China orders nationwide emission cuts by 2015

Dec 20, 2011
A woman wears a mask as she rides a bicycle in Beijing, October 2011. China ordered local governments to reduce emissions of "major pollutants" by as much as 10 percent by 2015, amid growing public anxiety over the country's bad air.

China on Tuesday ordered local governments to reduce emissions of "major pollutants" by as much as 10 percent by 2015, amid growing public anxiety over the country's bad air.

Authorities will also start to monitor the smallest and most dangerous , known as PM2.5, in densely populated areas such as Beijing and Tianjin, the government said in a statement on its environmental targets.

"Total emissions of major pollutants should be reduced significantly by 2015," the State Council, or cabinet, said, listing a number of pollutants including sulphur dioxide, but not carbon.

"Urban and rural drinking water supply and environmental security should be protected effectively, water quality should be improved greatly and heavy should be controlled effectively."

China also vowed to "significantly" improve for nuclear energy production and speed up the elimination of "old automobiles and motorcycles" registered before 2005.

The announcement comes amid growing public debate over pollution in China, where more than 30 years of has left the country's air, soil and waterways severely contaminated.

Millions of Chinese went online to vent their anger after thick smog blanketed Beijing earlier this month, raising health fears and causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.

Public angst in the Chinese capital over heavy pollution has been compounded by official data showing air quality is good, or only slightly polluted, when smog is visible and figures published by the US embassy rank it as "very unhealthy".

Chinese authorities currently use a method known as PM10, focusing on larger particles in the air.

But the environment ministry has proposed adopting the system favoured by the US embassy, which measures PM2.5.

Protests over are also increasing. In the latest incident, residents in the southern town of Haimen stormed government buildings on Tuesday to protest against a power plant they say is damaging their health.

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Nanobanano
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
...but not carbon...


Correct, because CO2 cannot be efficiently captured and sequestered in any heat engine, since the process of capturing the exaust reduces the efficiency of the generators.

Even in the most idealistic scenario it is not possible for the Chinese to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 5 years. In fact, they are more likely to increase carbon emissions by about 20% in the next 5 years or so.

Replacing an entire infrastructure with "new and improved" or "alternate" technology would require several decades of focused efforts.
EdMoore
5 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
Why would you assume that CO2 emissions are anywhere near as dangerous as PM-2.5 levels? Oh, by the way, PM-2.5 is the measure of particulate mass smaller than 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter.
Nanobanano
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
EdMoore:

The reason they threw in the "but not Carbon" phrase at the end of the second paragraph is because of Global Warming.

You are correct though, a few PPM worth of CO2 doesn't make any difference as far as human or animal respiration.

The only point I was making is it's not possible to address the CO2 problem without a complete overhaul of technology, and that takes decades.
Pirouette
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
EdMoore is right about the particulate mass smaller than 2.5 microns. THAT is the stuff that lodges in the lungs and causes breathing problems and eventually death for the affected people. The heavily polluted air doesn't only affect those living and working in the cities, but also in the countryside when the prevailing winds push particulates to other locations. The Chinese officials seem to have been complacent all these years until recently regarding the particulates in the air, even though they breathe the same air. But they, too, are most likely afraid to complain about the problem lest they lose their official positions and be persecuted for their opposition. However, the voice of the "peasant" uprising has apparently reached the Communist leaders' ears and now they realize that 'the whole world is watching' and to "save face", they must make promises, curtail and/or mitigate emissions, pass laws, and try to placate the masses before a "Chinese Spring" occurs.
rubberman
5 / 5 (1) Dec 20, 2011
What is ironic is that the US Embassy measures particulate pollution in this way because they know through study where the danger zone is. Why would anyone use a different standard unless they were deliberately trying to fudge the numbers in a way that appears more favorable for them?
Pirouette
2 / 5 (4) Dec 20, 2011
. . .mainly because the Communist Chinese government is deceitful and doesn't want to be governed by any other standards that everyone else uses. They believe themselves (the leaders) to be infallible and when caught red-handed making mistakes, they just bluster a lot and/or threaten their critics. That's a favorite Communist strategy.
GSwift7
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 20, 2011
China is more than 50 years behind Western nations when it comes to environmental health standards. They still use leaded gasoline, and they don't control CFC's, for example. They have a long way to go to catch up, but they are moving more quickly than we were able to, due to the fact that we have already done the work to make solutions available. In 20 years China will be a whole different place than it is today.

