27. 11. 2007

China junkie

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I have become a bit of a China junkie. China looms so large in today’s sustainability debates, and the challenges that it faces are so “real time, right now”, that it makes any other country’s dilemmas look small by comparison.

So to be part of two high-level presentations from Chinese scientists in one week – one on energy issues and one on water issues – has been quite a fix.

The energy stuff has become pretty familiar. One new coal-fired power station a week (though you never hear about how many power stations they are closing down), two new nuclear reactors a year (the fastest ever nuclear build programme), vast new investments in renewables (wind, PV, hydro etc) and serious efforts (at long last!) to push energy efficiency throughout the economy.

But for China, it’s water that really matters, and the situation here is seriously gloomy. 60% of China’s rivers are seriously polluted; 28% of them are judged to be “completely useless”; 20% of drinking water fails to meet minimum standards; almost every one of China’s fresh water lakes is heavily polluted by agricultural and detergent run-off, leading to massive algal blooms; 80% of discharges to sea are illegal, with huge “dead zones” stretching up and down the coast; at least 10 million hectares of land have been seriously contaminated by the run-off of toxic chemicals and heavy metals – and I could go on!

The damage to China’s economy is just massive – as was eloquently recognised by President Hu Jintao in his recent speech to the Party Congress. And there are good political reasons for trying to get on top of the water challenge: there are literally tens of thousands of civil protests every year around China, many of them relating directly to the pollution and misuse of water.

So the Chinese Government is starting to crack down on polluters (including the 250 multinational companies based in China), to charge much more realistic prices for the use of water, and to build hundreds of sewage treatment works.

Given the horrific legacy the country faces, after decades of systematic abuse of the water environment as China became the “workshop to the world”, it’s going to take decades to get it all sorted. At precisely the point when accelerating climate change is going to make it all that much harder.

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07. 01. 2008
Pepín Estrugamou

First and foremost I'd like to deeply thank you for your personal perspective on CONSUMERISM!. It's been quite a while since I started collecting data from different documentaries and other sources and I don't know what to think about anymore. All this stuff is seriously freaky.
And what amazes me most is that there are millions around the world literally living in a bubble with TV shit and all that stuff.

Who's gonna control these most powerful institutions?. Business is more powerful than anything right?. So what then?

Peace and love.
Pepín

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