In a perfect world, we would have free press that report objective and fair news. We are also told that western developed countries are responsible in their dealing with global issues, especially one as important as climate change. However, if you think there is no invisible hand behind what is selected to be reported by press, privately or government held, think again. Contrast the following headlines and one can clearly tell how politics affect what is being reported and omitted: Read more…
Slideshow below are random shots I took while at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park today. I admire the efforts at this facility in educating the public about endangered animals as well as their active role in helping to stop some species from becoming extinct.
On the topic of poaching, I think there is something to be said about the rich countries versus the poor.
I recently had to write an essay about energy trends affecting China, so I thought I’d share here as well, with a few details modified:
While China has actively expanded its use of renewable energy and fostered innovation in the clean-tech space, planning on the renewables development and deployment front has been suboptimal in the face of present realities. To advance China’s twin goals of modernization and security in the energy space, China should place greater emphasis on renewable capacity utilization rather than capacity expansion in the next five years. China should also find ways to increase the proportion of non-maritime energy imports in its overall import portfolio. Read more…
Following is a report on Chinese farmer, Tang Zhengping, who comes up with a novel way to harness wind energy to give cars extra horse power. That in turn reduces fuel consumption. It’s a great story in so many ways. For one, I wish more Chinese farmers are untied to their land so they have time and resource to pursue their dreams. China does not lack ideas, but rather markets big enough for ideas to come to fruition. And it takes stable and sustainable development to get there. I certainly won’t mind a ride in the back of his car.
I have now been living in China for almost 4 month and I’d like to write a little about my impressions so far from personal experience and in talking to the people. As you all know by now, my views on things like the rule of law, human rights and democracy may be quite different from some of yours (see the posts and comments here, here, here, here, here and here for example).
China has repeatedly been billed as the largest energy consumer and portrayed as possible future aggressor in the quest for more energy, mineral, and even water resources. Most western press also mentioned that China is a resource poor country that consumed a prodigious amount of minerals. However, the first point is factually wrong. Read more…
The following presentation is by a BYD executive in America talking about the company’s directions. I find his slides showing the ongoing trials in various cities in China make the company and it’s technologies much more concrete and real. China is also investing heavily to enable the charging infrastructure necessary for wide adoption of electric vehicles, not to mention the $18,000 (yes, that’s in USD) incentive for buyers.
CNN is basically trash, though today I was forwarded a link to their look at a toy factory in Shengzhen trying to be more green. Of course, the typical Western view of the Chinese factory is like that of 19th century America or U.K.. There are horrendous working conditions, I am sure, in other sectors such as rare earth and coal mining. The Chinese government absolutely needs to try to help upgrade working conditions in those sectors – perhaps by taxing consumption and exports. While the picture in China is mixed, the view in the West is completely distorted – or at times through outright lies – (see recent Mike Daisy article by Charles Liu and Allen). Read more…
Some daffodils I planted few months ago are in full bloom now. Not really raining today, but spraying water on the flower gives it more interest. I’ve been struck how beautiful these flowers are.
WTO’s Recent Ruling Against China over Export Controls of Certain Raw Materials: A Critical Juncture for the WTO and a Chance for Chinese Leadership?
Last week, the WTO handed China a setback in its ruling over its appeal over export controls (herein the Ruling) covering “[c]rtain forms of bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorous, and zinc.”
The Global Times has a strong response:
Time to reassess unfair WTO entry terms
Global Times | February 01, 2012 00:48
A WTO appeals panel has upheld a ruling against China restricting exports of nine types of raw materials. The ruling, completely unreasonable to Chinese, will threaten China’s resource preservation and environmental protection efforts.
China has generally been following WTO regulations and rulings. But it should find the best balance between applying WTO rules and protecting its national interests. Getting approval from the West is not our top concern.
Admittedly, joining the WTO has boosted China’s rise. However, entry was granted at the cost of China accepting some unfair terms, from which the aftereffects have gradually emerged, including this ruling. They may become a hidden problem for China’s economy. Read more…
(On January 5, 2012, I sat down with Shaun Rein, founder and Managing Director of the China Market Research Group, to talk about China. He gave us his insights into major events of 2011. In this hour-long interview, we touched on many topics: pollution, CNN and Christian Bale’s recent run-in with Chinese police, food safety, Weibo, and so on.)
YinYang:2011 was another eventful year for China. Just when her bullet train seems unstoppable, a fatal collision left the whole country in doubt. China achieved space docking, something only the U.S. and Russia have managed. Then there was Tiger Mom.
