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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Opinion | The Dangerous Naïveté of Trump and Xi – The New York Times

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist    Nov. 17, 2018,      280 comments

 

President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing last November.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

 

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President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing last November.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are a bit alike, and that presents a danger to the global order.

The American and Chinese leaders are both impetuous, authoritarian and overconfident nationalists, and each appears to underestimate the other side’s capacity to inflict pain. This dangerous symmetry leaves the two sides hurtling toward each other.

The 10 percent tariffs already imposed in the trade war are scheduled to rise to 25 percent in January, but there’s also a broader confrontation emerging.

Trump and Xi may well be able to reach a cease-fire in their trade war when they meet for the Group of 20 in two weeks. Even if a deal is reached, though, it may be only a temporary respite that doesn’t alter the dynamic of two great nations increasingly on a collision course.”

Source: Opinion | The Dangerous Naïveté of Trump and Xi – The New York Times

David Lindsay: Thank you Nicholas Kristof. Yes, and here are the top comments, which I endorsed:

ShenBowen
New York
Times Pick

I agree with many things in this article, but I’m not certain that Xi has shown himself to be ‘impetuous’. On the contrary, I believe that most of his actions are deliberate and carefully considered. I have been impressed with Xi’s constraint in his responses to Trump’s Twitter rants. If Xi was ‘impetuous’ he might have pulled the trigger and put an end to the Chinese buying of US Treasury Bonds. Also, I suppose that you could make the argument that the two men are ‘a bit’ alike, but there is one very big difference, Xi is a very intelligent man and Trump is not.

Aaron commented November 18

Aaron
Tokyo  
Times Pick

And those of us in Japan and Korea are caught in the middle. The contest will likely be decided by which side has the most friends. Indeed, the TPP would have been a very strong economic platform favoring the US. Trump chose to scuttle it and he has also chosen to starve the state department, effectively crippling the two biggest, peaceful levers America had to work with: trade incentives and diplomacy. Hopefully the next US President will revive these programs, but for now, we haven’t much choice but to hunker down.

 

Posted in: China, Nicholas Kristof, Trade and Trade Policy

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How China Took Over Your TV – By QUOCTRUNG BUI and SUI-LEE WEET – The New York Times

“It’s not just about powering growth. It’s also about national security and self-sufficiency.

China wants to build homegrown champions in cutting-edge industries that rival Western giants like Apple and Qualcomm. While China has a long way to go, the Communist Party is bringing the full financial weight of the state and forcing other countries to play defense.

In doing so, China is staking out a new manufacturing model.

Economic textbooks lay out a common trajectory for developing nations. First they make shoes, then steel. Next they move into cars, computers and cellphones. Eventually the most advanced economies tackle semiconductors and automation. As they climb up the manufacturing ladder, they abandon some cheaper goods along the way.

That’s what the United States, Japan and South Korea did. But China is defying the economic odds by trying to do all of them.

Look at the evolution of what China sells to the rest of the world. As it ramped up its manufacturing engine in 2000, China was pretty good at making basic products like toys and umbrellas.”

Source: How China Took Over Your TV – The New York Times

Posted in: Business and Finance, China

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Opinion | China and Trump- Listen Up! – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“HONG KONG — I’ve been in Tokyo and Hong Kong this week, and if I were to distill what echoed in all my conversations, it would sound something like this:

From Chinese business and government types, some real anxiety — “Can you please tell me what is President Trump’s bottom line in this trade war? Is this about rebalancing trade or containing China’s rise?” — combined with some real bravado — “You realize that you Americans are too late? We’re too big to be pushed around anymore. You should have done this a decade ago.”

From the Japanese it was gratitude — “Thank God for Donald Trump. Finally we have a U.S. president who understands what a threat China is!” — combined with real anxiety — “Please, please be careful. Don’t go too far with Beijing and break the global trading system.”

And from a smart European consultant it was bewilderment — “Boy did the Chinese have a failure of intelligence. They had no clue just how much both Democrats and Republicans, and Europeans, all want to see Trump hammer China in these trade talks. But please, please don’t start a cold war with China that will force us to choose sides.”

