Polluting Pariah or Green Superpower?

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China (photo credit – Fiona Johnston)

In view of various unbelievably long and incoherent comments made by someone called jdouglashuahin on Climate Denial Crock of the Week (this and this being just the tips of a couple of very large icebergs), I am going to devote the whole of this week to the subject of China. My Dad was born in China and, despite being locked up in Japanese internment camps for most of WW2, I think one of the most enjoyable trips in his final years was unquestionably that he made to China when he was nearly 80. Sadly, I have never been; nor am I now ever likely to visit it (far too self-indulgent even if I had a job and/or the money). However, having been brought-up in the UK but taught to use chopsticks almost before I could control a knife and fork properly, I have always taken a keen interest in chinese food, culture and people. I was therefore delighted, last year, to find that one of the optional modules for my MA was Environmental Policy and Practice in China and India. I did not hesitate. [N.B. People like John Douglas Swallow should note the use of italics here to identify this as the name of a course module; not an indication that I ever travelled to China] Therefore, in the remaining four days of this week, I will post the 5000-word essay I wrote on the subject of the water resources (i.e. surface water and groundwater) in the Yellow River Basin of Northern China. The source of the Yellow River is in the Tibetan Plateau and as such this seventh-longest river in the world passes through just about every climatic zone the planet has to offer; is regarded as the birthplace of Chinese civilisation; and is only now surpassed by the Yangtze River in terms of its industrial importance to China. However, by way of setting the scene for what is to come, I would recommend that people read (or if necessary re-read) a brief item I posted about a special report presented by Justin Rowlatt (first broadcast on the BBC News Channel about a year ago) between Christmas and New Year last year. Justin Rowlatt is an experienced BBC journalist who first came to my attention when he agreed to allow his entire family to be used in a year-long experiment to see how small a carbon footprint they could have (by selling the family car etc). Building on the success of this experiment, his alter-ego “Ethical Man” embarked on a trip across the USA to explore just how easy (or hard) it would be to roll-out low-carbon lifestyles in a car-obsessed, consumption-oriented country. As well as producing a series of programmes; he wrote about his experiences in a blog. So it was that he came to be in China last year to investigate just how worried the Chinese are about climate change; just how much they are doing to minimise the inevitable impact of such a populous – and rapidly-developing country (by investing heavily in renewable energy technology); and the logistical limitations that growth imposes (including the fact that China is likely to continue burning coal for several decades). Unfortunately, the BBC’s Our World production entitled ‘China’s Green Revolution’ does not appear to be on You Tube, but there are numerous other programmes and/or news items that are, which cover similar territory. For example, here is a brief item produced by the World Bank: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTLxeUBP9OI So, China may well be intent on an entirely selfish programme of seeking to maximise the economic benefit it can acrue for itself by selling renewable energy technology to the rest of the world but, this is not the whole story. Therefore, I hope you will stay with me this week as I look in detail at the challenges China faces in seeking to tackle its own pollution and feed and water its own population: These are all problems that climate change is only going to make harder to solve, which is why the Communist Party of China is so worried about climate change (even if the Tea Party is not).

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About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Consumerism, Economics, Environment, Sustainable development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Polluting Pariah or Green Superpower?

  1. jdouglashuahin says:

