Spilling oil is something China may have in common with other countries, but who spills the most?

September 16, 2014

MSNBC reported on BP’s April 20, 2010 oil spill disaster. After an explosion that killed 11 workers and injured 17, more than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing industries and tourism was devastated while oil washed ashore turning beaches black with goo.

A few months later in July 2010, the BBC reported on China struggling to recover from their worst oil spill disaster ever—about 18 to 28 million gallons of crude oil spilled.

China was new to this type of disaster and yet, they quickly mobilized an army of volunteers and anglers to help clean the pollution from the area around the port of Dalian, one of China’s most important strategic oil reserves.

China’s oil spill came from an explosion in an oil pipeline. Witnesses report that China may have responded faster than the US did for the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline that exploded belonged to China National Petroleum Corporation.

Using this list published by Foreign Policy Magazine of the world’s largest oil spills, let’s see how China’s oil spill compares? I mean, who spilled more oil?

In January 1991, As Iraqi forces withdrew from their position in Kuwait, they sabotaged hundreds of wells, oil terminals, and tankers. Between 160 million and 410 million gallons poured into the Persian Gulf.

In June 1979, the IXTOC 1 Oil Well exploded spilling 138 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.

In July 1979, 90 million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean 10 miles off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago.

In February 1983, 80 million gallons of oil spilled into the Persian Gulf during the height of the Iran-Iraq war when an oil tanker hit the Nowrux Field Platform causing a leak that couldn’t be capped for months because the platform was under constant attack by Iraqi planes.

In May of 1991, 80 million gallons spilled into the ocean 900 miles off the coast of Angola when a tanker holding 260,000 tons of crude exploded.

Foreign Policy Magazine didn’t list the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989 where about 11 million U.S. gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound. For a more complete list of global oil spills, check this list on Wikipedia. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page so you don’t miss anything. You may notice that only 3 are listed for China versus the 62, I counted for the U.S.

Is this the price we must pay for a world that depends on oil/coal for electricity and transportation while the oil and coal industries all but ignore alternative sources of power, and people like the Koch brothers often succeed at pressuring the U.S. government to do little to nothing?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Suzhou’s Humble Administrator’s Garden: Part 2 of 2

September 3, 2014

Easy Diving Blogspot.com posted a piece (with a few stunning winter pictures) about Suzhou. Easy Diving said the city’s history goes back to 514 BC.  The gardens were built by imperial officials to create an oasis of tranquility intended for inward reflection.

That tranquility was shattered several times.  The gardens were first destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion.

Then the Japanese invaded China during World War II, and the gardens were destroyed a second time.

During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, many of the gardens were destroyed a third time.

It wasn’t until 1981, several years after Mao’s death, and Deng Xiaoping ruled the Communist Party, that most of the gardens were rebuilt along with many of China’s Buddhist temples that had been destroyed.

Start with or return to Return to Suzhou’s Humble Administrator’s Garden: Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China Saving the Giant Panda

July 22, 2014

The giant panda is popular.  I just Googled “Giant Panda” and there were almost 27 million hits, and a Google Blog search resulted in 620 thousand hits. The second Blog listed on that search was the Smithsonian and the post was about giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian at the National Zoo.

When we took my sister and her youngest daughter to China in 2008, my forty-year-old niece wanted to see the pandas and have a picture taken of one sitting on her lap. That was one area of China we didn’t visit, so that didn’t happen.

The giant panda—because it’s so cute with its black and white coloring—is considered by many of the bear’s fans as docile, but it has been known to attack humans. It probably isn’t a good idea to have a giant panda sit on your lap. An adult male may weigh 330 pounds and a female 275 pounds. After all, it’s still a wild animal.

In fact, China’s giant pandas are considered a living treasure. Although the dragon has historically served as China’s national emblem, recently the giant panda has also served as an emblem for the country. The Chengdu Research Base is working hard to breed the pandas so the species survives.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.

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Greenpeace in China

June 3, 2014

If China is a totalitarian country without much freedom as critics such as Liu Xiaobo claim, why is Greenpeace thriving there without harassment from China’s central government?

Then, if democracies are so desirable, why did Japan send two Greenpeace activists to jail for one year after exposing widespread corruption in the Japanese government’s Southern Ocean whaling programme?

While in China, efforts to combat climate change demonstrate that China’s government acknowledges the challenge as well as the responsibility of China to tackle them.


Listen to Greenpeace China’s Tom Wang in Tianjin calmly being honest about China’s pollution challenges.

In fact, Greenpeace China has offices in Hong Kong (opened 1997), Beijing and Guangzhou (opened in 2002) and is the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in the People’s Republic of China.

Then in 2006, Greenpeace China was the only NGO to be consulted on an early draft of renewable energy law by China’s National People’s Congress.

