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