One unfortunate barrier for China is that they have a political culture that does not promote honest conformity to regulations such as the ones mentioned above. The local officials will report that they are in compliance, but it's impossible to know if they really are or not because they do not have the infrastructure needed to enforce such regulations adequately. It takes a lot of highly trained people to carry out proper environmental testing and such.
Pirouette
3 / 5 (2) Dec 20, 2011
I think that a good, at least partial solution for China's CO2 and other emissions, especially small particulate matter, would be for a small coterie of doctors and interested observers to be assigned the task of traveling to each country to observe the situation and test the soil, water and air for greenhouse emissions and particulate matter, and report their finding immediately to their headquarters where all the data from each country and major cities can be downloaded to a mainframe so that the world will have a better idea of what's really happening in country's like China, U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.
That's the only way to get true readings. But these doctors and scientists must be credible in their work and not be corruptible with bribes of money or gifts. . .or even threats.
Howhot
1 / 5 (2) Dec 21, 2011
I just read another article about a global warming feed back mechanism appearing in the Arctic for the first time. Apparently mile size methane bubble events are starting to pop through the thinned ice. They have been observed in the Russian Arctic and other Arctic areas and have been predicted as a consequence of global warming. There is still many years of global warming ahead, but with the addition of giant methane bubbles seeping from the Arctic ocean, how quickly will global temperatures rise?

To be honest, by 2025 it will be a no brainer on the need to remove greenhouse gasses from earths atmosphere. It will effect us all.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (6) Dec 21, 2011
For anyone with an IQ over 50, it is a no-brainer now.

Before 2025, you will see the executions starting for the denialists.

Have your list of names ready.

"To be honest, by 2025 it will be a no brainer on the need to remove greenhouse gasses from earths atmosphere. It will effect us all." - howhot
GSwift7
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2011
I think that a good, at least partial solution for China's CO2 and other emissions, especially small particulate matter, would be for a small coterie of doctors and interested observers to be assigned the task of traveling to each country to observe the situation and test the soil, water and air for greenhouse emissions and particulate matter, and report their finding immediately to their headquarters


That would likely be a positive step, but China is NEVER going to agree to that.
GSwift7
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2011
Howhot:

I just read another article about a global warming feed back mechanism appearing in the Arctic for the first time. Apparently mile size methane bubble events are starting to pop through the thinned ice.


You realize that methane seepage isn't a new thing, righ? There is natural petrolium and methane seepage anywhere there is petrolium under the ground. Are you saying that the new developement is that, due to melted ice, the methane is now able to get out from under the ice? I would not argue against that, but that methane would eventually make its way out from under the ice anyway in time. If a hole opens up, it just lets it escape faster. By contrast, if we see the Arctic ice start to recover, it should result in the opposite.

Or are you confused and think they are talking about melting methane cathlates on the ocean floor? That's not happening.

P.S. I wouldn't want VD on MY side.
Pirouette
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2011
I agree. . .there are certain natural processes that are Earth-caused and to which we, as humans, have absolutely NO control over. It is going to happen no matter what we try to do about it. . .and it may be just an ongoing process that has been going on for billions of years on Earth, or at least since vegetation decay began and the fluids seeped down into pockets in the Earth. Basically, all we can do is to keep the environment clean of trash, recycle, minimize our USAGE of fossil fuels, cap and contain GHG, etc. etc. Mother Nature will have her own way in the long run. . .whether good or bad. It all starts with the individual and what he or she is willing to do to save the planet. Action, not just words is needed. There are a lot of uninformed people, so an advertising campaign on all media should be started soon to inform them of what can happen if they don't stop polluting. Some people will go on polluting anyway, because that's the way they are. Ignorance is bliss.
rubberman
5 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2011
neven1.typepad.com/blog/2011/12/arctic-methane-russian-researchers-report.html

@howhot - The above link was provided me another poster. If this isn't the one you read, check it out. They are indeed talking about the methane clathrates on siberian arctic continental shelf. The lead researchers also provide input regarding the size of the plumes coming from the ocean floor, along with some graphics as to what may be causing the increase. They also speculate as to how dangerous they feel this is should it continue. After I read it I researched a number of supporting papers to check accuracy...they aren't exaggerating.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (2) Dec 21, 2011
You should probably find a more reputable source. Try the following two research papers which identified the source of methane released in previous warming episodes, by checking isotope composition of methane in Greenland ice cores.

