Monday, April 17, 2006

China Syndrome

Even as the poles warm and the hurricanes grow in strength at the tropics, the United States government continues to ignore the reality of climate change, and it continues to postpone acting decisively to help mitigate the emissions which are causing the dangerous anthropogenic change in our climate.

One of the excuses for not acting, is the so called "loop hole" for China in the Kyoto treaty.

Here is a story from Le Monde that shows that China is well aware of the dangers it faces from Climate Change.

China: the sky darkens
Le Monde
By Agnès Sinai

The Chinese government made it clear at the UN climate change conference in Montreal last December that it was aware of the extreme dangers that China faces from both immediate and long-term climate change.

Every spring, fierce winds, sweeping across the arid landscape of Inner Mongolia, blow walls of sand hundreds of kilometres eastwards, periodically enveloping Beijing and turning day to night. The authorities have planted thousands of hedges in the path of these dry whirlwinds, but the long green line is powerless against the force of the wind and the advance of the dunes.

Sandstorms could well disrupt the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The rise in temperatures is more pronounced in the great loess plains of the north than in the south of the country. According to predictions for the 21st century drawn up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, rainfall will continue to increase in the south and decline in the north, where drought, which is already reducing yields, will directly threaten agriculture and undermine economic development.

China’s glaciers retreated by 21% during the 20th century. A doubling in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would affect the distribution of major crops. China’s food-producing potential will be reduced by 10% as a result of climate change and extreme climatic events .

Scientists attribute the recent unprecedented rise of temperatures in the Sanjiangyuan region to global climate change. According to Greenpeace (4), the average temperature in this area has increased by 0.88C over the last 50 years, causing the glaciers to retreat, melting the permafrost (5), affecting rain regimes and increasing evaporation rates.


Wanted: a global policy

But all this is just a drop in that rising ocean unless the rise in temperatures across the region can be countered by a global policy to combat climate change.

According to Anja Köhne, project manager at the World Wildlife Fund’s European policy office, “the Chinese government realises that climate change is a serious problem threatening food supplies and national stability. China has 200 million poor whose living conditions could be made even worse by rising temperatures.

This is a potential cause of political destabilisation.”


According to Lester Brown of the US research organisation the Earth Policy Institute, over the next 25 years the planet will suffer an ecological catastrophe if China’s population adopts current US lifestyles.

If, by 2031, each Chinese were to use as much oil as an American does today, the country would get through 99m barrels of crude oil a day. Worldwide daily production is currently some 79m barrels. If, over the same period, per capita coal consumption were to reach US levels, China would burn 2.8m tonnes of coal per year, more than the current annual global production of 2.5m tonnes.

“Climate change,” Brown warned, “could spiral out of control

While the US government pitters away its wealth on phantom foes,

and the US media pitifully panders to the powers that be,

the real threat to our world and what is left of the peace,

continues to rumble.

You may not hear it yet.

But it is there.

It is there.


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*art courtesy of Inga McCaslin Frick


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading not too long ago that the barrels of oil consumed would double when China and India entered the picture. These numbers are SCARY - far less conservative than was formerly reported.

We're toast. It will be interesting to see how China responds to the challenge.

Your writing is terrific.

7:02 AM  

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