Pollution, pollution

pollution-in-china-luguang1
The Tianjin Steel Plant in Hebei province.

Indescribably beautiful (if that’s the right word) photos by Lu Guang of the underbelly of China’s economic miracle, the part we all want to forget. Simply breathtaking in their eerie, terrible beauty.

If anything is to keep China from from becoming a true superpower, the smart money is on pollution.

Via Danwei.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 113 Comments

Sure has these folks down though…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyistav_cjY

Outside experts who reviewed the videotape at the request of the newspaper said they were concerned that Ho can be heard moaning and crying as he was on the ground, rather than offering substantial resistance. And experts expressed alarm that Ho appears to have been handcuffed before the final baton strike occurs.

source: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_13639917?source=most_emailed

Seems like “the white man” has it in for the Vietnamese:

Cau Bich Tran, 25-years-old, was also shot and killed in her home when officers arrived at her house responding to a domestic disturbance call and shot her after police mistakenly took her vegetable peeler for a cleaver.

October 26, 2009 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

You know, I’m pretty tolerant with threads going off-topic, but this is really getting ridiculous. Can we at least keep this vaguely focused on, you know, the environment and stuff like that?

October 26, 2009 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

Merp is a broken record. No matter what the topic of the post, he always says the same thing: America bad, therefore China not bad. He is going to be banned very soon for trolling (when you keep derailing threads, that’s trolling, Merp).

October 26, 2009 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

@PB: I gave him credit for a funny comment… so he fucked it up by being himself, meh. I suppose whitey did get him down.

Horses for courses.

October 26, 2009 @ 6:51 pm | Comment

Other Lisa/Lisa, I’ll try to get the thread back on track a bit by talking about something you mentioned. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned smaller, more localized manufacturing- most people would honestly be shocked if they knew how many times all the components of some end-use consumer products have crossed the ocean. I mean some of it is truly insane- like fish getting caught in Canada/Norway, shipped to China to be processed, and then shipped back again for consumption.

The cheap energy that has enabled all this (and created a world where labour is the primary cost consideration, not resources) looks to be on its way out. Of course, there is going to be a period of backlash and economic turmoil as always accompanies these sort of shifts- think about all the vested interests with their business survival pegged to growth in global trade (logistics companies, ports, shipping, you name it). On the ideological front, there will also be a fierce battle over the idea of trade as a desirable end onto itself, an idea which has been ingrained in the global elite for decades now.

On the power generation side of things, I believe we will also see a shift towards more decentralized and distributed generation. People who say that renewables will “never” replace the generation capabilities of fossil fuels are missing half the picture. Renewables might indeed never be able to match the massive, centralized power plant model, but will this model even be needed once buildings become much more efficienct and self-sustainable? I think in the next few decades, people will be surprised by the level to which power generation becomes more of a local level responsibility.

Alas, a drastic shift like this will also have backlash from vested interests and important social consequences. Think of how much the modern nation-state is dependent on centralized infrastructure for its cohesiveness- everyone is hooked into massive power and commercial “grids”, economically dependent on major infrastructure networks and so on. Centralized economies (in which I would include Western countries- who are we kidding, we are oligarchies) are dependent on these massive and environmentally destructive infrastructure webs, and so are the large corporate entities that profit from this scale. But decentralizing power generation is in a sense the re-democratization of infrastructure and a pushback against the powers of an overarching, centralized state and its associated profiteers. Think about it- your heating, cooling and electricity is all generated on-site as opposed to in some massive power plant 400 miles away by a utility who has complete control over you through billing. This is why I am frankly amazed that more genuine Republicans in the US aren’t hardcore green- the whole idea of renewable, decentralized energy fits right into the smaller gov’t paradigm.

So I think many people are looking at renewables all wrong- they are trying to see how they will run the existing grid and global industrial structure (which at this stage, is what is happening). But they miss the potential for renewables down the line to REALLY shake things up by making the very idea of a huge, expansive power grid increasingly obsolete and reducing economic dependence on large, remote actors. And the political implications of changes like these could be enormous.

October 26, 2009 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

The technology to power an entire house and provide/stock the equivalent of 20-kW-hrs already exists.

