Archive for Environment

China Experiences a Fracking Boom- and All the Problems That Go With It – The New York Times

“GAOSHAN, China — The first earthquake struck this small farming village in Sichuan Province before dawn on Feb. 24. There were two more the next day.

Sichuan is naturally prone to earthquakes, including a major one in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people, but to the rattled villagers of Gaoshan, the cause of these tremors was human-made.

“The drilling,” Yu Zhenghua said as she tearfully surveyed her damaged home, still officially uninhabitable five days later.

The drilling Ms. Yu referred to was hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technology, which has revolutionized the production of natural gas and oil in the United States, has created a boom in China, too, and with it many of the controversies that have dogged the practice elsewhere.

In the hours after the quakes, thousands of residents converged outside the main government building in Rong County to protest widespread fracking in the rolling hills and valleys here now yellowing with the flowering of rapeseed.

A shale gas drilling station in Rong County. In the last decade, the China National Petroleum Corporation alone has invested $4 billion in fracking shale gas in the Sichuan Basin.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
 Image
A shale gas drilling station in Rong County. In the last decade, the China National Petroleum Corporation alone has invested $4 billion in fracking shale gas in the Sichuan Basin.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times

The protesters jostled with security guards along a sliding metal gate and dispersed only after officials announced they had suspended fracking operations of a regional subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil and gas producer.”

Source: China Experiences a Fracking Boom, and All the Problems That Go With It – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China, Climate Change, Environment

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Opinion | China Isn’t Having Enough Babies – The New York Times

By Wang Feng and Yong Cai

Mr. Wang and Mr. Cai are sociologists.

Image.  CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

“Fewer babies were born in China last year than in 2017, and already fewer had been born in 2017 than in 2016. There were 15.23 million new births in 2018, down by more than 11 percent from the year before. The authorities had predicted that easing and then abolishing the one-child policy in the mid-2010s would trigger a baby boom; it’s been more like a baby bust.

No, these figures don’t mean that China’s population itself has started to decline. But they do mean that the population overall is aging, and fast. And they mean that the Chinese government can no longer manipulate fertility with blunt pro-natal policies; the reasons for the drop run too deep. Instead of futile, retrograde statist intervention in people’s reproductive choices, the authorities should undertake broad economic and social reforms to address the deep causes of the decline while mitigating the burdens of its worst effects.”

Source: Opinion | China Isn’t Having Enough Babies – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  The writers do well, but they do not connect to climate change and the sixth extinction, which makes their work very anthropocentric.

Posted in: China, Population Growth

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Glaciers Are Retreating. Millions Rely on Their Water. – The New York Times

“On a summer day in the mountains high above Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, the Tuyuksu glacier is melting like mad. Rivulets of water stream down the glacier’s thin leading edge.

As she has for nearly two decades, Maria Shahgedanova, a glaciologist at the University of Reading in England, has come here to check on the Tuyuksu. As one of the longest-studied glaciers anywhere, the Tuyuksu helps gauge the impact of climate change on the world’s ice.”

Source: Glaciers Are Retreating. Millions Rely on Their Water. – The New York Times

Posted in: Climate Change, East Asia

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Opinion | The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline – The New York Times

Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Sculptures on the campus of the Alibaba Group in Hangzhou, China.CreditCreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

“In 2009, The Economist wrote about an up-and-coming global power: Brazil. Its economy, the magazine suggested, would soon overtake that of France or the U.K. as the world’s fifth largest. São Paulo would be the world’s fifth-richest city. Vast new reserves of offshore oil would provide an added boost, complemented by the country’s robust and sophisticated manufacturing sector.

To illustrate the point, the magazine’s cover featured a picture of Rio de Janeiro’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue taking off from its mountaintop as if it were a rocket.

The rocket never reached orbit. Brazil’s economy is now limping its way out of the worst recession in its history. The murder rate — 175 people per day in 2017 — is at a record high. One former president is in jail, another was impeached. The incoming president is an admirer of the country’s old military dictatorship, only he thinks it should have killed the people it tortured.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first tout as countries of the future.

I thought about The Economist story while reading a deeply reported and thought-provoking series in The Times about another country of the future: China. The phrase “rise of China” has now become so commonplace that we treat it more as a fact of nature than as a prediction of a very familiar sort — one made erroneously about the Soviet Union in the 1950s and ’60s; about Japan in the ’70s and ’80s; and about the European Union in the ’90s and ’00s.”

Source: Opinion | The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Bret Stephens, as my father liked to say, you’re not as dumb as you look.  Thank you for another terrific, mind-bending piece.

