Thursday, December 14, 2006

SUNDAY DECEMBER 17, 2006

An interesting addendum to this post I made on Friday.

I have written a few times in this space about how easily it is to become overwhelemed by information and the sheer number of people we see, hear and meet in our lifetimes.

This interesting article from the Washington Postby Jeremy Rifkin raises some interesting points about urbanization, environmentalism and extinction.

-200 years ago the average person would meet 200-300 people, in their LIFETIME

-Ancient Rome was the first city with 1 million people. The world would not see another until London in 1820. There are more than 400 now and 1,000 are projected for the near future

-The Sears Tower in Chicago uses more energy per day than the entire city of Rockford (pop 152,000) per day.



Its a good news/bad news day on the environmental front. And not surprisingly, both stories come out of Asia. Asia is going to be the key battleground in the coming decades in terms of gains and losses in environmental sustainability and climate change.

First the good news.

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea has opened the world's largest garbage-fuelled power plant and expects to reduce its imports of heavy oil by 500,000 barrels a year as a result.

The 50-megawatt plant, designed to provide power to more than 180,000 households, began operating on Tuesday. It sits on a mammoth garbage dump in the city of Incheon west of Seoul, the ministry said in a statement.

For fuel, it uses only the methane gas naturally generated from the decomposing garbage on the site.

What a GREAT idea. Use garbage, which we produce at a prodigious rate, to create energy which we need, while eliminating the garbage, the need for 500,000 barrels of oil a year and greenhouse gas emissions of 1.73 million tons per year.

Ra! Way to go South Korea.

The Bad News

The rare Yangtse River Dolphin has gone extinct.

Rare white dolphin declared as extinct By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press Writer
Wed Dec 13, 7:46 PM ET

BEIJING - A rare, nearly blind white dolphin that survived for millions of years is effectively extinct, an international expedition declared Wednesday after ending a fruitless six-week search of its Yangtze River habitat.

The baiji would be the first large aquatic mammal driven to extinction since hunting and overfishing killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s.

For the baiji, the culprit was a degraded habitat — busy ship traffic, which confounds the sonar the dolphin uses to find food, and overfishing and pollution in the Yangtze waters of eastern China, the expedition said.

Now, as some of you know my business is in China and I spend a great deal of time there. I have crusied the Yangste River. It is and has been the spine, the heart and the soul of China for more than 5,000 years. It is the world's third longest river and also one its most heavily trafficked and polluted.

This story is a metaphor for what is happening all over China. Fantatsic growth and unimaginable new wealth is being created but the country is literally becoming apoisonedd environmental disaster. The country's water supply is threatened, its air isalmosttunbreathablee and the soil is degrading and disappearing (not good when you have to feed 1.3 billion people).

China's great rise could bestoppede in its tracks if this does not change.

Asia has a chance to be the best hope for sustainable growth and pollution reduction as well as the best hope for curbing greenhouse gasses. It also has the potential to push the world over the edge on both counts.

What does that mean for the West? Necessity is the mother of all invention. Asian countries could be the first to convert to green economies through innovation in environmental technology and practices and not only clean up the world but realize record profits from countries around the world buying their technology.

GREEN CAPITALISM!!! They are not mutually exclusive as Big Oil and Bushco would have you believe.

The US and Europe have a chance to take the lead in producing new green technologies that turn big profits, just the South Koreans have. Will we take it?

R.I.P Baiji