Tag Archives: china

China launches its first aircraft carrier

But it’s used and has no planes. China bought the vessel in 1998 from Ukraine and had it refurbished – few details of its capabilities are known. But, from Reuters, “defense experts say it lacks the strike aircraft, weapons, electronics, training and logistical support it needs to become a fighting warship.” And so it will stay in the training fleet until they figure out how to land a plane on it.

The response has largely been mocking, from the Brisbane Times, ”if it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China’s neighbours, it’s a sign of bullying.” And those neighbors are the ones in the crossfire. Japan has disputed territory with China in the East China Sea and the Philippines are arguing over a shoal in the South China Sea.

Still, it is a sign of the rising military power of the Chinese – after all, only 9 countries have an aircraft carrier. Seven of them only have one, Italy has two, and the United Kingdom only uses theirs for helicopters. So the launch could be a symbol of pride, that the Chinese are equal to the other powers. But they have a long journey ahead to challenge the United States and our 11 aircraft carriers.

 

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Occupy Asia – there are more millionaires in East Asia than North America

There are now more rich people in East Asia than in North America. Both have around 3 million millionaires and there are 11 million worldwide.

But don’t forget about the little countries. Japan still has three times as many millionaires as China.

 

Millionaires in Asia Pacific. (source : Quartz)

 

And, if the rest of Asia were to unite they would outnumber China too. Perhaps, a strategic partnership could counter-balance the Rising Tiger.

Looking at the rest of the world, North America still has more money and really rich people – more billionaires than anyone lese. Europe is solidly in third place, while the Middle East is tied with Latin America. But only tied in terms of people, not overall wealth. I guess Latin Americans can buy bigger boats than Middle Easterners.

 

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Forget about renewables, we are entering the gas age

Andrew Revkin from Dot Earth explores whether China will soon switch to natural gas and the answer appears to be, yes.

Reports showed that China — which was once considered gas poor — now has estimated volumes greater than those of the United States (which are, as you know, enormous).

 

With the two greatest economies on Earth (U.S., China) embracing natural gas (and Russia supplying Europe with substantial amounts), we appear to be entering a new “gas age”.

Again from Revkin’s article:

The gas revolution isn’t all roses.  People have legitimate worries about the environmental impacts of fracking—notably on air and water.  There are also some worrying signs that fracking operations might emit lots of greenhouse gases—which, if true, would negate much (perhaps all) of the climate change benefits from a shift to gas.  My read of that literature is that those fears have been overblown and new estimates based on serious measurement will be more reassuring.

 

Only time will tell how this new ‘gas age’ affects the planet.

 

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Rare drawings of human anatomy from centuries past

A fascinating piece of curation from Brain Pickings. Ten centuries of anatomy drawings covering everything from Civil War wounds to anti-tuberculosis flyers from China.

For the past 175 years, the The National Library of Medicine in Bethesda has been building the world’s largest collection of biomedical images, artifacts, and ephemera. With more than 17 million items spanning ten centuries, it’s a treasure trove of rare, obscure, extravagant wonders, most of which remain unseen by the public and unknown even to historians, librarians, and curators. Until now.

 

In the new book called Hidden Treasure. Several images from it were reproduced in the blog post, 10 Centuries of Visualizing the Body in Rare Archival Images.

I chose two to give you a taste: the first is an early sketch of our skeleton and muscles, the second is a Civil War-era surgical card.

The snapshots:

 

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The 9 members of China’s communist party who rule the country

 

It is a great piece that shares little known facts about the Rising Tiger, like all the elites dye their hair black (usually with “jet-black pompadours”) and only go gray once they retire or are imprisoned.

Others like how leaders are chosen every 5 years at the National Congress and the preferable color of tie is red.

The last one was held in 2007, which means that we are due. The reigning group of elites, made up of 9 men, are very powerful and completely in control of this vast country. This group includes current president Hu Jintao, and his possible replacements Xi Jinping and Wang Yang.

After them are seven more individuals who each hold immense amount of power and sway. The Foreign Policy article has bios for each of them, here is one:

 

Wang Qishan

The mayor of Beijing from 2003 to 2007, Wang Qishan is currently the vice premier responsible for economic, energy, and financial affairs, serving under outgoing premier Wen. Wang’s former counterpart, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, called him “decisive and inquisitive,” with a “wicked sense of humor.” The son-in-law of the late Vice Premier Yao Yilin, Wang is one of the princelings, a group of often high-ranking leaders who are the sons and daughters of top officials. Chinese political observers see princelings like Wang as more closely allied with the leadership faction of former President Jiang Zemin than that of current President Hu Jintao. Brookings’ Li thinks Wang, nicknamed “chief of the fire brigade” for his competence amid crisis, is almost certain to obtain a seat on the Standing Committee.

