat reserves to stabilise the wheat market.  China is unlikely to boost wheat imports much and therefore the direct impact on the international prices will be minimal.”

China has had a looming water crisis for more than a decade.  Just to pull off the Olympics in Beijing this last summer, China had to build a complex series of water ways and aquaducts to feed the thirsty city.  These projects contributed to the loss of farmland around Beijing which turned into desert near Beijing.  The dry areas that were formerly farmlands made for an increase in blowing dust and sand in Beijing.

For more than a decade China has also been reporting increased chemical pollution of its ground water.  As much as 80% of China’s ground water and wells now have high amounts of chemicals from fertilizers,  insecticides and industrial plant run-off.  

China’s poor sewage management has poisoned vast areas of coastal waters.  The “green slime” in the Yellow Sea just prior to the Summer Olympics almost ended sail racing events.  The slime comes when pollution causes th algae to “bloom.”

China’s drought is severe — threatening farms, crops and livlihoods.

But China’s bigger picture of poor water management, control, conservation and sewage management may be creating a long-term nightmare.

China already has a limit of 1 child per family as the population grows past 1.3 billion. 

GETTY IMAGES The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China. Its water is the source of plans to solve Beijing's thirst for more water.

Above: The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China.  Photo: Getty Images

Related:
CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/06/china.drought.half.century/i
ndex.html

China Drought “Red Alert”

More than 80 pct of China’s coastal waters polluted

Thirsty Beijing awash in water woes

China: Human Activity May Have Increased Earthquake Severity

AFP:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/200902
06/sc_afp/chinadroughtweather_2009
0206081620

China blames pollution for surge in birth defects

February 2, 2009
The government’s acknowledgment of the problem is a victory for environmentalists, who say the rate of defects is highest in coal-producing regions.
By Barbara Demick
The Los Angeles Times
February 2, 2009
Reporting from Beijing — Chinese officials told the state media that birth defects are increasing at an alarming rate and that a major reason was degradation of the environment.

“The number of newborns with birth defects is constantly increasing in both urban and rural areas,” Jiang Fan, vice minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, was quoted by the China Daily’s weekend edition as saying in a recent conference.

Environmentalists say that the leading culprit is China’s dependence on coal and that birth defects are highest in coal-producing regions such as Shanxi and Inner Mongolia.

Although Jiang did not give out new figures at last month’s conference, a study by the commission released in 2007 found that birth defects had increased nearly 40% from 2001 to 2006, coinciding with the country’s explosive economic growth.

The government’s acknowledgment was a victory for environmentalists, some of whom have faced arrest and harassment for trying to publicize the relationship between pollution and disease.

“So many people are wondering why, when our lives are supposed to be getting better, there are more and more babies born with birth defects and couples who are infertile,” said Huo Daishan, an environmental activist from Henan province who has been fighting against printing, paper manufacturing and chemical dye factories whose pollution he believes has caused disease clusters along the Huai River.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
world/la-fg-china-birth-defects2-2009feb0
2,0,3417123.story

Indian Stream Awash in Drugs

January 25, 2009

When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000.
.
Pharmaceutical contamination is an emerging concern worldwide. In its series of articles, AP documented the commonplace presence of minute concentrations of pharmaceuticals in U.S. drinking water supplies. The AP also found that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals were almost ubiquitous in rivers, lakes and streams.

Associated Preaa

Last year, The Associated Press reported that trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals had been found in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans. But the wastewater downstream from the Indian plants contained 150 times the highest levels detected in the U.S.

Read the entire article:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090125
/ap_on_re_as/pharmawater_india

Related:
More than 80 pct of China’s coastal waters polluted

More than 80 pct of China’s coastal waters polluted

January 17, 2009

Raw sewage and pollution from agricultural run-off polluted 83 percent of China’s coastal waters in 2008, according to state media.

China’s coastal waters last year witnessed 68 red tides, or algae blooms, which feed off nutrients found in excess pollution and sap water of oxygen, killing off large amounts of sea life, Xinhua news agency said.

The State Oceanic Administration was cited as saying the algae blooms covered 13,700 square kilometres (5,500 square miles), an increase of more than 2,100 square kilometres over 2007, the report said.

While some experts said the red tides were a result of climate change and heavy rain, environmentalists believe they were largely due to sewage and agricultural pollutant run-off, it said.

In August last year, one algae bloom caused havoc for the sailing competition of the Olympic Games when it engulfed waters surrounding the sailing venue in eastern China’s Qingdao city.