New battery could change world, one house at a time

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/article_b0372fd8-3f3c-11de-ac77-001cc4c002e0.html

That is clearly the way to go. Not sure if the oil and energy companies will appreciate it as much as we do.

The solutions are out there, and they’ve been there for a very long time. Suppressed green technologies that you haven’t even heard of (but might soon in the near future).

It’s always about political bullshit, vested interest and money. We have the resources to create a better world for all of us, but we don’t have enough money to do so… Do you see the absurdity in this sentence?

October 26, 2009 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

“Come to Los Angeles and make that “blob” comment. I dare ya! 🙂 We are the capital of Size 0, don’t you know…”

Actually, I did, well not really. I went to L.A a couple of years ago, to attend a convention, and snapped a picture of a woman (I won’t describe her out of respect), eating an ice cream. My comment was in fact partially inspired by this memory.

My blob comment was meant to underscore something that is very obvious to most non-American people witnessing it: A culture of extreme excess.

Fortunately for you Lisa, it seems that the West coast is somehow more aware of this, and measures are being put into place right now to address these issues.

October 26, 2009 @ 10:35 pm | Comment

Bao,

Your point about resources and money is an interesting one. That is the joy of a fiat money system- the amount of currency can be infinite as it is really just numbers on a screen, but people forget at the end of the day these numbers lay claim to very real and finite physical resources. Over the past few decades we have all paid way too much attention to the production of money as opposed to the resources actually underlying our civilization. Money itself is not wealth- it is a representation of wealth that we have invented. I think it is imperative to look at this crossover between environmental problems and the financial system.

October 26, 2009 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

Great comment, PB.

And yeah, Bao, there are plenty of obese people in CA, unfortunately. I honestly think it points to a problem with our whole economic/industrial infrastructure. People work very long hours, often at far distances from their homes, and they live in suburbs that are not designed for walking. The whole system is unhealthy.

My perspective is skewed by living on the West Side in the capital of the entertainment industry, so you just kinda take “beautiful people” for granted. Thankfully, I also live in a place that is set up well for walking and biking, and that has an impact as well. It’s much easier to lead a healthier lifestyle when the surrounding community promotes it.

October 27, 2009 @ 3:54 am | Comment

Merp is a broken record.

Stuart is, but you don’t seem to mind his rampant anti-Chinese trolling.

Think about it- your heating, cooling and electricity is all generated on-site as opposed to in some massive power plant 400 miles away by a utility who has complete control over you through billing.

You can have aeroponic farms taking up a relatively small portion of your home creating a significant share of your calories too, but you- [gets kidnapped by FBI]

This is why I am frankly amazed that more genuine Republicans in the US aren’t hardcore green- the whole idea of renewable, decentralized energy fits right into the smaller gov’t paradigm.

Easy, because they abandoned their “core values” a long time ago.

line to REALLY shake things up by making the very idea of a huge, expansive power grid increasingly obsolete and reducing economic dependence on large, remote actors.

This is why rural solar is a big thing for China, it’s a cheap and quick way to get people hot water and sanitation right off the bat without having to build much infrastructure.

@Lisa
And yeah, Bao, there are plenty of obese people in CA, unfortunately.

Even more in most other states

October 27, 2009 @ 6:17 am | Comment

We are all about the solar here in CA. It’s a great thing.

Another amazing sight — going to Xinjiang, to Urumqi, and passing the windfarm there. It’s really something…

October 27, 2009 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Those aren’t really wind farms. Those are Han death camps powered by the blood of Uiguarodon babies.

October 27, 2009 @ 7:16 am | Comment

I just arrived in LA, and can’t believe the gas prices and the cost of my taxi ride to the hotel. In some ways Phoenix does have some advantages. Then again, you get what you pay for.

Merp, Stuart didn’t use any obscenity, and whether I agree with him or not, his comments at least make sense and are rational. You are like a machine, with all due respect, that pops out fenqing talking points on cue.

This thread is now pretty bloated. Please use the new open thread if you want to continue the discussion, thanks.

October 27, 2009 @ 7:17 am | Comment

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