    Rick: This is John D. Swallow and I currently live in Hua Hin, Thailand. The fact that you were inspired by my several post to Climate Denial Crock of the Week to put together your cut and paste report on China is interesting and to know that you disagree with what I presented is also rewarding in its own right because it means that I am not one of the delusional individuals that actually believes the climate of the earth is influenced by anthropogenic inputs, it never was in the 4.5 billion years of the earth’s past and it is not now happening. I watched your video and it tells one very little about China and their concern for OUR environment. Please recall the challenge that I presented you with when I tried to get you to use some logic and understand that the sun controls the climate and it always has and always will. Rick, every lab experiment every done trying to correlate “warming” with CO2 has failed! If you can show me some empirical test results I would be glad to look at them (NOTE: not computer models or explanations – test results). Everyone is well aware of IR radiation on CO2 and that CO2 infused atmospheres cool slower but to date there has not been one reproducible experiment that links CO2 to warming in the atmosphere – a rather inconvenient fact wouldn’t you say? It is not strange that you did not mention this FACT with your propaganda about China and their green energy. “China is building at least one new coal-fired power plant every week and has a seemingly limitless appetite for coal. The Powder River Basin in southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming has a seemingly limitless supply. There is increasing interest linking this supply with Asian demand through west coast coal terminals.” http://www.coaltrainfacts.org/key-facts You really gave yourself away with this remark: “These are all problems that climate change is only going to make harder to solve, which is why the Communist Party of China is so worried about climate change (even if the Tea Party is not).” If you have spent even a short amount of time in China, you know what an abysmal environmental record that they have and this is consistent with being a communist controlled country, as was the USSR, who also cared not one damn thing about the environment as I noticed when I went by train from Saint Petersburg to Ullan Battar, Mongolia. Now you say they are “so worried about climate change” when, being a totalitarian form of government, they have only one view point, tolerate no opposition; therefore the question: Why do they just “worry” about this issue and not do something about it? Then for you to bring in the Tea Party seems very strange because in the United States the environment is clean; so, what does the Tea Party have to do with China and their lack of caring about their environment?

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Your attempt to distract attention from the weakness of your own position by going on a fishing trip around my blog for the ad hominem attacks of others is truly shameful. If you do anything like that again here, your ability to contribute will be very short-lived indeed. Also, I would respectfully ask you to try and be brief and, preferably, not post arguments that have been previously debunked elsewhere (although I suspect this will be impossible for you because there are none). Perhaps I shall just save time by referring you to Skeptical Science‘s Arguments page (and thus confirm your suspicions that I do not think it a “propaganda website par exellence”). Although you ask for it, there is little point me alluding to the palaeoclimatic evidence on which climate science is based because any evidence there is must, to your warped mind, be wrong because you have already decided what the truth is. That is not scepticism, it is ideological prejudice. I have not denied the fact that China will continue burning coal for decades. This is unavoidable given the size of its population and rate of development. This fact makes it even more important that those of us who have the luxury of a choice do everything we can to de-carbonise our economies as quickly as possible (rather than denying that carbon is the problem). Therefore, why do you keep using the word “propaganda”? I am not trying to defend the Chinese Government: If anything, I am highlighting the shallowness of its environmental commitments; which are driven solely by its concern for its own survival. The comparison with the Tea Party is entirely justified because they are still, like you, trying to deny the nature of reality. More than that, they want to do away with all the effective environmental regulation the USA has; and turn the clock back to the days when the USA was more like China. What is the sense in that? You are so keen to assign me to your infantile Watermelon conspiracy, you have overlooked one thing – reality. I am not a socialist. I am more like Geology Professor Barry Bickmore (although I am not a Mormon). For his explanation of his journey from “scepticism” to reality, see my How to avoid the truth about climate change post on 9 February 2012. As I suspect I am already wasting my time with you, future replies from me will not be so lengthy. Please do not waste too much of your own time either. Life is too short; and the time left for action to avoid ecological catastrophe is probably even less. Remember: Denial is not a river in Egypt.

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      • jdouglashuahin says:

        Rick: I wonder if you ever considered that had you been honest with what you stated in your preface to your introduction to your “An open letter to Richard Lindzen” by stating this: “I blew my chance to ask a question. However, Prof. Lindzen kindly invited me to email them to him instead.”? Then I assume so much of the comment section would not have dealt with that obvious untrue statement. It appears that you did not expect others that were there to respectfully listen to Dr. Lindzen and learn from him to call you out on your assertion that you were not allowed to ask a question. It is amazing that, given the above false statement, you would be cheeky enough to ask the good Dr. this: “Therefore, although I am not questioning whether you believe what you say to be true (as that would be to question your integrity and/or intellectual honesty); I am bound to ask – where is the actual evidence for this?” From your warning to me to “behave” and I assume that means to not disagree with you, I offer up another quote: “The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement” — Karl Popper Please Rick, take the time to answer my challenge about an experiment showing that CO2 drives the earth’s climate.