I have invited a real China expert to weigh in on these events and other events that mattered to China. What were the Chinese narratives? How did the Chinese feel about them? I couldn’t have found a better person to do this with. Read more…
Below are couple of shots taken at Lake Tahoe where I vacationed this past week. Generally, I was impressed with how environmentally conscience American society has become, and the pristine waters and clean beaches at the lake reminded me of that. Recycling is in full force. I recall back in the 80’s, recycling was still not a daily vocabulary. It is today. Read more…
Despite wrestling with tremendous environmental problems associated with developing its economy, China has nevertheless been recognized as one of the top clean technology producers by World Wildlife Fund. This is not a small accomplishment on China’s part and is a testament of the continuous effort and progress China is making in this important arena.
According to this Washington Post report, Denmark tops list of clean technology producers; China is No. 2; US at 17 is rapidly expanding.
Here is a copy of the Washington Post report: Read more…
Video below is of Kauai taken by Devin Graham, the same island where my family vacationed at last year. My prior post has many pictures taken from some of the same spots as in this video. China too is endowed with many incredibly beautiful landscapes.
China Daily has just reported the Longyan Municipal Intermediate People’s Court upholding a prior Xinluo District Court ruling fining Zijin Mining for $4.6 million in damages and sentencing the company’s former vice president, Chen Jiahong, the company’s environmental protection officer, Huang Fucai, and three other company managers to three-year sentences. Zijin Mining was found guilty of leaking acid into the Tingjiang River in Fujian Province killing fish and contaminating water.
I followed this news last year with interest, because Fujian Province is where I originally grew up. (More background on this spill can be found on Caixing’s article, “A River Runs Red in Fujian.”)
Climate change is real, and as Laura Tam, the lead author of the just published San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) Report, “Climate change hits home” (PDF), says, it is too late to prevent it entirely, but local communities can still do their part. Her report recommends 30 strategies to mitigate.
“Although we must do everything in our power to slow down climate change, it is too late to prevent it entirely. All levels of government, and especially local governments, must begin preparing for and building resilience to the effects of climate change, an area of planning known as climate change adaptation.
China has announced spending 4 trillion yuan ($601 billion) over the next decade in water projects, mainly to tackle over-exploitation, usage efficiency, and pollution. The country plans to cap water consumption at 670 billion cubic meters, and according to this other recent report, China is now short about 40 billion cubic meters annually.
China’s Ministry of Water Resources also reported severe droughts this year, especially in Shandong, Hebei, Henan, Anhui, Shanxi and Jiangsu provinces. It said that in Hebei Province alone, 370,000 residents are having difficulty getting drinking water due to abnormal rainfall (80% less than normal).
Chinese scientists made breakthrough at the No.404 Factory of China National Nuclear Corp in the Gobi desert in remote Gansu province, enabling the re-use of spent uranium and increasing the efficiency of nuclear fuel by 60 folds. China’s existing supply of uranium throughout China was estimated to last for 70 years. With this technology, China now forecasts the supply lasting 3,000 years.
This breakthrough obviously makes nuclear power a much more practical option, because the waste resulting from use is now dramatically reduced.
As 2010 is coming to a close, I thought about what some important messages we ought to remind ourselves of. Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” was a great feature film which brought the message of preserving our planet Earth around the world. While we can sense a momentum of need to change, we are indeed still far from taking the drastic measures necessary to slow down the type of changes and degradation we are causing. In 2009, Yann Arthus-Bertrand made another feature film, “HOME” (or in Chinese, “家园”) that was simultaneously released around the world. Like before, it warns us of the alarming rate at which we are damaging this planet. This time, no graphs or charts; just real images. It also shows us great many examples where we are doing the right things to buttress the trend. The film tells us how we have come to where we are in relation to our environment. It is done with cinematography showing us how incredibly beautiful our home really is; one that we must renew, cherish, and protect.
(Youtube.com version in 720P if you are outside China)
(You may click on any images on this post for an enlarged view.)
Above is a traveler meditating to sunset at Poipu Beach at the southern coast of Kauai. It is easy to imagine why such landscape or seascape draw all sorts of inspiration; romance, artistry, and, apparently spirituality. By the way, the woman in the picture is really beautiful. A thought to interrupt her to get a portraiture did cross my mind, but I decided otherwise.
United Nations Environment Programme: China #1 in adding renewable energy, more than any other country
The United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) recently reported “Global Trends in Green Energy 2009: New Power Capacity from Renewable Sources Tops Fossil Fuels,” and one of the highlights it gave was:
Growth of wind power in China a key feature of 2009
There are a number of interesting facts about China and the U.S. in the report:
China surpassed the US in 2009 as the country with the greatest investment in clean energy.
