Monday, October 26, 2009

Greening Black

Take a look at these horrific photos of China's pollution (h/t PKD). Seriously, click that link. China's pollution woes are unimaginable for people in the West. But hopefully such dystopian pollution won't be the norm for too much longer.

From The New York Times:

MONTREAL — The staggering economic growth in China has come at a heavy cost, paid in severe contamination of the country’s air, soil and water. But now the Chinese government is aggressively pursuing more stringent environmental regulation, with a particular focus on water distribution and wastewater treatment.

Recent stimulus spending has opened up the Chinese market to green initiatives. And Canadian companies are responding to the call for advanced water treatment and reuse technology.

“It’s not well known that China has set aside more money for the adoption of clean technologies than any other country on the planet,” said Dallas Kachan, managing director of Cleantech Group in San Francisco, which tracks global investment in clean technologies.

The Chinese economic stimulus package of 4 trillion yuan, or $585 billion, announced a year ago, focused nearly 40 percent of its spending on environmental and energy-efficient projects.


China’s water shortage, especially in the northern part of the country, is driving a need for wastewater recycling. “Right now, only 30 to 40 percent of the wastewater gets treated in China,” said Steve Watzeck, president of engineered systems at G.E. Water. “But we understand that Beijing aims to reuse 100 percent of its wastewater by 2013. Implementing advanced wastewater reuse technologies is key to China’s continued industrial growth.”

China’s capability in clean water technology is still underdeveloped. But the country’s solar industry is an example of how quickly it can sprint to the fore. Mr. Kachan of Cleantech Group, points out that Suntech Power, the Chinese company that a year ago became the world’s leading maker of crystalline silicon solar modules, did not exist eight years ago.

Read the Entire Article
China has a long ways to go when it comes to its environment. I understand that the country has done a lot and appears to be doing more. But it still has a far, far way to go. Xi'an's perma-gray skies and oppressive air are things I'm not missing at all.

I like to see that China committed 40% of its stimulus to green growth. Where did America allocate its? Failed banks, Detroit, etc. As the film producer Robert Compton told me a few weeks ago, "China's stimulus is building while ours is bailing." Whereas I've criticized China in the past about saving face to the detriment of its economy and people, the United States could definitely be criticized for the same thing when it comes to shelling out billions to failed companies such as GM and AIG.

Americans, more and more, don't believe in global warming. I'm wondering if this attitude is going to lead us to continue the attitude that we'll be able to drill our way out of any future energy problems. It's apparent that a significant number of Americans already believe such will be the case. If this thinking continues, I have to think that America is going to be left behind.

Shanxi, Shaanxi, and many other Chinese provinces are going to continue to pump out coal and China is going to continue to get oil from Africa and the Middle East. But China does deserve credit for making efforts towards serious green growth.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I hear a lot of tools screaming that global warming is a sham everytime there is a really cold day. The five hottest days ever recorded in Vegas all occured in the past decade. You won't find a single firefighter in California, that has had to fight those dry brushfires, who thinks global warming is a sham. I wonder how many of these Americans are actual scientists. When the scientific community, which overwhelmingly believes global warming is a problem, starts making those claims then I may actually take it seriously.

Those pictures are pretty disturbing, but if you look hard enough you could take similar pictures right here in America. Granted, China's pollution problem is infinitely worse right now. They do appear to be trying to rectify this situation as its becoming quite clear that there will be real costs, not just human ones, associated with all that pollution.

Mark Carver said...

I dunno man, a major rule of developing nations is you can't have environmental preservation and economic growth side by side. And economics always wins. There is no developing country that is working hard to preserve its environment on a nation scale, at least as far as I can tell. GDP growth is always the favorite son. China's been treating its environment like a crack whore for decades and its not gonna stop anytime soon because that would slow down the runaway GDP train, and we can't have that now can we. Statements like these look nice to the world, but in my opinion, this is some bull****.

Mark said...

I know where you're coming from, 马克. But I think it's possible green growth will be the the new thing. Whereas the internet was the thing in the 90s, green energy seems like it could be the new area of tremendous growth. The end of green energy production, like the end of developing the internet, is a good thing.

It is optimistic to think China will get excited about going green considering how much coal they have and such, but I see it as a realistic possibility.

Anonymous said...

马克, growth over the environment has certainly been the rule of thumb since the dawn of time and I am sure China feels its unfair that they are expected to now put forth a concerted effort to go green as it grows. I think you bring up a great point, all the rhetoric could all be just for show and I think in a few years time we will really understand if China is serious or just paying lip service.

I think the one thing that leads me to believe China will make a genuine effort is that in this new century going green may actually prove to be economically beneficial in the long run. Its funny because I feel exactly as Mark does about the green revolution that is coming. Certainly it was easy to be an entrepreneur during the internet revolution, all you needed was a computer and an internet connection. While the barriers to entry may be higher, I think the next pioneers will be green pioneers. I think we're seeing signs of it with new car manufacturers like Tesla motors starting up and even small companies that produce single family home windmills that allow people to break ties with the power company and even sell power back to the grid.