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      • Rick Altman says:

        I must say I find your blatant disregard for simple instructions hard to swallow, John. Please consider this to be a final warning regarding off-topic content (i.e. you continuing to attack me rather than the science on which concern regarding ongoing anthropogenic climate disruption is based). However, for the record, as I have now stated many times (both on my blog and that of Judith Curry) I was only prevented from asking a question because I tried to correct misinformation put forward by Lindzen first. As with many others it seems, you prefer to indulge in pedantic debate over this non-issue rather than address any of the many ways in which Lindzen’s presentation was highly misleading and – most essentially of all – you refuse to acknowledge that your dismissal of the scientific consensus is entirely predicated upon the existence of a scientific and political conspiracy of unprecedented proportions. If you mention this subject again within this thread your comments will be deleted. As for your request for evidence that CO2 drives the Earth’s climate, you appear yet again to have failed to grasp the fact that I have already acknowledged that it has not always done so. In my previous response to you here I provided a link to a detailed explanation of this. Nevertheless, within the last 2 billion years of Earth history, there is evidence for occasions when CO2 has driven temperature change: It it were not for the build-up of volcanic CO2 in the atmosphere the planet might never have emerged from Snowball Earth; and if it were not for the release of CO2 from the subduction of limestone seabed and the weathering of the Himalayas the Earth would not have got so hot as it did in the Palaeocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). As for experimental evidence that it can and does drive temperature change? Just look around you! As all decent climate scientists acknowledge, CO2 does not account for all of the change we are seeing but, you cannot account for the vast majority of that change unless you accept that CO2 is having the greatest effect of all. We are all in the test-tube and this experiment is non-reversible in any timescale meaningful to our fleeting existence.

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  2. Pingback: The Yellow River basin in China – Part 1 « Anthropocene Reality

    • jdouglashuahin says:

