Stories tagged China

Wind power growing
Wind power growingCourtesy Dirk Ingo Franke

China doubles its wind genereration in 2009

The Global Wind Energy Council said that China doubled power capacity from 12 gigawatts to 25 gigawatts last year.

World wind generation up 31% in 2009

The wind power sector grew rapidly last year. It was up 31% despite the economic downturn. The market for new wind turbines was worth $63 billion in 2009.

China is aiming to increase that sixfold — to 150 gigawatts — by 2020. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association says it could hit that target far earlier. But wind power still accounts for only 1% of China's total electricity consumption.

The United States still ranks as the world's largest user of wind power — with 35 gigawatts of capacity — although only 2% of its total electricity consumption comes from wind, the Global Wind Energy Council said. The European Union depends on wind for 9% of its power.USA Today

Tomorrow – May 12 – marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that tore open central China. I've come across two interesting articles regarding that anniversary. Disaster tourism – controversial to many – is huge in the area. And there's a mini baby-boom among couples who lost their only child in the rubble of the quake. Much clean up still needs to be done as this slideshow attests to. Click each link above to learn more.

Mar
25
2009

I can has babiez?: Um, no. Sorry.
I can has babiez?: Um, no. Sorry.Courtesy roo72
Chinese officials have come up with another plan to combat their “desert rat plague,” one so crazy it just might work: gerbil abortion snacks.

As far as I can tell, gerbils (or “desert rats,” I guess) are native to China’s deserts and dry grasslands. However, the gerbils have gotten out of control, and are destroying too much of the grass, possibly accelerating desertification in a country that’s already one third desert.

According to Wikipedia, China already came up with a plan so crazy it just might work: in 2003, the government began releasing eagles into the desert to control the Gerbil population. Apparently, despite being so crazy it just might work, it didn’t work, and they have moved on to gerbil abortion pills.

The pills are small, resemble bran feed, and will be scattered around the gerbils’ burrows. They should prevent gerbils from becoming pregnant, and cause abortions in already-pregnant females. According to official press release, the pills should have “little effect on other animals.” Shucks, this plan is just so crazy it might work.

I don’t know too much about the situation, but scattering birth control pills across a fragile ecosystem seems… It seems like something that wouldn’t surprise me if it had plenty of unforeseen repercussions. Also, considering how the gerbils are a native species, it makes me wonder what happened that they have become a danger to their ecosystem. My guess is that there are too few predators. (Which, I suppose, the eagle infusion of 2003 was meant to address.) One wonders how the remaining gerbil predators will be affected by eating rodents stuffed with birth control pills…

Mar
06
2009

Zipingpu Dam: Upriver from the town of Dujiangyan, Sichuan, China.
Zipingpu Dam: Upriver from the town of Dujiangyan, Sichuan, China.Courtesy TaylorMiles
Scientists suspect that last year’s devastating earthquake in China may not have been a natural disaster. A nearby dam may have weakened fault lines and spurred the magnitude-7.9 quake.

The Zipingpu Dam is only 3.4 miles from the epicenter of the May 12, 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province. This quake killed 80,000 people and left 5 million homeless. Although the area exhibits a lot of seismic activity, an earthquake of this magnitude is unusual.

Water in the Zipingpu Dam

The Zipingpu Dam is one of nearly 400 hydroelectric dams in the area. It rises 511 feet high and holds 315 million tons of water. US and Chinese scientists believe that the weight of the water increased the direct pressure on the fault line below. This volume of water would exert 25 times more pressure annually than is natural. Additionally, water seeping into the rock acted as a lubricant and relaxed the tension between the two sides of the fault line. Since the reservoir was filled in 2004, the water caused a chain of ruptures culminating in this massive earthquake.

Worldwide impact on green energy

Sichuan province is the epicenter for more than just a powerful earthquake. It is here that most of China’s hydroelectric power is generated, an integral component of its renewable power plans. The area also produces much of the world’s wind turbine equipment. The infrastructure will take months or years to repair.

Before the quake, China admitted to major flaws in the country’s 87,000 dams. The earthquake damaged other dams and power stations and several major reservoirs were drained to prevent their dams from failing.

Snow closes roads after rainmaking attempt
Snow closes roads after rainmaking attemptCourtesy John Lemieux
The longest drought in 38 years in Beijing, China prompted scientists to trying "rain making". They fired 313 cigarette-size sticks of silver iodide into the clouds. Heavy snow brought on after seeding the clouds closed 12 highways around Beijing. Scientific American

Jan
18
2009

Bird flu rears its head again in China

Bird flu death in China
Bird flu death in ChinaCourtesy broterham
A two year old girl in northern China has tested positive for bird flu. Early this month, January 5, a 19-year-old Beijing woman died of bird flu after handling poultry. She had purchased ducks at a market in Hebei Province, which neighbors Beijing. Although she had close contact with 116 people, no one around her has fallen ill.

Pandemic possibilities worry officials

Human-to-human transmission of avian flu is rare, but officials worry the virus could mutate and become a deadly pandemic. H5N1 has led to 248 deaths worldwide since 2003, including 21 in China.

