Tag Archives: China

China and India’s Soot, Smog and Wood Smoke Comes to the Northwest

Asia’s growing air pollution – billowing million ton plumes of soot, smog and wood smoke – is making the Pacific region cloudier and stormier, disrupting winter weather patterns along the West Coast and into the Arctic” reads the first sentence of a headline story in today’s Seattle Times. Just one more example of the interconnectedness of our climate worldwide and mankind’s impact on changing it.

The story was written by Robert Lee Holtz of the Los Angeles Times. While the Seattle Times reprint of the story includes most of the LA Times article (I’ve printed what was deleted below), it changed the headline to a question. Reading the original story, I wonder why?

The LA Times headline said “Asian air pollution affecting weather. The Pacific region has become stormier, scientists say.”
The Seattle Times headline puts it as a question – “Is Asia’s bad air stirring storms in West? New Research Study. Pollution may be seeding storm clouds on West Coast”

Read the first sentence again and read the article. Read the sentences the Seattle Times omitted from the original story. Why has the Seattle Times slanted the original story with it’s headline asked as a question? The result is that the research is downplayed. What seemed like strong statements supporting the conclusions of the study as reported by the LA Times are instead called into question.

The Seattle Times headline question makes it appear as if the research raised questions that hadn’t been answered. Where did the doubting headline come from? Isn’t this type of editorial doubting just one more example of why it’s taken so long to get movement on addressing pollution issues like global warming ?

In its discussion The LA Times cited a new study released yesterday. “Carried on prevailing winds, the industrial outpouring of dust, sulfur, carbon grit, and trace metals from booming Asian economies is having an intercontinental cloud seeding effect” writes the LA Times regarding a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The PNAS is one of the world’s leading scientific journals respected for its research studies that are peer reviewed before they are published.

The lead researcher in the study, Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M University states that, “The pollution transported from Asia makes storms stronger and deeper and more energetic. It is a direct link from large-scale storm systems to [human produced] pollution.”

So now you know why we had that record rainfall just a short while ago. All those “Made in China” and Made in Korea” or “Made in India” things we bought so cheap are really coming with an additional cost. Maybe they’re not as big of a bargain after all.

What the Seattle Times left out of the LA Times article:

In fact, on any spring or summer day, almost a third of the air high over Los Angeles, San Francisco and other California cities can be traced directly to Asia, researchers said. …

Usually, dust and industrial pollutants take from five days to two weeks to cross the Pacific to California. …

At monitoring sites along the U.S. West Coast, scientists have been detecting pollutants that originated from smokestacks and tailpipes thousands of miles to the west.

Recently, researchers at the University of Washington have captured traces of ozone, carbon monoxide, mercury and particulate matter from Asia at monitoring sites on Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Cheeka Peak in Washington state.

Cliff and his colleagues have been picking up the telltale chemical signatures of Asian particulates and other pollutants at several monitoring sites north of San Francisco and, during the last year, around Southern California….
“The air above Los Angeles is primarily from Asia,” Cliff
said. “Presumably that air has Asian pollution incorporated into

Headline comparisons:
A separate story in the Oregonian has this headline: “China’s dirty air threatens darker days for Northwest.” A statement, not a question.

Likewise The San Francisco Chronicle – “Pollution Tied to Rainstorms” puts the headline as a statement.

While the Tacoma News Tribune said “Pollution Tied to Rainstorms“, at least the Seattle Times reprinted most of the article in the LA Times. The TNT gave it a scant 4 short paragraphs.

The Olympian ran an AP story entitled – ‘Study finds Asia’s pollution brews storms over Pacific”

And while the Seattle PI has a story posted on its website with a statement headline (AP story – “Asian Pollution affects Pacific Storms” and 2 updates, I should note that today’s print edition had no story. Hopefully there will be a story in tomorrow’s print edition.

And I can not say for sure which of the other stories besides the Seattle Times story was also carried in their print editions.

Did Bill Gates Talk Privately to China’s President Hu about e-freedom??

The Seattle Times today notes that Bill Gates publicly

“hinted that China’s development requires embracing new concepts such as freedom to access the Internet a delicate subject at a time when U.S. companies face pressure to accept government censorship of their Chinese sites.

