It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here: ‘China Starts Televising The Sunrise On Giant TV Screens Because Beijing Is So Clouded In Smog’
From The Daily Mail:

The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city’s natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises.

The futuristic screens installed in the Chinese capital usually advertize tourist destinations, but as the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous smog hit - residents donned air masks and left their homes to watch the only place where the sun would hail over the horizon that morning.
…

Serious air pollution plagues most major Chinese cities, where environmental protection has been long sacrificed for the sake of economic development. 

Coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution. In recent years, China has beefed up regulations and pledged financial resources to fight pollution.


Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:
China to boost renewable energy to curb air pollution, CCTV says (Bloomberg) 
How West’s throwaway culture destroys basic freedoms in China (The Guardian) 

It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here: ‘China Starts Televising The Sunrise On Giant TV Screens Because Beijing Is So Clouded In Smog’

From The Daily Mail:

The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city’s natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises.

The futuristic screens installed in the Chinese capital usually advertize tourist destinations, but as the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous smog hit - residents donned air masks and left their homes to watch the only place where the sun would hail over the horizon that morning.

Serious air pollution plagues most major Chinese cities, where environmental protection has been long sacrificed for the sake of economic development. 

Coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution. In recent years, China has beefed up regulations and pledged financial resources to fight pollution.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

It appears that the world’s second-largest economy and biggest climate offender is on the verge of an energy shift…

Source: China’s Green Revolution Arrives, Spiegel Online

From Xinhaunet:

China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF).


China is among the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas and has set goals for cutting emissions. The government has vowed to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output, by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 in comparison to 2005 levels.


Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

• ‘China is getting serious about taming coal’ (Grist)


From Reuters:

The world’s urban areas will more than double in size by 2030, presenting an opportunity to build greener and healthier cities, a U.N. study showed on Monday. Simple planning measures such as more parks, trees or roof gardens could make cities less polluted and help protect plants and animals, especially in emerging nations led by China and India where city growth will be fastest, it said.

“Rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people’s health and well-being,” wrote Thomas Elmqvist of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, scientific editor of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook.

The world’s urban population is expected to surge from just over 3.5 billion now to 4.9 billion by 2030, according to the assessment by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. At the same time, the area to be covered by cities will expand by 150 percent, it said.

“Most of this growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in megacities,” according to the report, issued to coincide with a U.N. meeting on biodiversity in Hyderabad, India. More green spaces in cities can filter dust and pollution and soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Some studies have shown that the presence of trees can help reduce asthma and allergies for children living nearby, it said. And the study said that cities were also home to a wide range of animals and plants.

Check out the rest of the article here.

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(Photo: The High Line)

Connect the Dots: Lester Brown on ‘Why Food Is The New Oil And Land The New Gold’

From CNBC:

The United Nations food agency reports that food prices are rising again, reaching 6-month highs and nearing levels not since 2008. Higher prices then spurred food riots in the Middle East and North Africa, which fueled the Arab Spring.

There’s no sign of widespread food riots now but eventually there could be, says Lester Brown, president and founder of the Earth Policy Institute and author of the new book "Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity."

"The term ‘food unrest’ will become part of our daily vocabulary," Brown tells The Daily Ticker.

It reflects the imbalance between the supply of food and demand for food globally.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

In the last five years, China has built 20,000 miles of expressways, finishing the construction of 12 national highways a whopping 13 years ahead of schedule and at a pace four times faster than the United States built its interstate highway system. Over the last decade, Shanghai alone has built some 1,500 miles of road, the equivalent of three Manhattans. China’s urban population is projected to grow by 350 million people by 2020, effectively adding today’s entire U.S. population to its cities in less than a decade. China has already passed the United States as the world’s largest car market, and by 2025, the country will need to pave up to an estimated 5 billion square meters of road just to keep moving.

China’s love affair with the car has blossomed into a torrid romance. In April, nearly a million people poured into the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition to coo over the latest Audis, BMWs, and Toyotas. But China is in danger of making the same mistakes the United States made on its way to superpower status — mistakes that have left Americans reliant on foreign oil from unstable parts of the world, staggering under the cost of unhealthy patterns of living, and struggling to overcome the urban legacy of decades of inner-city decay.