I hope your are right, but fear you are wrong. The Chinese appear to be preparing for the future, fighting for our lives and the lives of our grand children against climate change, better than the United States, which is deeply troubling. You do not appear to understand that climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis. Humans are putting 110 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every What.

Take a guess. Every year, month, week, day or hour. Take a guess.

Unfortunately the answer is daily. No wonder the coral and the shellfish are dying all over the oceans. Scientist who study the sixth extinction predict gloomily, that not only are we humans the cause of the sixth extinction, but we will be one of the myriad species that fails during it.

David Lindsay Jr. has written and performs a folk music concert and sing-a-long about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Posted in: China, David Lindsay, Decline and Renaissanace, The Sixth Extinction of Species

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The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard? – By Somini Sengupta – The New York Times

“HANOI, Vietnam — Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial age, has led the planet to the brink of catastrophic climate change.

Scientists have repeatedly warned of its looming dangers, most recently on Friday, when a major scientific report issued by 13 United States government agencies warned that the damage from climate change could knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end if significant steps aren’t taken to rein in warming.

An October report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on global warming found that avoiding the worst devastation would require a radical transformation of the world economy in just a few years.

Central to that transformation: Getting out of coal, and fast.

And yet, three years after the Paris agreement, when world leaders promised action, coal shows no sign of disappearing. While coal use looks certain to eventually wane worldwide, according to the latest assessment by the International Energy Agency, it is not on track to happen anywhere fast enough to avert the worst effects of climate change. Last year, in fact, global production and consumption increased after two years of decline.”

Source: The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard? – The New York Times

Posted in: Climate Change, Climate Change Polluters, Post War Problems in Vietnam

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Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide – EcoWatch

Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide

There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency, in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.

Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of a Dalit widow.

Photo credit: Nourishing Revolution”Even as India gets richer, we have emerged as the capital of hunger and malnutrition. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 42.5 percent of children under five years old were underweight. This is more than double the African average of 21 percent, which until recently was the face of hunger.

The second tragedy is that our food producers, the small farmers who have provided food to more than a billion Indians and hold the potential to provide healthy food for all, are themselves dying because of agriculture and trade policies which put corporate profits above the rights and well being of our small farmers. More than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, when the rules for the globalization of agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were implemented, transforming food into a commodity, agriculture into corporate business and shifting control over seeds and food from farmers to a handful of giant multinational corporations.

The third tragedy is that even those who get food are being denied their right to healthy and nourishing food. The explosion of junk food, of pesticides and toxics in our food, have created a disease epidemic that is a human tragedy and an economic burden. There is an epidemic of diseases related to our lifestyle and food, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, infertility and cardiovascular diseases.

The recent Maggi noodle scandal highlights the rapid invasion of junk food in the Indian diet. We are what we eat. When we eat food full of toxic chemicals, we pay the price with our health. India has emerged as the epicenter of diabetes.

In 2004, 8.2 lac Indians were diagnosed with diabetes and 2.6 lac succumbed to the disease. In 2012, the diabetes numbers jumped to 180 lac diagnosed and 7 lac dead. In 2010 alone, India spent 32 billion dollars on diabetes care. Cancer has also seen an increase by 30 percent in the last 5 years, with 180 million people affected in India. At 10 lac treatment per cancer victim this multiplies to 300 billion dollars, or 18 lac crores in rupees.

In extensive studies reported in “Poisons In Our Food” by Navdanya, elevated levels of PCBs, DDE and DDT have been found in the blood of women suffering from breast cancer. Studies show that 51 percent of all food commodities are contaminated by pesticides.”

Source: Vandana Shiva: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger and Farmers Should Commit Suicide – EcoWatch

Posted in: Agriculture, Climate Change, India

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59000 farmer suicides in India over 30 years may be linked to climate change- study says – By Vidhi Doshi – The Washington Post

August 1, 2017


A farmer sits on a dried-up patch of land in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in May 2015. (Jagadeesh Nv/European Pressphoto Agency)

“Every year, thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide. Now one researcher thinks it may have something to do with climate change.

Tamma Carleton, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, compared almost five decades worth of suicide and climate data and concluded that temperature variations in India may have “a strong influence” on suicide rates during the growing season.

In her study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Carleton estimates that more than 59,000 farmer suicides over the past 30 years can be linked to global warming.

Carleton’s findings are particularly worrisome and come just two months after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate accord, which was adopted by 196 countries, including the United States under the Obama administration in December 2015. As part of the agreement, world leaders committed to holding the average global temperature rise to “well below” two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After President Trump pulled out of the accord, many countries, including India and China, said they would continue to honor their commitments under the accord.”