      The presents of facts seem to be what you mainly lack, Rick; and, given the chance, I shall supply them for you. You do seem to acknowledge that there has never been a verifiable test/experiment done to show that the presents of CO2, at its present quantities in earth’s atmosphere, has anything to do with the earth’s climate. How can that be Rick when you and others want to assign CO2 the ability to cause earth destroying climate change? I supplied you with links regarding actual experiments that Henrik Svensmark and Jasper Kirkby of CERN and his 62 co-authors, from 17 institutes in Europe and the USA had conducted that demonstrated cosmic rays, and the sun’s activity have a tremendous bearing on cloud formation and therefor the earth’s climate since the earth at any one time is covered by up to 70% cloud cover. One must wonder that if you alarmist are members of some elitists group and therefore so much smarter and better able to understand something as complex as the earth’s climate, why none of you could put together an experiment to prove your hypotheses that CO2 is largely responsible for what the earth’s climate does. One can only wonder why you can not come to terms with the fact that H2O, at .4% of the atmosphere, is responsible for almost 95% of the green house effect. One can actually see and feel H2O in the atmosphere, unlike your dreaded CO2. “Therefore, there will never be another Ice Age unless or until humans go extinct. Meanwhile, inertia in the climate system means we are now headed for 450ppm or more; and the last time CO2 was that high, it was on average 4 to 6 Celsius warmer. Add to that all the positive feedback mechanisms now kicking-in, and you have the spectre of the runaway enhanced greenhouse effect that we now face.” It appears that no one else shares that flawed theory with you and why don’t you recall how high the CO2 concentrations were during the late Paleocene and earliest Eocene periods, or could it be that you never knew? “Knowledge of the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations throughout the Earth’s history is important for a reconstruction of the links between climate and radiative forcing of the Earth’s surface temperatures. Although atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the early Cenozoic era (about 60 Myr ago) are widely believed to have been higher than at present, there is disagreement regarding the exact carbon dioxide levels, the timing of the decline and the mechanisms that are most important for the control of CO2 concentrations over geological timescales. Here we use the boron-isotope ratios of ancient planktonic foraminifer shells to estimate the pH of surface-layer sea water throughout the past 60 million years, which can be used to reconstruct atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We estimate CO2 concentrations of more than 2,000 p.p.m. for the late Palaeocene and earliest Eocene periods (from about 60 to 52 Myr ago), and find an erratic decline between 55 and 40 Myr ago that may have been caused by reduced CO2 outgassing from ocean ridges, volcanoes and metamorphic belts and increased carbon burial. Since the early Miocene (about 24 Myr ago), atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to have remained below 500 p.p.m. and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 Myr ago.” http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v406/n6797/abs/406695a0.html#top I don’t think you ever wondered with amazement at how SCIENTEST took Einstein’s equation E=mc2, that was a theory, and with the guidance of Edward Teller, who did not believe in agw, and Robert Oppenheimer, among many others, descovered the secrets of the atom and unleashed its awesome power. Now we have people wanting to cripple the world by trying to deny society the use of fossil fuels that have brought humanity to a stage of advancement and development that only a few years ago could not have even been dreamed of and all because of a flawed hypothesis that they can’t even begin to test or prove due to experimentation. Could this be why there are no “Alarmist” that have ever won a Nobel Prize for science? The Peace Prize that Gore, who has no scientific background at all and others shared in that should have gone to Irena Sendler, who has since died. She had helped to save thousands of Jewish children from certain death during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw during WWII, and obviously risked her own life to do so & was beaten severely by the Gestapo but didn’t give up any secrets. You wonder what this has to do with anything and it is this, she had been considered for the Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore and his cronies when they won said prize. I know that Dr. Robert B. Laughlin has a much better understanding of this topic than you could ever hope to acquire from wherever you get your delusional information and he has actually won a coveted Nobel Prize for physics in 1998. “Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself — Climate is beyond our power to control…Earth doesn’t care about governments or their legislation. You can’t find much actual global warming in present-day weather observations. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone’s permission or explaining itself.” — Nobel Prize-Winning Stanford University Physicist Dr. Robert B. Laughlin, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1998, and was formerly a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/01/05/the-2011-climate-b-s-of-the-year-awards/ Isn’t it something that we have Gore saying that those that do not believe in AGW or what ever you call it, are “flat earthers” and that think that the moon landing was staged. Some of these folks below actually WALKED on the moon.”Dr. Schmitt logged 301 hours and 51 minutes in space — of which 22 hours and 4 minutes were spent in extravehicular activity on the lunar surface.” ” Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of “incontrovertible” evidence. Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204301404577171531838421366.html This below is in answer to your scientific consensus nonsense: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Kyoto Misses its Targets — Hits the Poor Instead. Economic and scientific studies indicate that Kyoto will harm economies worldwide and only minimally – if at all – reduce global warming. More than 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners, signed the Heidelberg Appeal warning industrialized nations that no compelling scientific evidence exists to justify mandatory cuts in greenhouse emissions. http://www.akdart.com/warming2.html “Svensmark: Evidence continues to build that the Sun drives climate, not CO2″ http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/svensmark-evidence-continues-to-build.html More sunspots, less cosmic rays, warmer earth. During the last 50 years or so, there have been record numbers of sunspots, low cosmic ray fluxes and somewhat higher temperatures. http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110824/full/news.2011.504.html Have a nice day.

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      • Rick Altman says:

        If you are right then the conspiracy is real and unprecedented: Not only were the CIA responsible for the death of Marilyn Monroe; JFK assassinated because he was a closet Communist; the Moon Landings faked, Princess Diana killed because she was going to have Dodi Al Fayed’s baby, and 9/11 an inside job… Now we know climate change is not being caused by human activity….? It would be nice to be able to think all of these things; I would be able to sleep much easier in my bed… although I would be disappointed to think we never actually made it to the Moon… However, back in the real world, a 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 in 200 years cannot be explained by solar cyles operating on timescales of either 1500 years or 10 years. No-one denies that the Sun and Volcanoes have an effect but, to repeat, the only way you can explain everything that has happened is to include all possible causes and – even then – CO2 is the dominant factor. http://www.skepticalscience.com/cern-cloud-proves-cosmic-rays-causing-global-warming.htm Please don’t repeat any of this (off-topic) garbage here again. It will not appear. In any event, please try and curb the extent to which you appear to be intoxicated with the exuberance of your own verbosity.