Up to 10,000 soldiers and volunteers were enlisted to clean up more than one million tonnes of the foul-smelling algae as they raced to clear the waters ahead of the competition, Xinhua said.

–AFP

Chinese fishermen in their boats pitch in to help clean up the ... 
Chinese fishermen in their boats pitch in to help clean up the coast of Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province, in July 2008, shortly before the Olympic Games. Raw sewage and pollution from agricultural run-off polluted 83 percent of China’s coastal waters in 2008, according to state media.(AFP/File)

Thirsty Beijing awash in water woes

December 22, 2008

This capital’s growing thirst for clean water is clashing with provincial demands and concerns that plans to tap China‘s rivers will hurt an already troubled environment.

As a result, China has delayed by four years a project to transfer water more than 600 miles from a tributary of the Yangtze River to Beijing and Tianjin, pushing the completion date to 2014.

First proposed by Mao Zedong in the 1950s, the south-to-north water diversion is designed to maintain explosive industrialization in – and migration to – the country´s northern cities.

Critics of the $62 billion project have long argued that it is riddled with environmental flaws. Some of the strongest calls for a delay come from officials in central Hubei province, home to the Danjiangkou Dam, where the water would originate.

By Chris Obrein
The Washington Times

GETTY IMAGES The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China. Its water is the source of plans to solve Beijing's thirst for more water.

Above: The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China.  Photo: Getty Images

Wang Fenyu, a project official, told the Changjiang (Yangtze) Times recently that completion of what is known as the “central route” had been pushed back from 2010 until 2014 “to prevent ecological and environment risks.”

To ensure Beijing´s thirst is not quenched with dirty water, “Hubei must build even more water-treatment plants and ecological restoration facilities,” Mr. Wang said. The project originally was slated to be finished by last summer’s Olympics.

The central route, one of three planned large water projects, is designed to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water each year from the Han River, a major tributary of the Yangtze, to supply Beijing and Tianjin.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/dec/22/thirsty-beijing-awash-in-woes-linked-to-huge-need-/

Cha-Ching: China Will Do More For Global Warming if U.S. Pay$ More

December 12, 2008

China‘s top negotiator at the UN climate talks welcomed the climate pact adopted by EU leaders on Friday as a “positive step,” but criticised carbon reduction goals set by US president-elect Barack Obama as too weak.

In an interview with AFP, Su Wei said the deal struck at the European Union‘s summit in Brussels as “a positive step.”

by Marlowe Hood
AFP

Passers-by look at the picture of the earth at the "Technologies ... 
Passers-by look at the picture of the earth at the “Technologies for Climate Protection” exibition during the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, on December 7, 2008. China’s top negotiator at the UN climate talks welcomed the climate pact adopted by EU leaders on Friday as a “positive step,” but criticised carbon reduction goals set by US president-elect Barack Obama as too weak.(AFP/File/Wojtek Radwanski)

“We welcome that,” Su said. “It is important that European Union continue to take the lead in the international cooperation to address climate change.”

He added, though: “Maybe some of the positions have been watered down compared to 2007.

“Of course, we understand in the face of the international financial crisis, countries put more efforts to address that crisis. But we think measures to address climate change should not in any way be delayed or watered down.”

Su — whose fast-industrialising nation has overtaken the United States as the world’s leading emitter of CO2 — qualified this.

“I also heard the very firm political commitments from the ministers of the EU and from the European environment commissioner” Stavros Dimas, he said.

The European Union‘s so-called 20-20-20 package seeks to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, make 20-percent energy savings and bring renewable energy sources up to 20 percent of total energy use.

The Chinese negotiator said Obama’s plan to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 was well short of the mark.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081212/wl_asia_afp
/unclimatewarmingchina_081212212744

U.N.: Mexico Will Cut Emissions 10% By 2050 If U.S., Japan Pay

December 12, 2008

If you are an American you heard this right: Mexico will go to work on cleaning up its factories that produce tons of pollution if you pay.  But this won’t happen soon…

To improve the quality of the environment, China, Russia and everyone else have offered to limit the industries of the U.S., Japan and Canada — and give them the bill to pay “emerging economies” to have cleaner industries….

******

Developing countries upbraided rich nations at U.N. climate talks Thursday, saying they were refusing to act boldly enough to stop global warming. Mexico sought to prod others into action by becoming the first developing country to announce a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

As 145 environment ministers and other leaders gathered for the final phase of the two-week talks, delegates from poor countries made emotional pleas to rich countries to take the lead in cutting the heat-trapping gases that their factories have pumped into the air since the Industrial Revolution.