 

The rest of them are just as interesting, keep reading – Meet China’s Next Leaders

 

 

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Helping China, the world’s largest smoking country, move away from tobacco farming

Curbing tobacco use by growing less

In China, 350 million people smoke. Each year, 1 million die from smoking. Many more become disabled. Approximately 20 million Chinese farmers produce the world’s largest share of tobacco, nearly 40 percent of the global supply.

A compelling story of how one scientist created a for-profit organization for the farmers. It teaches them the skills to grow other crops, like fruits and vegetables, which allow them to increase their revenue while decreasing the supply of tobacco, something China is committed to doing.

 

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8 clean energy predictions from a decade ago…that were way wrong

From the Fresh Energy blog and a good reminder that most experts have trouble thinking exponentially.

 

WIND

  • In 2000, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its World Energy Outlook, predicting that non-hydro renewable energy would comprise 3 percent of global energy by 2020. That benchmark was reached in 2008.
  • In 2000, IEA projected that there would be 30 gigawatts of wind power worldwide by 2010, but the estimate was off by a factor of 7. Wind power produced 200 gigawatts in 2010, an investment of approximately $400 billion.
  • In 1999, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that total U.S. wind power capacity could reach 10 gigawatts by 2010. The country reached that amount in 2006 and quadrupled between 2006 and 2010.
  • In 2000, the European Wind Energy Association predicted Europe would have 50 gigawatts of wind by 2010 and boosted that estimate to 75 two years later. Actually, 84 gigawatts of wind power were feeding into the European electric grid by 2012.
  • In 2000, IEA estimated that China would have 2 gigwatts of wind power installed by 2010. China reached 45 gigawatts by the end of 2010. The IEA projected that China wind power in 2020 would be 3.7 gigawatts, but most projections now exceed 150 gigawatts, or 40 times more.

SOLAR

  • In 2000, total installed global photovoltaic solar capacity was 1.5 gigawatts, and most of it was off-the-grid, like solar on NASA satellites or on cabins in the mountains or woods.
  • In 2002, a top industry analyst predicted an additional 1 gigawatt annual market by 2010. The annual market in 2010 was 17 times that at 17 gigawatts.
  • In 1996, the World Bank estimated 0.5 gigwatts of solar photovoltaic in China by 2020, but China reached almost double that mark—900 megawatts by 2010.

 

 

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China doubles loans to Africa, now $20 billion, and agrees to operate responsibly

China said Thursday it would offer $20 billion in new loans to Africa, underscoring the relationship’s growing importance, as Chinese companies agreed to operate more responsibly on the resource-rich continent.

Beijing has poured money into Africa over the last 15 years, seeking to tap into its vast natural resources, and China became the continent’s largest trading partner in 2009.

But its aggressive move into the continent has at times caused friction with local people, with some complaining Chinese companies import their own workers, flout labour laws and mistreat local employees.

Addressing African leaders including South African President Jacob Zuma and Kenya Premier Raila Odinga, President Hu Jintao said the loans would focus on supporting infrastructure, manufacturing and the development of small businesses.

 

Source: Yahoo! News - China doubles loans to Africa to $20 billion

 

 

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A refreshing look at climate change in America – what are we doing about it?

A refreshing, well-balanced look at climate change in America.

 

You don’t have to be a climate scientist these days to know that the climate has problems. You just have to step outside.

The United States is now enduring its warmest year on record…Meanwhile, the country often seems to be moving further away from doing something about climate change, with the issue having all but fallen out of the national debate.

Behind the scenes, however, a somewhat different story is starting to emerge — one that offers reason for optimism to anyone worried about the planet. The world’s largest economies may now be in the process of creating a climate-change response that does not depend on the politically painful process of raising the price of dirty energy. The response is not guaranteed to work, given the scale of the problem. But the early successes have been notable.

Over the last several years, the governments of the United States, Europe and China have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on clean-energy research and deployment. And despite some high-profile flops, like ethanol and Solyndra, the investments seem to be succeeding more than they are failing.

 

Keep reading: N.Y. Times - There’s Still Hope for the Planet

 

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World scientists – we can’t raise the temperature by more than two degrees Celsius

The official position of planet Earth at the moment is that we can’t raise the temperature more than two degrees Celsius.

Some context: So far, we’ve raised the average temperature of the planet just under 0.8 degrees Celsius, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. (A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the atmosphere over the oceans is a shocking five percent wetter, loading the dice for devastating floods.)

Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees.

We’re not getting any free lunch from the world’s economies, either. With only a single year’s lull in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, we’ve continued to pour record amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, year after year. In late May, the International Energy Agency published its latest figures – CO2 emissions last year rose to 31.6 gigatons, up 3.2 percent from the year before.

  • America had a warm winter and converted more coal-fired power plants to natural gas, so its emissions fell slightly
  • China kept booming, so its carbon output (which recently surpassed the U.S.) rose 9.3 percent
  • Japanese shut down their fleet of nukes post-Fukushima, so their emissions edged up 2.4 percent.

 

Keep reading: Rolling Stone - Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

 

 

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