The choices China makes in the years ahead will have an immense impact not only on the long-term viability, livability, and energy efficiency of its cities, but also on the health of the entire planet. Unfortunately, much of what China is building is based on outdated Western planning ideas that put its cars at the center of urban life, rather than its people. And the bill will be paid in the form of larger waistlines, reduced quality of life, and choking pollution and congestion.

The first three paragraphs of Peter Calthorpe’s recent article for Foreign Policy magazine, 'Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction'. Calthorpe is a renowned San Francisco based urban planner and architect and a founding member of the Congress of New Urbanism. You can check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo source: Inhabitat)

It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here: Some Good News, For A Change

In a week where Arctic ice has reached a new low and food prices have spiked due to severe droughts in Europe and the United States it feels strange to think that progress is being made in the fight against global climate change. However, over the last couple of weeks four big initiatives have been announced that have potential to make a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint.

Last week, China announced it will spend some $372 billion on clean energy, energy efficiency, and reducing its use of the dirtiest of fossil fuels: coal. Its announcement also made clear that:

Seven Chinese cities and provinces will launch CO2 emissions trading schemes over the next two years ahead of a national scheme later in the decade. (Reuters)

The country is currently the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.

On Tuesday, Australia and the European Union announced a partnership to create the world’s largest carbon market, which will begin trading by 2015. Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins encouragingly described the move in an interview:

Given the relatively primitive state of climate change policy around the world, especially considering the scope of the problem, this is a very significant step forward. (Atlantic Cities)

For those keeping score at home, when California’s carbon trading system opens in November it will be the world’s second largest.

Finally, this week the United States stepped up and delivered a big one-two punch:

President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Thursday that would increase the number of cogeneration plants in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2020, a move that would boost U.S. industrial energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions by 150 million tons per year. 
Thursday’s executive order came just two days after the White House finalized a rule - developed with U.S. automakers - that would double fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA said the car efficiency standards will be the most effective domestic policy in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions, cutting as much as 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025.” (Reuters)
Canada has indicated it will copy Obama’s fuel efficiency rules.
Together these initiatives are significant because they include the countries with the largest carbon footprints, which must be in leadership roles if we are to get a handle on this predicament. We definitely have a long, long way to go and have some epic challenges before us. But, more and more people seem to be waking up, learning about where we are at, talking with others about it, and then making changes. Positive changes. 
In essence, what I’m trying to get across is that it’s important to celebrate the positives. Dwelling on the bad news about our climate and the health of our planet and society can be counterproductive and self-defeating. Instead of feeling stuck, now more than ever I think we need to be awake and aware. Ready to adapt to what’s already in the pipe while finding new, old, and otherwise ways of remaking our homes, our food, our transportation, our cities, our economies, our institutions, and even our thinking that allow us to use energy, ecosystems, and other resources more creatively and wisely over the long term. As Charles Darwin is quoted, but apparently misattributed as saying,
"It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
Those are my two bits for now. Have a good long weekend!
(Photo source: Clean Technica)

From Reuters:

China will plough $372 billion into energy conservation projects and anti-pollution measures over the next three-and-a-half years, part of a drive to cut energy consumption by 300 million tonnes of standard coal, the country’s cabinet said Tuesday.

The central government’s drive to reduce China’s insatiable appetite for fossil fuels is aimed at improving the country’s future energy security, and is a central plank of its policy to slow down growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, plans to cut its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Seven Chinese cities and provinces will launch CO2 emissions trading schemes over the next two years ahead of a national scheme later in the decade, as China seeks to move away from traditional command-and-control measures to combat spiraling carbon emissions.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

(Photo source: Reve)

From USA Today:

China is building more eco-cities designed to be low-carbon and energy-saving than any other country, according to a survey by the University of Westminster in London. The USA ranked second.

Check out the rest of the article here.

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