“People and business everywhere are harnessing the power of the Internet, which will have a profound impact on economic development, education and communications,” Gates said. “Industry and governments around the world should work even more closely to protect privacy and security and promote the exchange of ideas, while respecting legitimate government considerations.””

The Seattle Times yesterday pointed out the dilemma of Microsoft doing business in China. China jails e-journalists. And Microsoft has helped them.

“With the mainstream Chinese media heavily censored, the Internet has become a a vital outlet for independent journalism, critical writing and information. The authorities are ruthless in their suppression of criticism of their rule in any medium. China has jailed more writers and journalists than any other country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Fifteen of the 32 journalists in prison in China in 2005 wrote for the Internet. Very often they are charged with violating national security or subversion laws for daring to raise a critical voice. Censorship in China is nothing new, but the growing cooperation of U.S. technology companies in China’s repressive policies is.”

Where is Microsoft specifically in this? On Feb 15, Microsoft along with Cisco, Google, and Yahoo testified before Congress:

“Microsoft associate general counsel Jack Krumholtz, along with his industry colleagues, dutifully laid out the dilemma they face: Cooperate with China’s repressive demands, or risk losing a foothold in the world’s most promising internet market — more than 110 million Chinese are online and the number is steadily growing.”

“Microsoft confronted that dilemma in late 2005, when the Chinese government requested that it censor blogger Zhao Jing. On Dec. 30, with no prior warning, Microsoft pulled the plug on Zhao’s site, which was hosted on MSN Spaces. The silencing came after Zhao wrote about the government’s removal of top editors at the Beijing News.”

“A storm of criticism persuaded Microsoft to alter its policy. The company now says it will still shut down blogs in China when told to by the government, but the sites will continue to live on in a cyber no-man’s land outside China, where their authors will not be easily able to update them.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tues sent President Hu a letter urging him to reverse his repressive media policies. Bloggers and other journalists in America and other countries need to do likewise.Reporters Without Borders said it had obtained a copy of the verdict showing that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) helped Chinese police to identify Jiang by confirming that the e-mail account ZYMZd2002 had been used jointly by Jiang and another pro-democracy activist Li Yibing.”

Will anyone discuss free speech and democracy with President Hu of China when he visits Washington state?

President Hu Jinao of China is visiting Washington state this Tues. Everyone from Starbucks to Microsoft to Boeing to Governor Gregoire and former Governor Locke are lined up to talk about free trade and China increasing trade with Washington State. In their eagerness to get more trade with China will anyone dare mention the words free speech and democracy to President Hu?

When Hu visits the White House two days later we know he will meet a kindred spirit in controlling and censoring the news and what people can see and hear. So we can expect nothing there in regards to free speech rights, like in the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But what about Washington State? The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that ,

U.S. tech giants are helping the Chinese express themselves online — as long as they don’t write about democracy, Tibet, sex, Tiananmen Square, Falun Gong, government corruption or any other taboo subject.

Microsoft bans “democracy” and “Dalai Lama” from the Chinese version of its blog site. Yahoo recently turned over information that helped the Chinese government track down and imprison a journalist for the crime of
forwarding an e-mail. Google omits banned publications from its Chinese news service. “

In the quest for dollars I am sure the talk will center on apples and wheat and jet planes and coffee and software. Right now China is getting the better end of the deal. The US Census Bureau as reported by The Economic Policy Institute said the international deficit in goods and services trade reached a record level of $726 billion in 2005, an 18% increase over 2004.

As the EPI notes,

China’s trade surplus with the United States increased by 24.5% in 2005, to $202 billion, the United States’ largest bilateral deficit. This bilateral deficit with China increased $40 billion in 2005, more than accounting for the entire increase in the United States’ non-oil trade deficit.”
“U.S. imports from China are six times the value of U.S. exports to China, making it the United States’ most imbalanced trading relationship. U.S. imports from China were $243 billion in 2005 (an increase of 24%), making China the second largest exporter of goods to the United States, behind Canada at $288 billion. At current rates of growth, China will surpass Canada and become the largest supplier of U.S. imports within the next two years.”

But there is the additional cost here as the US tries to encourage China to import more American goods and services. That is the cost of the US turning a blind eye to China on censorship and free speech. Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo in their quest to increase trade with China have all agreed to Chinese censorship of the Internet.

Will anyone meeting with President Hu have the courage to talk about this issue? Or will the dollars signs of trade cloud their eyes and plug their ears?