Grachev and Severinghaus 2005

and

Petrenko et al. 2009

or

Fischer et al. 2008

They all agree, as does the IPCC ar4 (page 796) that methane clathrates are not an issue. Look to the tropical wetlands in stead. Apparently rotting and pooping things emit more methane than clathrates.

or here:

http://www.eureka...2109.php
QQBoss
not rated yet Dec 21, 2011
Beijing currently has 5 coal fired power plants in the city, all of which will be converted to natural gas by 2015 as part of the push to reduce pollution. This was announced about one month ago. The US Embassy monitoring has definitely embarrassed the Mandarins.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2011
This is one story I saw about the methane vents.

http://www.nzhera...10773020

and this one is another.

http://www.dailym...-newsxml

Maybe 2015 VD?
rubberman
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2011
Thanks HH, the links reference the same research as the one I posted. Also thanks GS for yours. The IPCC didn't have this data (Semiletov's) at the time of their report as it was just released a little over 2 weeks ago. The wetland source for the kickstart to the holocene maximum is not too surprising as that would encompass methane stored in northern peet bogs as well as tropical wetlands but that same link mentioned the Clathrates for PET maximum which is in line with other research I have read.

My suggestion would be to give Semiletov a grant extension and keep sending him out to the ESCS to monitor the plumes for a few years. The danger of this event unfolding needs to be verified.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2011
My suggestion would be to give Semiletov a grant extension and keep sending him out to the ESCS to monitor the plumes for a few years. The danger of this event unfolding needs to be verified.


I would actually suggest an independent confirmation from another group entirely. His result is way different than every other group that's gone up there before. I cited several different groups that all agree with one another. Don't place too much confidence in a new study that has been neither peer reviewed nor confirmed by follow-up studies.

It is worth looking into, but send another group with their own equipment.

Either way, it's irrelevant due to the relatively small emissions we're talking about here, in comparison to methane emissions from tropical and temperate sources. It's a drop in the bucket.
rubberman
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2011
I would bet, given the report, that there will be more than one research team heading back there at the same time next year.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2011
I would bet, given the report, that there will be more than one research team heading back there at the same time next year


Yes, and if this guy is correct about the quantity, then I wouldn't be surprised to see funding come from fosile fuel exploration companies. ...if they can get the permits from the relevant governments. If so, they will use their own people and their own equipment, so they will be able to give a good independent confirmation or denial of what that guy estimated.

That's really far off topic though. For now, I'll stick with the two year old research which has been thoroughly peer reviewed, published, and backed up with follow-up study. You can go with the two week old press release if you want.
Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2011
GSwift: I'm confused; the first of the papers you mentioned doesn't seem to have anything to do with attribution of methane sources, and from what I can tell (which isn't necessarily that much; I was awake 'til 6 AM last night, and I'm not at my best, cognitively speaking) appears to be focused mainly on using different isotopic mixing ratios to precisely pin down the magnitude and timing of glacial to interglacial warming. Are there perhaps multiple papers with the same name? I couldn't find any others coauthored by Grachev and Severinghaus that dealt with methane, but perhaps I got the wrong Severinghaus. The one I found was this one: http://icebubbles...2005.pdf

On another note, from what I can tell from the paper by Semiletov being reference by both yourself and Howhot, the source of the methane bubbling up from the depths is NOT believed to be from destabilizing methane clathrates; rather, the source is from methane trapped beneath permafrost--
Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2011
--Which I understand (could be wrong about this) is not as stable as methane stored in ice clathrates--or at least, harder to get to; it's already unstable, and the only thing preventing it from having been released before now was the permafrost cap above it. In clathrates, of course, the methane is not sequestered underneath a cap of ice, but is actually incorporated into the ice itself.

Nota bene, I say this more for clarity's sake than anything else; from reading the other sources you posted, GSwift, the source of methane during the termination of the last interglacial appears to have been largely from wetlands, and not from either clathrates OR permafrost disintegration. However, as the methane releases referenced in the various papers you referenced all occurred in much colder times than our own (it was, after all, during an ice age), it's not clear to me that the lack of significant releases of methane from permafrost then precludes similar releases now.
Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2011
Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that Semiletov's paper is not the first to find methane bubbling out of the sea floor in disturbing quantities. Unfortunately I don't have any papers immediately on hand to support that (that assertion is just based on my own memory, and of course memories can be faulty), and sadly I don't have time to track down something to support that (it being Christmas Eve and all), but you might want to check up on that, if'n you're curious.
Hari_Seldon
4 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2011
This is great news! I've read the average traffic cop in China has only a lifespan of roughly 45 years from inhaling leaded fumes all day.

Developing countries are bound to pollute but they can at least mitigate the damage they cause in the name of progress. It took us a much longer time to industrialize so it spread out the damage over centuries, rather than decades. The Chinese are blessed with technology that the first industrialized countries did not possess when they began the process, so China's industrialization is hastened, also its pollution. Industrialization is all fine and dandy as long as you can survive it!

This will be good for the world and particularly the Chinese. Good for them!