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  3. jdouglashuahin says:

    My, what a great and informative reply, Rick. Where, besides the meaningless BS about who knows what [pretending not to understand why I listed other well known conspiracy theories does not change history or reality] you direct me to… [Snipped – If you have concerns about the content of Skpetical Science post your comments in response to the relevant articles on their site.] I assume that you do not think that clouds have anything to do with the earth’s climate… [Snipped – Repetition of fallacious argument despite my previous acknowledgement that CO2 is not the only thing affecting our climate.] [Snipped – Off topic: The subject of this post is China.] I offer what follows as a reply to your Skeptical Science, using the word science loosely, and there is no repeat of anything here and don’t you know what the topic is, Rick? [To repeat, it is China (and Skeptical Science is not my website).] [Snipped – Citation of contrarian website describing the greenhouse effect as a fictitious mechanism violating basic principles of thermodynamics that is nevertheless supported by “global climatologists”; implying they are either stupid or wilfully deceitful (i.e. conspiracy theory).] http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/0707.1161 Have another nice day, Rick. It is not strange that anything that you do not understand or agree with is (off-topic) garbage; and if it does not appear it is because… [the subject of this post is China and you were repeating yourself.]

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  4. jdouglashuahin says:

    Rick; Are you actually so delusional as to now believe that Cornell University would stand behind a site that puts forth false information? They are termed to be contrarian by you because they are able to use logic and reasoning to deal with an issue and that is something that you demonstrate is a foreign concept. Have a nice delusional, dishonest day, Rick because you will never understand the short quote attributed to Popper that I presented you with earlier: “The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement” — Karl Popper As the sainted Mencken once quipped, “I love liberty and I hate fraud.” See you around: J Doug

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    • Rick Altman says:

      I did not accuse anyone of saying things they know to be false (that is more your style). I explained my use of the term “contrarian”; because the arguments presented therein (as in Lindzen’s presentation in London) dismiss the views of the vast majority of relevantly-qualified active researchers with a track record of peer-reviewed publications as stupid, deceitful or merely mistaken. As Barry Bickmore says, when you have to rely on the opinions of dog astrologers and all kinds of irrelevant experts, “you are trying too hard to avoid the truth about climate change”. https://anthropocenereality.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/how-to-avoid-the-truth-about-climate-change/

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      • jdouglashuahin says:

        Rick, please take the time to show me what I have presented to you that is not true, either here on your blog or what ever you call it that no one bothers to go to let alone issue comments regarding, or the “Crock” blog where we met. [For one thing you accused me of repeatedly being dishonest when, unless a victim of your own cherry-picking, you must have known that what you were saying was not true – ML] You can no more prove that than you can show me a verifiable, objective experiment that shows that CO2 drives the earth’s climate at present or even in the past. You did not seem to even be able to understand the examples that I presented you about tangible examples of what one part per million is , such as 1 inch in a total of 16 miles or 1 min. in a total of two years worth of min. Have a nice day. Get lots of rest and avoid too much sun, it could be bad for you. JDS

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      • Rick Altman says:

        Yet again, JDS, you do not deny that your position requires the existence of a massive scientific and political conspiracy to foist environmental alarmism upon an ignorant world. On the contrary, you are just repeating yourself. So, perhaps for the last time, I will do so as well… It is not the 0.04% of the atmosphere that is important – it is the 40% increase in the last 200 years that is significant. I am afraid that your repetition of such a pathetic and irrelevant argument is in severe in danger of making you look even more like the scientifically and statistically illiterate fool I for one already think you are but, hey, that is merely my opinion… Since you are so fond of quotations, here is one for you too: “It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in the palm of your hand. You must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world’s most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published in the foremost scientific journals. “George Monbiot (10 May 2005)

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  5. Richard Rowlatt, Ulverston, U.K.y says:

    Dialogue of the deaf! Rick, why do you waste your time with this flat-earther? You can’t educate the un- educatable. Richard Rowlatt.

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