Sunday, December 15, 2013

Russian History of Pollution

The case study uploaded by American University describes in detail the background of Russian and Soviet economic policy and how it lead to incredibly large amounts of air pollution today. If you know little about Russian economic policy or air pollution and you want to learn more, this reading is for you!

The case study first goes into the state's economic policy. The study starts by discussing early Soviet Union economic policy. The fact the Soviets were far behind the entire world (both economically and technologically), required politicians to put forth policies for rapid economic expansion, no matter the consequences to the environment. This background is a major factor for Russian environmental problems today.

To read the case study go here

Living with pollution

The video made by VICE is meant to examine Linfen, China--the world's most polluted city (according to the World Bank, Forbes, CNN and even some Chinese news sources). The video showed what the city looks like and how it got to the point of being the world's most polluted city. While the narrator is at times comical in order to lighten the subject, what is discussed is terrifying to hear. The VICE representative went and interviewed doctors, factory owners, business owners and Communist Party members. While they all unanimously said that the problem is horrific, none of them seemed to mind it too much. They all said that there was nothing to do about it. The only person who stood up was China's Green Peace activist who in a very coherent manner went through all of the issues.

While the purpose  of the video was to demonstrate the horrors of air pollution, it also had a different effect. Through interviewing people of all occupations and ages, the video showed how people live in the same way as anywhere else. They all go to school, attend work, swim in rivers, walk around without face masks. This must have surprised the narrator and he must have included this aspect of daily life into the video to show the people acceptance/ignorance of the issue.

To view the video go here for part one and here for part two.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

London Smog: What can other nations learn from London?

The infamous London Smog existed since the time the English started using coal. Ever since, the city of London became know for people not being able to see objects even a few feet away from them during the day. The article published by the Encyclopedia of Earth describes the phenomenon in great detail.

The city remained in its dark state for hundreds of years until the winter of 1952 when around twelve thousand people died because of the smog. Starting then, the government decided that the smog issue must be dealt with. Using decisive action and no hesitation, the government was able to eliminate the smog from the air in a matter of a few years. This type of action against air pollution could really be used in many developing Asian countries.

To view the article click here

Stop the deforestation of the Amazon!

Deforestation has been an enormous issue in South American countries for an incredibly long period of time now. The deforestation of the Amazon often makes the news worldwide. Both international tension, as well as Brazilian domestic action, have been able to decrease the land deforested annually by half over the last ten years (from around 40 sq km per year to around 20 per year).

The BBC released an article discussing the issue and what actions are being taken to decrease deforestation. Not only describing everything reviewed above, the article describes what actions are being done both to increase and decrease deforestation. According to the article, while many government initiatives are currently implemented to stop the issue, there is a strong opposition to policies implemented to keep forests alive because agriculture accounts for five percent of the country's economy. Even though there has been a steady decreasing rate of deforestation, it remains to be seen whether, or not the issue gets stopped entirely.

To read the article click here   

Monday, December 2, 2013

Money or Clean Water?

"The Global Oyster" published an informative article along with an Al-Jazeera news clip concerning gold mining in a certain area of Chile. Both the article and the news clip are incredibly informative and give the viewers a first-hand look on events going on in Latin America regarding locals standing up against corporations.

The main issue that article and news clip are discussing is water pollution done by a certain gold mining operation in a Chilean mountainous region. The locals there decided that they do not want gold mining machinery polluting their water supplies. Because of this, the government did manage to stop the gold miners' operations for a period of time, while the gold mining corporation installs technology that will have a less harmful effect. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that the technology will work and whether or not the corporation will be stopped again if pollution restarts.

This article really shows how a native population can have influence (with the help of Al-Jazeera) over massive corporations based in other continents. Even though the issue is nowhere near resolved, there is some hope nevertheless.

To read more click here

From the Meiji Restoration to the Present

Have you ever wondered about Japan's environmental history? Contrary to popular belief, Japan has only recently began to strongly enforce anti-pollution laws. The article published by the Aozora Foundation goes into relative depth examining the nation's environmental history beginning with the Meiji Restoration.

Contrary to the government's statement of solving most of the air pollution based problems back in the 1960s, the article reveals that Japan only really (beginning in the 90s) started solving its air pollution problems.While this detail may not seem too relevant, we must also keep in mind that Japan has offered to assist China, its environmentally damaged neighbor, in cleaning up the air in the city skies. From this, one question arises (if China even agrees to receive aid and advise). Can Japan even have the slightest impact on China's environment?

To learn more click here

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Will Two Enemies Unite?

An article published by CNN describes how Japan can assist in solving China's air pollution problem. At first, it seemed odd to me that Japan was willing to help China, seeing that tension between the two countries is still somewhat high, but the reason was exposed in the article. The simple truth is that the Chinese industry's pollution goes straight to Japan and now the island has air pollution problems of its own. The Japanese have many factories on the Chinese mainland that are incredibly clean in what they emit because the island nation had a major air pollution problem of its own in the sixties and seventies that they managed to solve. The Chinese have had some advisers from Tokyo come to Beijing and hear their advise, but whether or not the Chinese will go through with it will be an interesting story to follow.