New private and public sector investments in core clean energy leapt 53 per cent in China in 2009.
China added 37 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity, more than any other country.
Apparently, after much drama, intrigue, and sleepless nights, we have some sort of agreement at Copenhagen. We’ll probably get the text of the Copenhagen Agreement soon. But I think the gist of it is as follows: Read more…
Below is a short article on China’s state of Clean Development Mechanism(CDM) under Kyoto Protocol, and future of China’s low carbon, green development:
Carbon Trading Prelude To Low Carbon Economy
Environmental China, 8/17/2009
(Carbon trading market is a hopeful prelude to “low carbon economy”. Beijing Environmental Exchange CEO Mei Dewen says China, being the nation with largest carbon resource, has tremendous development potential in carbon trading. Thru Clean Development Mechanism, in 2012 China may receive 1.8 billion tons of carbon trading credit, as much as several hundred million USD.)
China’s carbon-based economy is a must, says Mei Dewen. Establishing exchange, develop products, speedy connection with international channels, Mei believes, developing market and pricing mechanism, attracting qualified financial institution and enterprises, is central to the future of carbon-based economy.
As 2005 Kyoto Protocol framework relates to China, in recent years, global carbon trading and marketplace had exponential growth, From 377 million Euro in 2004 to 91 billion Euro in 2008, with expert projection of 140 billion Euro in 2012, surpassing oil market as largest marketplace.
Carbon trading and derived financial market is on the horizon. According to World Bank’s estimate, half of the 5 billion ton emission reduction target by developed nations will be realized from CDM, and China have the potential for 35% to 40% of the global CDM.
However, financial development area is lacking, Mei Dewen says. Although China has the largest carbon capital, carbon economy and carbon trading are left and rigt legs, without support from carbon economy, China will lose out on carbon trading like pricing mechanism, and lose out on opportunity in development of new financial sector.
Currently, carbon trading is mostly monopolized by developed nations, such as ETS in EU, ETG in UK, and CCX in US. Although China has established environmental exchanges in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjing, these 3 exchanges are limited to conservation and environmental protection technology transfer transactions, and still far from monetizing on carbon trading. China’s carbon marketplace development not only far behind developed nation, it’s even behind India.
In concrete terms, China’s carbon trading is akin to farm commodity market, while India’s carbon trading has elevated to level of currency market. Mei says, India’s carbon marketplace development is more advanced than China, in terms of trading platform or CDM capability. India’s carbon credit is 2-3 Euros more per ton than China.
Recently there have been some discussion on China’s rapid development, industrialization, increased pollution and destruction of environment such as deforestation. Not being knowledgeable or ever being interested in the subject, I decided to look for answer to the question – Is China recklessly polluting the planet? Read more…
President Hu recently met with a delegation of ethnic minorities from Taiwan, and pledged further support from the mainland for whatever help Taiwan may need. Ethnic minorities in southern Taiwan, living often in remote villages, were the hardest hit group in Taiwan by the recent typhoon. Here is a translation of a story on the People’s Web by China News Wrap:
From August 6-9, southern Taiwan was hit with the worst typhoon in 50 years. Per the Associated Press story:
“Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (two meters) of rain on the island last weekend and stranded thousands in villages in the mountainous south. A total of 15,400 villagers have been ferried to safety, and rescuers are working to save another 1,900 people. The storm destroyed the homes of 7,000 people and caused agricultural and property damage in excess of 50 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.5 billion), Ma told the security conference.”
Few years ago I visited Chengdu and drove all the way to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟). I got a chance to see the pristine side of Sichuan province and a number of local performances. I stumbled upon this music video by Tibetan Chinese singer, Kelsang Metok (格桑梅朵), “Falling in Love with Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟).” It gives a great intro to that region and reminded me of many things I saw during that trip.
*** ( NOTE : This is an addition to the 2nd “follow-on” article I wrote recently. I would highly recommend you read that article first before starting this one if you haven’t already. The purpose of this article is to answer a couple of questions raised by some readers. ) *** ( click here to read that follow-on article )
*** ( NOTE : This is the 2nd and last “follow-on” article of the parent artcle titled : “Putting the Sichuan Quake into Perspective“. This 2nd “follow-on” article, like the 1st one, is NOT meant to be a stand-alone article. I would therefore highly recommend you read that article before starting this one. The parent article is only 1 page long, and should provide the context in which this article should be viewed ) *** ( click here to read the 1st article ) Read more…