China’s Changing Waste Management

China’s rate of economic development has caused massive change in the country and that includes the impact on waste management. Waste from consumer goods, industry, and other “good” things for the economy causes huge problems around the world. China is now at a turning point that can see interesting solutions to problems the developed world has had an easier time dealing with.

The sheer amount of pollution in China is causing people in the city to protest government policies. Environmental consciousness is growing in China.

Chinese waste management stands at a watershed moment. Rising environmental consciousness among the educated, urban middle class—who insist on clean air, clean water, and a clean landscape—may compel the Chinese government to act.

One foreign observer I spoke to noted that contemporary Chinese protests are “always environmental.” Recent events seem to support his point. Grist has reported on artist-activists who make pollution the central feature of their work. And in May, protests exploded after locals caught wind of imminent groundbreaking on a new garbage incinerator in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai. It is the latest example of what has become widespread opposition to burning waste.

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Remembering Tiananmen Square

25 years ago in Tiananmen Square there was a protest against the Chinese government. The protest was dealt with lethal force by the government – killing many people. Since then, the Chinese government has blocked any discussion about the protest and has greatly censored information on it. Obviously all of this isn’t good news.

To curtail the efforts of propaganda artists and censors in China there are groups that are trying to ensure that we don’t forget about the protest. This is good because if we forget our collective history we deny ourselves a richer, more knowledgable, existence. If we don’t remember the people who stood up then we are joining the efforts of the government that censored their protest.

The Tiananmen Initiative Project aims to reignite discussion of the meaning of the Spring 1989 movement in China and the as yet unfulfilled promise of genuine political reform its participants sought. We aim to do this by encouraging various kinds of public meetings around the world around the time of the twenty-fifth anniversary – April 15-June 4, 2014 – of what has aptly been called the Beijing Spring.

Check out the Tiananmen Initiative Project.
An article on Tiananmen at NPR.

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China’s Wind Turbine Industry Booming

For years China has been trying to improve its sustainable energy production but to do so Chinese companies had to rely on patents and techniques from the rest of the world. Due to an increase in demand (and production knowledge) China is now poised to make the best, most efficient, and easiest to maintain wind turbines.

Already, the amount of wind energy outputted in China puts the rest of the planet to shame.

However, since China’s total generation is more than that of all European Union countries combined, wind’s percentage is large in absolute terms.

Liming Qiao, China director of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), said: “Two per cent sounds small but it’s not when you consider China’s total electricity.

“In fact, last year wind surpassed nuclear to become number three after coal and hydro, and it’s got a lot more potential.”

The sheer scale of the wind market is encouraging mass production which has lowered prices and fostered innovation.

Until recently, Chinese wind manufacturers produced Western-designed turbines under licence. Some acquired a reputation for turning out inferior products.

Now, the wind boom has led to a flurry of new designs. Goldwind, for example, offers a turbine which does not need a gearbox but instead has a “direct drive” system designed to be cheaper to maintain.

Read more at the BBC.

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India Bans Shark Finning

Chinese demand for the fins of sharks (I have no idea what they are good for) has gone up over the past couple years. India is one of the largest exports of shark parts to China and the Indian government has decided to ban the act of removing fins from sharks.

Worldwide, sharks are in sharp decline, with some species’ numbers now 10 per cent of what they were three decades ago. Their demise threatens the health of ocean ecosystems, experts say, as the top predators are key to keeping fish and turtle populations in check. Tens of millions are caught every year.

Conservationists applauded the ministry’s move as key to ending a cruel practice threatening to push some shark populations to the brink.

“Given the perilous status of many shark species, we urge the state governments to act quickly and work to enforce the policy,” said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

More at the CBC.

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10 MW Ocean Power Plant Planned for China

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) uses the difference in temperature at different water depths to produce energy, similar to how geothermal works. A green resort in China is going to be powered by the OTEC system and the companies involved in building the power plant are hoping that this will prove the technology works well enough for larger projects.

OTEC uses the natural difference in temperatures between the cool deep water and warm surface water to produce electricity. There are different cycle types of OTEC systems, but the prototype plant is likely to be a closed-cycle system. This sees warm surface seawater pumped through a heat exchanger to vaporize a fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia. This expanding vapor is used to drive a turbine to generate electricity with cold seawater then used to condense the vapor so it can be recycled through the system.

The companies claim each 100 MW OTEC facility could produce the same amount of energy in a year as 1.3 million barrels of oil and decrease carbon emissions by half a million tons. Assuming oil trading at near US$100 a barrel, they estimate fuel savings from one plant could exceed $130 million a year.

Read more at Gizmag.

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