Has the US government consulted with Greenpeace?

China has also allowed two Greenpeace expeditions to China’s Himalayan region in 2006 and 2007 where evidence was discovered of the dramatic retreat of glaciers, which was reported in National Geographic Magazine.

One Greenpeace China campaign focused on stopping Monsanto, a US-headquartered biotechnology giant, from patenting a Chinese indigenous soybean variety.

Earlier campaigns in China focused on food, agriculture and electronic waste while highlighting the dangers of PVC in children’s toys.

Today, Greenpeace China runs five major campaigns focused on climate, energy, food and agriculture, water pollution and a campaign on air pollution focused in Hong Kong.

I admit finding this information about Greenpeace China surprised me because all I’ve heard in the Western media of Greenpeace is that they are a gang of dangerous activists doing crazy things to get attention.

Until reading about Greenpeace in China, I didn’t know what a positive force this NGO was for cleaning the environment.

Now I want to know why the US isn’t doing more. But I already know the answer: the Koch brothers, who own most of the U.S. Congress.

Visit Greenpeace East Asia to discover more of what Greenpeace is up to in China.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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China may be putting on the brakes for the world’s trash

April 16, 2014

There are more than one hundred thousand people working in China’s recycling industry, and it’s a hard way to make a living—even more so now that China’s central government is implementing stricter environmental laws.

However, trash and recycling are a big business in China. Some estimate that it is a fourteen billion dollar business for a family driven cottage industry.

Long hours of hard work add up to a living wage for the Chinese involved in this recycling business.

According to a recent United Nations report, “China now appears to be the largest e-waste dumping site in the world.”

The collected recyclable material is taken from the city for a few hour drive to factories where the trash is turned into raw material for a second life.

In fact, “We sell this plastic to Foxconn,” a recycle worker says.

And the recyclables just don’t come from China’s cities. It comes from all over the world, since China is the world’s largest importer of trash.

Computers and bottles tossed in recycle bins in the US, often show up in China where they are processed then resold as a new product to Western countries.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Reclaiming land from China’s threatening deserts

April 15, 2014

Almost one third of China’s land is desert—a process that has accelerated due to development and human activities. The deserts of China have also become a tourist attraction.

In addition, another third is mountains with an additional 10% covered with hills. Combine deserts, mountains and hills and that accounts for about 70% of the country’s land surface.

One strategy to slow the spread of the deserts was to create a grid of plant growth that will hold the sand in place. Trees have been planted too—all to stop the sand from spreading.

This project started years ago. Together with other planting strategies, this slowed the process of spreading deserts and has reversed the trend.

However, due to natural resources needed to fuel China’s growth and a huge population, northern China has become a boomtown and is attracting millions because of the opportunities to earn better money.

Herders have also been restricted from allowing their animals to graze on the areas that are being reclaimed from the desert.

This has caused a reduction in the size of herds such as sheep and goats.

China has no choice but to win this battle with the desert since there is a shortage of land to use for food production—only 15% of the land that can be cultivated for food crops but only 75% of that land (about 10% of China’s land) is used for that purpose.

Yet, even with these challenges, China still produces more food than any other country.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The land of famines and drought: China

April 9, 2014

For more than two millennia, imperial records show that China has suffered from droughts and famines on an annual basis in one or more of its provinces.  This history may explain why China spent several centuries starting long before the birth of Christ to build its thousand mile long Grand Canal that puts the Panama and Suez Canals to shame.

Today, China finds itself water challenged in the north and southwest.  The Daily Mail reported January 2014 that “The largest freshwater lake in China which covers an expanse twice the size of London has dried up because of an ongoing drought.”

Solve Climate News reports that drought had dried up areas of southern China.  Three-hundred-and-ten reservoirs, 580 rivers and 3,600 pools have been baked dry.

Older villagers say reservoirs and irrigation channels are dry for the first time in their lives.

Some blame Global Warming, while environmental activists blame China’s biggest hydro-engineering project, the South-to-North water diversion scheme, which is designed to channel water north to cities such as Beijing and Tianjin.

In fact, this couldn’t be true because the South-to-North water diversion will not be completed until 2050 and due to environmental concerns; the western line is still in the planning stages. Only the eastern and central lines are under construction. Source: Water Link International

CNN reports that drought in northern China is threatening crops in at least 12 provinces where more than 3.5 million people live, including about 2 million livestock. More than 200 million people live in northern China.

The only region of China that’s getting torrential, record rainfall is southeast China where floods have killed many and displaced thousands. Source Accuweather.com

Much of China’s water originates in Tibet. In southwest China, the Mekong River originates on the Tibetan plateau. The Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers comes from the glaciers and melt water of the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. However, the snow and ice in Tibet is melting and the region is turning into a desert.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


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