And from me to both my Chinese and Japanese interlocutors: I’m glad Trump is confronting China on its market access barriers. Those are the real issue — not the bilateral trade imbalance. This is long overdue. But trade is not a zero-sum game. China can thrive and rise, and we can, too, at the same time. That’s what’s been happening for the past 40 years. But we’d be even better off if China offered the kind of easy access to its market for U.S. manufacturers that it enjoys in America. It’s time to recalibrate U.S.-China economic ties before it really is too late.”

 

Thank you Thomas Friedman. Here is a comment I support.

Edward
Philadelphia
Times Pick

In this situation it seems time to cut off access rather than beg for it over and over. If the US and the EU both installed a policy that all policies regarding access are a mirror of the country in question, then the ball is moved into China’s court. Open up and keep access to those markets or stay closed and stay home. Back that up with huge trade and military agreement with the rest of Asia.

Source: Opinion | China and Trump, Listen Up! – The New York Times

Posted in: Thomas Friedman, Trade and Trade Policy

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Suicides Among Japanese Children Reach Highest Level in 3 Decades – The New York Times

By Motoko Rich and Makiko Inoue

“TOKYO — Suicides by young people in Japan rose to their highest level in three decades in 2017, according to new figures released by the government.

Japan has a persistent problem with suicides, although the number has been declining over all. But child suicides have risen recently, with experts pointing to school pressures and bullying as likely triggers.

Last year 250 children in elementary, middle and high schools committed suicide, the highest number since 1986, according to data released last month by the Education Ministry.

According to the Education Ministry survey of schools, most of the students did not leave any explanation for why they decided to take their own lives. Of those who did, the most frequently cited reason was worries over what path to take after graduation. Other reasons included family problems and bullying.”

Source: Suicides Among Japanese Children Reach Highest Level in 3 Decades – The New York Times

David Lindsay: Apparently, the schools do not have a School Counselor, like American public schools all do.

Posted in: Japan, Science

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Opinion | Could Asian-Americans Turn Orange County Blue? – By Viet Thanh Nguyen – NYT

Viet Thanh Nguyen

By Viet Thanh Nguyen

Mr. Nguyen is a contributing opinion writer who lives in Los Angeles.

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South Vietnamese and American flags flying at the an annual Vietnamese boat people ceremony at Westminster Memorial Park in Westminster, Calif., in April.CreditCreditLeonard Ortiz/Orange County Register, via Getty Images

“When I was a freshman at the University of California, Riverside, in 1988, I drove a carload of excited fellow Vietnamese students to nearby Orange County. It was only 13 years after the end of the Vietnam War, but already there was a Vietnamese American Dream, symbolized by our destination, the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster. To the strains of Vietnamese pop music, we ate Vietnamese food, browsed Vietnamese goods, and sat in the balcony of the American-style mall, sipping Vietnamese iced coffee while we watched Vietnamese people.

The mall was the heart of the Little Saigon in Orange County. By 1988, Little Saigon was already firmly established, with multitudes of Vietnamese shops, restaurants and businesses lining Bolsa Avenue. This community was populated with Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese refugees who had fled the end of the war. It was deeply anti-Communist. Orange County as a whole was also anti-Communist and quite conservative, but it was also very white at the time. The arrival of so many refugees from Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s was not welcomed by everyone in Westminster and Orange County.

Thirty years later, Westminster has a Vietnamese-American mayor, and Orange County has elected several Vietnamese-American politicians. Most have been Republicans, and vocally anti-Communist. But Communism is no longer the national issue it once was, and while the older generation of Vietnamese-Americans tends to be Republican and conservative, the younger generation has largely abandoned the Republican Party, either to become Democrats or independents. These shifts point toward larger changes in the once staunchly Republican Orange County, which is today leaning more Democratic and independent. The political changes are at least partly due to demographics in a county that is now one-fifth Asian and one-third Latino, whereas in 1980 four out of five residents were non-Latino white.

This mix of demographics and ideology in Orange County may be one of the prime reasons the Republican Party is committed to an anti-immigration agenda that seeks to turn America back to before 1965. It was then that a new law, the Immigration and Naturalization Act, created a more equitable immigration policy. For decades before, the United States had kept people out who came from Africa, Asia or Latin America, beginning with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. If you hail from one of those continents, the 1965 Immigration Act has mostly been a success. But for the Republican Party, whose base has beenmostly white for years, the prospect of a majority-minority country that has arisen after 1965 might spell political decline.”

Source: Opinion | Could Asian-Americans Turn Orange County Blue? – The New York Times

Posted in: North America, Politics and Economics

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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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