What happens next in this area will be interesting to observe, seeing what the history between the two giants has been like.

To read the article click here

China's Road to a Green Future

An article published by (to view click here) focuses on legislature in China and how it influences carbon emissions in the developing giant that is China. The article also goes into details on the current state of managing carbon emissions and what the nation's future plans are.

Primarily the article describes a few pilot programs that will allow the nation to gradually decrease and control the amount of carbon dioxide released by manufacturing plants. Because the program is only an experiment, it is only put in place in a handful of second tier (medium sized) cities. The article states that even though the pilot program may prove to be effective for most manufacturing plants, the major steel and aluminium plants may be a larger challenge.

In sum, the article claims that it is a good thing that China has started working on controlling carbon dioxide, however the pilot program will not begin having an impact on the environment until 2025, the predicted year the program will be implemented nationwide.

Monday, November 11, 2013

India: If breathing is important to you, then watch out!

If I were to say the word "India," what would you think of? Perhaps you would think of it as a historically rich nation, or a modern, rapidly developing nation with the second highest population in the world. Currently, because India is rapidly industrializing, the nation has a multitude of environmental problems, one of which is poor air being so bad, that it is a leading cause of cancer. In the last five years the WHO set up many tests to determine just how bad the pollution was major cities in India. The results were worrying to say the least.
The WHO determined that 20% of all lung cancer was caused by the air pollution. Currently while scientists insist on developing legal systems for decreasing the amount of pollutants released from the factories, the government does not seem to be taking a concrete stance on the issue.

To read the article click here

The Oil Giant's History

The site has a particularly informative article on Russian oil. The article first describes the history of oil extraction in the country starting in the late 1960s. After showing a few graphs, tables and maps, the author goes into describing how the process of oil extraction is becoming more and more difficult for the Russian Federation.
What I liked about the site is the amount of specifics, especially in the current day problems with oil in the country. The author had a lot to say and had many graphs to support his points.

To read the article click here

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What will the future be like?

Published by, this article analyzes how different countries across the globe would survive in a post-oil world. The author selects twenty countries of different stages of development, located in different regions of the world, and takes statistics of the amount of arable land, electricity usage, fossil fuel usage, as well as renewable resource usage in the given countries. In addition to the different statistics, the author also evaluates the governments of the individual countries and how they would handle a world with a lack of oil.
At the end of the article, there is a table where the author gives every country a number of points based on information from the previous tables. The country with the highest number of points is the country that ends up handling "peak oil" the best.
Even though every aspect of the article is highly hypothetical and the structure is almost like that of a board game, it does have an interesting approach to the issue and depicts the findings in a manner that is clear and easy to understand.

To read the article, go here

France turns a blind eye to a significant issue

A call  for the French presidential candidates to act on the issue of peak oil went seemingly unnoticed by the general public of France. Signing the letter were environmentalists, economists and oil consultants alike begging that the French presidential candidates acknowledge the issue, however no definite steps were taken yet by the French government.
The letter describes the current status oil in the world as finite. This means that the process of extraction will at first grow, and then quickly fall. As a result, these experts believe that the world will be at a lack of oil in the very near future. They ask that their government look further into the issue because they claim that the lack of oil will bring tremendous negative changes to all aspects of life as we know it. These people are describing the effect that the lack of oil will have plainly and directly in a constructive manner. If you are unfamiliar with the peak oil phenomenon, or you simply want to read a well written  letter depicting the issue, I would recommend reading it.

The article can be found here

Monday, October 28, 2013

Red or Black: the economic consequences of the green tax

The United Kingdom's "green tax" is discussed in a question and answer session conducted by the BBC with the news agency's economic analyst Lewis Goodall. In the Q&A session, Goodall discusses the economic implications of the relatively recent new tax.
A key point that Goodall brings up is that the tax was set fourth in order to encourage the use of environmentally friendly energy sources. This shows that the English government is attempting to reduce dependency on sources of energy that destroy the environment.
The other side of the argument, the one that the interviewee takes, is that there are severe economic consequences to the tax. Goodall states that even though the taxes may reduce environmental damage and money spent on fossil fuels will virtually nonexistent in the future, the amount of money spent on electricity will be significantly higher and that will bring up the total energy bill. As a result, businesses and people alike will consume less energy which may have even more drastic effect on the economic growth in the country.

To read more about the issue click here

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Problems with solving problems

China has been known to disregard all accusations of destroying their environment, but will they be changing once they finally realize that they are destroying themselves in the process of modernization? Tom Whipple from thinks they will in his article entitled: "The Peak Oil Crisis: China at a Turning Point." The article states that the country cannot keep growing (economically) at the percentage that they are growing at and not destroy their own environment and themselves. Whipple states that the Chinese government is slowly beginning to recognize the presence of an enormous problem, but will most likely not be able to take any actions against it.
Another issue that the author brings up is that of "shadow banking" in China. Shadow banking is when officials create new projects, the exact funds for which are hidden away from anyone to see. This type of corruption in China has resulted in many losses of money that could have been spent otherwise. Not only that, but even if the Chinese government would have wanted to take a strong stance against polluting their own environment, their efforts would be significantly weaker than if they tried to handle the problem without shadow banking.

To view the article click here