By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, right, receives an Honorary ... 
Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, right, receives an Honorary Doctorate from Professor Bronislaw Marciniak, left, at the Poznan University, Poland, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. Gore is in Poland to participate in the UN climate change conference in Poznan where more than 10, 000 delegates from 186 governments, businesses and environmental groups meet to agree on a new climate treaty in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Countries like the United States, Canada and Japan have resisted deep emissions cuts without similar sacrifice from the developing world. They argue that unilateral action on their part would harm their economies, and would not solve the crisis if industrializing countries like China and India keep spewing out ever more carbon dioxide.

The attitude of the rich countries “borders on the immoral and is counterproductive,” said John Ashe, Antigua’s ambassador to the U.N., speaking on behalf of 130 developing countries plus China.

Mexico DF City.jpg

Above: Mexico City sparkles on a rare clear evening conceded that “our negotiations are by far not progressing fast enough. We are not making any progress on crucial issues.”

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel

“If industrialized countries carry on playing games with words in an attempt to shirk their responsibilities, we will become a laughing stock,” Gabriel said.

To spur global collective action, Mexico’s environment secretary, Juan Rafael Elvira, announced his country’s plan to cut 2002 greenhouse gas emission levels by 50 percent by 2050. Still, he said Mexico’s goal of using solar power, wind and other clean technologies could only be reached with financial and technological help from wealthier nations.

The Mexican plan includes establishing a cap-and-trade system that would set emissions limits on certain sectors, such as cement, electricity and oil refining, which account for the vast majority of its emissions. Companies that reduce their emissions below those limits could sell their unused allowances on the international carbon market.

The move makes Mexico the only developing country to set a voluntary national target below current levels, said Antonio Hill, senior policy adviser for Oxfam. South Korea has said it would announce an emissions cap next year, and South Africa has a detailed plan to peak emissions in 2025.

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)

“It’s a very significant step because a major emerging economy is saying that it will put a limit on its emissions for key sectors which account for the majority of its emissions,” said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Officials at the talks in Poland are working on a new worldwide treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is supposed to be concluded next December in Copenhagen, Denmark, and would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Environmentalists have also sharply criticized the rich countries, saying they have done too little to battle global warming. But many developing countries, including Brazil, China, South Africa, and now Mexico, have won praise for taking strong steps in fighting climate change.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081211/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_poland_climate_talks_7

China, Pollution and how U.S. Government Fat Cats Live

December 6, 2008

China surely has much to learn from the United States when it comes to reducing air pollution, and who better than Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen L. Johnson to return to the Middle Kingdom for a week-long trip — his second visit there in a year — to help them out.

Johnson is part of a group of Cabinet officials traveling to Beijing for an economic exchange trip at the end of the week. But, hey, that’s a long way to go just for a two-day meeting. So he’s already arrived in Shanghai, got there Sunday, for an important roundtable discussion with American and Chinese businessmen “on the importance of sound environmental regulation and consistent enforcement.” Then he’s off to talk to students at Tongji University, a highly regarded institution known for its science and engineering faculties. Maybe not the caliber of nearby Fudan University, but quite good.

From there he’s off to Xian, in central China, for critical meetings with officials from the Northwest Regional Supervision Center and the provincial Environmental Protection Bureau. There, according to an EPA news release, “Johnson will learn more about the evolving relationship between the RSCs and the provincial EPBs.” As everyone knows, it is essential for the lame duck Johnson, who has seven weeks left as EPA chief, to learn about that important relationship before he heads off to the private sector.

We’ve advised him that if, by some chance, he can break away, there are of course the famed terra-cotta soldiers of the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.) and an equally impressive dig recently opened just by the airport in Xian. The famed dumplings at that restaurant just outside the city wall are also not to be missed.

The terra-cotta warriors of Xian are among the attractions that EPA chief Stephen Johnson might want to check out while he's in China talking about clean air and such.

The terra-cotta warriors of Xian are among the attractions that EPA chief Stephen Johnson might want to check out while he’s in China talking about clean air and such. (China Photos Via Getty Images)

After that, Johnson speeds off to join other Cabinet officials in Beijing on Thursday for a two-day meeting with Chinese counterparts before rushing home over the weekend to impart all those important lessons to other EPA officials.

–The Washington Post

 

Beijing traffic. Car sales in China fell more than 10 percent ...
Coal, Industry and cars make a devil’s brew of air pollution in China.  This is Beijing traffic. 
AFP/File/Peter Parks