Source articles:
Click this link to read all CNN articles about bird flu

Dec
30
2008

The 15 meter shantungosaurus: but if it were the new 19.3 meter dino... you could probably lie down in it's mouth. Very big.
The 15 meter shantungosaurus: but if it were the new 19.3 meter dino... you could probably lie down in it's mouth. Very big.Courtesy Vasilis
I can’t say whether that confusion is on the part of the Chinese state media, AFP news, or my own brain.

Apparently a massive deposit of dinosaur bones (the world’s largest in terms of area) has been found in China. Excavations at the site have unearthed about 7,600 individual bones from the late Cretaceous. The remains include examples of armored anklyosaurs, our favorite tyrannosaurs, and some spectacular hadrosaurs.

The aforementioned confusion arises with the hadrosaurs, I think. According to the article about the find (and I say “the article” because every science news site is running more or less an identical piece), “included in the find was the world’s largest ‘platypus’—or ‘duck-billed dinosaur’ in Chinese—ever discovered measuring 9 meters high with a wingspan of over 16 meters.”

Say what? I… think… something awesome is hidden in there, but someone here is confused: at least me, and perhaps China and/or AFP.

It turns out that our friend the platypus did indeed live during the cretaceous, alongside the dinosaurs, but I don’t think that’s what they’re referring to. “Wingspan” further complicates things, as neither platypuses nor duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurs) really have the body type associated with a wingspan (you probably wouldn’t give the limb length of a beaver or a cow in terms of “wingspan,” right?)

Also “‘duck-billed dinosaur’ in Chinese”? I’m pretty sure that all of those words are, in fact, English. Yes, yes they are.

I have the feeling that someone involved in this story was really struggling with a second language, and the other person wasn’t helping at all.

Anyway… nobody cares about that, am I right? You clicked on this post because it said “dinosaur,” and I ruined it, didn’t I? Well, I’m sorry, but that was bothering me. I mean, “platypus”? Whatever.

But, yeah, this is pretty cool. China is a freaking dinosaur factory, and I’m into it. And this 9 meter high hadrosaur sounds neat. From what I could find, this guy, the shantungosaurus, is more or less the largest hadrosaur so far, and it measures about 50 feet long and maybe 7 meters tall (sorry to switch from imperial to metric there, but that’s how I roll). The shantungosaurus was also found in Cretaceous strata in China, so it might be reasonable to assume that it was similarly proportioned to this new dinosaur, and if that’s the case, this thing would be… about 19.3 meters long? Does that sound right? That’s about 63 feet long! That’s… huge!

Long-necked sauropods, like diplodocus or apatosaurus, reached lengths like that all the time, but for a two-legged hadrosaur 63 feet is massive. The T. rex, for comparison, maxed out at about 45 feet in length (I know, I know, apples and oranges, but we’re looking for some reference, aren’t we?)

The information on the site seems pretty bare-bones at this point, but it’ll be interesting to see what else comes out of the find.

Sep
24
2008

China National Space Administration logo
China National Space Administration logoCourtesy CNSA
Sometime later this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow, China will launch its third manned space mission, Shenzhou-7 into space along with three astronauts – one of whom will perform China's first ever space walk.

The goal of the mission is to allow the Chinese program to develop the skills needed for the construction of a space station and eventual manned trips to the moon.

With the first manned Shenzhou mission in 2003, China joined the United States and the former Soviet Union as the only nations capable of launching astronauts into space.

Sep
21
2008

Deadly milk formula: Melamine added to Chinese baby milk is deadly.
Deadly milk formula: Melamine added to Chinese baby milk is deadly.Courtesy kirikiri

Babies are dying

Four babies have died after drinking milk powder contaminated with melamine. Melamine is a cheap plastic made from oil, and when added to powdered milk, looks like protein in tests. Melamine was in the news over a year ago when pet food from China containing melamine was killing people's pets. In an attempt to regain public confidence, China executed a top drug regulator who was taking bribes to approve substandard medicines, including an antibiotic blamed for at least 10 deaths.

So far 19 people have been arrested while 78 others have been interrogated, according to Yang Zongyong, vice governor of the northern province of Hebei where Sanlu is based.

"We will severely punish and discipline those people and workers who have acted illegally," Health Minister Gao said Saturday. Beijing AFP

Parents are furious

After a month of pride in China's national achievements with hosting the olympics, the food scandal has angry citizens posting quotes like:

"Drink a glass of milk a day, wipe out a country!"

"Foreign milk costs money, domestic milk costs lives" The Independent

Inspection free and government approved

Until a week ago, Sanlu's baby milk formula came with a seal stating "no inspection needed": their 1100 tests met the highest possible standards of government approval.
"So the question should really be whether the victims can sue the Chinese government."

Somebody should have to pay

"In an unprecedented stand yesterday that will test the Communist Party's limits on civil society, more than 70 human rights lawyers from 23 provinces and municipalities announced they will help parents whose babies are sick or have developed kidney stones from drinking tainted infant formula" (read more in the Sunday Herald)