“. . . . High temperatures in the growing season reduce crop yields, putting economic pressure on India’s farmers, she writes. “These crop losses may also permeate throughout the economy, causing both farming and nonfarming populations to face distress as food prices rise and agricultural labor demand falls.”

Rainfall in the growing season, too, is important, Carleton suggests. More rain means higher yields, she writes, noting: “Suicide rates fall as growing season rainfall increases.”

According to the World Health Organization, India accounts for the highest number of suicidesin the world. A staggering 133,623 people took their own lives in 2015, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau. More than 12,000 of those were farmers and agricultural laborers, almost one-tenth of the total.

According to Indian authorities, bankruptcy and indebtedness or farming-related issues are cited as the major causes of suicide among farmers in India.”

Source: 59,000 farmer suicides in India over 30 years may be linked to climate change, study says – The Washington Post

Posted in: Climate Change, India

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1,000 Pieces of Plastic Found Inside Dead Whale in Indonesia – By Daniel Victor – The New York Times

“More than 1,000 assorted pieces of plastic, including 115 cups, 25 bags, four bottles and two flip-flops, have been found inside a dead sperm whale in Indonesia, according to local officials.

The whale, found washed ashore Monday in Wakatobi National Park, was already decomposing when rescuers arrived, so investigators were unable to determine if the plastic caused its death, said Lukas Adhyakso, the conservation director of the World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia. The plastic weighed about six kilograms, or 13 pounds, he said.

But images of the dead whale resonated in Indonesia, a country that has started to reckon with its outsize use of plastics. Indonesia, a nation of about 260 million people spread over thousands of islands in Southeast Asia, was the world’s second-biggest producer of plastic waste in 2015, behind only China, according to a study in the journal Science.”

Source: 1,000 Pieces of Plastic Found Inside Dead Whale in Indonesia – The New York Times

Posted in: Indonesia, Population Growth

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Why Southeast Asia and Australia’s Coral Reefs Became So Rich in Species – By Steph Yin – NYT

By Steph Yin,  Oct. 17, 2018

“Dive into the coral reefs of Southeast Asia or Australia and you’ll likely spot a wrasse. But which of the hundreds of kinds of wrasses will you see?

These fish can be an inch to more than eight feet in length. They can be skinny like cigars or hefty like footballs. Some are somber-colored; others look like they’re attending a rave. Different species have their own creative feeding strategies: humphead wrasses crush shellfish; tubelip wrasses slurp corals and cleaner wrasses act like carwashes, eating parasites and dead tissue off other sea creatures.

This spectacular diversity stems from wrasse ancestors that migrated from the prehistoric Tethys Sea to the area that now bridges the Pacific and Indian Oceans. There, in a vast and vibrant cradle of coral reefs, they settled and steadily diversified over tens of millions of years.

Their story fits into a larger pattern. This region, the Central Indo-Pacific, has become the hot spot with the most biodiversity in Earth’s oceans because many ancestors of today’s marine life colonized it so long ago, according to a recent paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.”

Source: Why Southeast Asia and Australia’s Coral Reefs Became So Rich in Species – The New York Times

Posted in: Environment, The Sixth Extinction of Species

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Opinion | Heat and Humidity Are a Killer Combination – By Ethan Coffel, Radley Horton and Colin Raymond – NYT

I am sorry to report that there is some very bad news for Vietnam and Southeast Asia in this science report from the NYT.

Photo, a man in India suffers heat exhaustion, NYT

I predicted in 2014, that in the next five years, the US would get serious and wake up about climate change. Unfortunately, this scientific news will help the prediction. It also explains yesterday. Connecticut had high humidity and high temperature, which explains why playing tennis in the late afternoon and then morris dancing made me feel severly exhausted.

The authors are climate scientists at Dartmouth College and Columbia University.

“After enduring another scorching summer — the fourth-hottest on record for the contiguous United States — it may be hard to imagine conditions getting much worse. But as a new report from the United Nations’ panel on climate change warns, we are locked in to additional warming and other changes like sea level rise. And we are running out of time to avert potentially catastrophic outcomes.

One critically important and underreported fact is that as temperatures rise, absolute humidity, the total amount of moisture in the air, will also increase. That may create combinations of heat and humidity so extreme that the evaporation of human sweat won’t sufficiently cool our bodies, leaving even healthy adults at risk of death from overheating.

Our research suggests that in about 50 years, these deadly conditions — almost unknown on the planet today — could occur once per decade in parts of the world. Millions of people could be exposed to these extreme conditions if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise following historical trends.”

Source: Opinion | Heat and Humidity Are a Killer Combination – The New York Times

Posted in: Climate Change

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