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Scientists liken Chinese smog to ‘nuclear winter’

Feb. 27 2014

Air pollution in parts of China is now so extreme it could lead to conditions similar to a “nuclear winter,” scientists say. The smog that covers the country has become so thick it is impeding photosynthesis, potentially disrupting China’s food supply.

China’s pollution problem is reaching crisis point, with acrid smog covering six southern provinces for the past week. Over the last few days a total of 19 cities have recorded levels of pollution drastically exceeding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety levels.

Beijing’s concentration of micro-particles small enough to enter into people’s lungs and trigger serious health issues reached 505 micrograms per cubic meter Tuesday. The WHO’s safe level is 25 micrograms per meter.

The toxic smog is having severe consequences, with aircraft being grounded across the country because of poor visibility, roads closing and a significant reduction in tourist numbers. An associate professor at China Agricultural University, He Dongxian, told the South China Morning Post that if these conditions continued, China will experience something akin to a “nuclear winter.”

Furthermore, she said an experiment in Beijing in recent months had shown a significant slowdown in photosynthesis (the process by which plants turn light into chemical energy). According to He Dongxian’s tests, chili and tomato seeds that usually take 20 days to sprout could take over two months to grow into seedlings.

"They will be lucky to live at all. Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic," He Dongxian said, adding that the poor seedling quality would have a severe effect on agricultural output this year.

Beijing authorities have come under fire from environmental organizations this week for failing to activate a red alert – which requires schools to close to minimize the impact of the smog on the public.

"The officials are not proactive enough. They should listen to public opinion when setting the conditions [for the alerts],” said Greenpeace campaigner Huang Wei, adding that the authorities had not met the public’s expectations.

China’s smog problem has begun to affect its neighbors overseas. On Wednesday officials in Kumamoto prefecture in southwestern Japan issued a health warning to residents after a dramatic rise in air pollution levels. Authorities advised people to stay indoors and not to exercise outside.

Ministers from China, Japan and South Korea are set to meet in May to discuss ways to mitigate the rising levels of pollution in the region. China has been criticized by its neighbors for its excessive use of coal-burning power stations.

Ethical Oil Campaign Uses Racist, Anti-First Nations hashtag



Thanks @maybeedmonton for adding the picture, I was updating from my phone 

I guess Ethical Oil forgot about their earlier campaign: 

Which was also pretty anti-Black/playing up some nasty ‘western world guiding light of civilization’ tropes    

We’re Simply Not Taking Care of the Planet

Take the loaded question, “can we feed the world?” The knee-jerk response to this is “no,” but that’s the wrong answer. In a traveling lecture that directly addresses the question, farmer/author Joel Salatin offers some surprising statistics to illustrate just how inefficient we’ve become with food and land use. Aside from the fact that for the first time in human history we’re not eating 50 percent of the food we produce, Salatin points out that a staggering 40 million acres in the United States are tied up in lawn turf, while another 36 million acres are devoted to recreational horses. My takeaway is that we have the space and capacity to feed the world, but we simply choose not to. We’d rather consume, waste, and consume some more. The culprit, I believe, is a flat-out inhumane obsession with development and progress no matter what the cost.

—editor’s note (pg. 5) in the January/February 2013 Utne Reader by Christian Williams


Journalist: Do you feel, however, that we’re making progress in this country?

Malcolm X: No, no. I will never say that progress is being made. If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. They won’t even admit that the knife is there!

China paper says leaders must listen after riots


BEIJING — China’s most influential newspaper on Monday urged authorities to listen to people’s worries about pollution, after fears over a new waste water pipeline sparked weekend riots.

“The public’s awareness of environmental issues and their rights is increasing at a rapid pace,” said an editorial in the People’s Daily — the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist party.

China should strive to “establish an open and transparent decision-making mechanism, and build a tolerant environment for public opinion”, it said.

Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Qidong agreed Saturday to cancel plans to build a new water pipeline after thousands of local people took to the streets, overturning cars and ransacking government offices.

They were concerned that the pipeline, from a Japanese-owned paper factory, would pollute a nearby fishing port.

China’s dependence on manufacturing for economic growth has left the country struggling with a legacy of industrial pollution, and the riots were only the latest in a series of environmental protests.

Last year, a large-scale demonstration in the coastal city of Dalian forced the local government to relocate a chemical factory.

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