back to article China in the grip of a 'NUCLEAR WINTER': Smog threat to crops

The heavy air pollution gripping China has become so severe that experts fear crops in the region will be unable to grow properly this season. The South China Morning Post cites research from China Agricultural University in reporting that the air pollution which has settled over Beijing in recent months has blocked out so …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ole Juul

    One Thing Leads to Another

    We'll just have to send them some more coal so they can make power for those grow lights they'll be needing.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: One Thing Leads to Another

      Maybe Japan'll be nice and lend them Godzilla.

      He's kicked smog's butt before!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox20l8LtE88

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: One Thing Leads to Another

      send them some more coal so they can make power for those grow lights

      Let them eat coke?

  2. Anonymous Vulture
    FAIL

    Economics Chinese Style

    China is modernizing its economy on the backs of its people. Unfortunately for the population, this is the country of the Great Leap Forward. People are considered just another economic resource, just like the coal burning in the power plants poisoning the factory workers who rely on those same power plants to keep running so they can scratch out a living.

    As for the rest of the world, the pollution is not going to remain in China. Neither are the rising food prices resulting from the need to import additional food to feed those who have not yet been laid low from the pollution.

    The only upside is that a few multinational corporations will report a bump in earnings from coal and food sales to China.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Economics Chinese Style

      What they need is a proper British leader who will close all those smelly manufacturing industries and allow China to build a profitable and stable economy based on hedge funds.

      As a bonus you get all your coal mines closed

      1. JeevesMkII

        Re: Economics Chinese Style

        Come now. Even at the height of the cold war, when we were quite prepared to obliterate Beijing with atomic fire, we wouldn't stoop so low as to inflict Chairman Thatcher on the poor bastards. I'm pretty sure that's considered a crime against humanity.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Economics Chinese Style

      What you fail to see to see is that a lot of that pollution is coming from those same people you claim are being trod upon - for example, those millions of Chinese buying a brand new SUV and totally unwilling to give up their Party-given right of burning fuel in traffic jams, or driving like nuts on their new freeways. Or those, you know, who now think they have a right to use heating in winter, and A/C in summer. Most of them are still not using hot water to wash clothes, but they do now to wash dishes. So, generally having a life those rich Westerners. Hey, like you, actually.

      How dare they think they can have our lifestyle and pollute as much as we do (yeah, we still pollute much more than them by capita, let's not forget that embarrassing little fact when giving them lessons on what they should do).

      You think it's all their government's fault? Think again. I was there during the Olympics, when cars were regulated by their plate number. It was great. But I was also there after the Olympics, when people got pissed and wanted to drive again, and generally, did not respect the rules. Traffic jams and pollution came back quick enough, and have increased ever since.

      Hopefully, all the new nuclear plants they're planning will help clean their atmosphere.

  3. Mark Simon

    Sharing the Blame

    A lot of China’s industry is exported to the rest of the world where we low prices are so important that we don’t care who suffers and how.

    It is absurd to think that importing goods from overseas more cheaply than manufacturing them locally is not a distortion of reality. In this case, it is achieved by poor wages and working conditions, unreliable quality control, and a disregard for the environment.

    The medium to long term consequences may well include higher prices as manufacturing and food production in China gets trickier.

    1. John Sanders
      Facepalm

      Re: Sharing the Blame

      """A lot of China’s industry is exported to the rest of the world where we low prices are so important that we don’t care who suffers and how."""

      And why should we care? Do not get me wrong, it doesn't make anybody happy to learn that other people is suffering, but how the heck do you think that we're responsible?

      Because we have good living standards and they don't?

      Ask yourself this question before you make us all guilty of something we have no part with.

      So why do they not have good living standards? Answer: Because they live under a Communist-dictatorship state where people are told what to do and their lives are planned by the state who has no regards for anybody else but themselves.

      """It is absurd to think that importing goods from overseas more cheaply than manufacturing them locally is not a distortion of reality. In this case, it is achieved by poor wages and working conditions, unreliable quality control, and a disregard for the environment."""

      And how are we responsible for this? Because when we go to the shops we buy something that we can afford and interest us? Do not make me laugh.

      """The medium to long term consequences may well include higher prices as manufacturing and food production in China gets trickier."""

      Yes because you can only make things cheap in China, and the rest of the world has forgotten how to make stuff.

      1. Havin_it
        Alert

        Re: Sharing the Blame

        I certainly agree there's no sense in a blame game, but let's play the numbers game instead: when speaking of China's "[not] good living standards" (and acknowledging that this is a generalisation, as there are plenty of people in China who live better than you or I), try reversing the perspective.

        China is bloody big and bloody populous. Extend it to the rest of the BRICS countries, all of which have a (broadly) similar social/economic/industrial profile, and you are talking about most of the people in the world by a good margin.

        The average worker (continuing with the generalisation) in these countries does not consider their "living standard" to be poor. Their quality-of-life metrics haven't gone through the roof in the last couple of centuries as ours in the West have, but they still got quite a bit better gradually and they certainly didn't get worse. If a modest bowl of rice has been all you've had every day of the week after your 12-hour labouring day for your whole life, then you're pretty bloody cheerful when you get to start having a bit of meat in it once or twice a week. And against that background, you also don't shit the bed because you can't afford a new iPhone (or because there's a higher chance of you dying through your working conditions, for that matter).

        Point: to these people -- again, most of the people in the world -- if they choose to consider the matter, the "good" living standards of the West might reasonably be considered excessive and unrealistic. And they'd be right: there is simply no way in hell that the whole world can live as comfortably as we do. To bring everyone to a median standard of life quality, ours would have to come down a lot further than everybody else's could possibly go up.

        Accepting this does not call for us to all collectively reach for the sackcloth and ashes: there's no point anyway, because that balancing will happen naturally over time, to a greater or lesser extent. It's already happening in fact: the BRICs are getting richer through their frugality (read: acceptance of "not-good living standards"), and consequently their middle classes are swelling with aspirational types who actually do want all the nice things we buy from them for themselves. This will affect social policy in their countries over time, and yes, they will start to command higher prices internationally for the fruits of their labour.

        Meanwhile, the industrially-weak consumer economies of the west will have to get their heads round the unpleasant notion that we probably can't afford all these nice shiny things long-term, which collectively adds up to a lowering of our "good living standards" to, er, not so "good". So I shouldn't bother beating ourselves up about how things got this way, but we bloody well ought to be thinking long and hard about what happens next.

  4. Winkypop Silver badge
    Gimp

    China: Breathtaking views!

    Cough, cough, splutter....

    Gas mask --->

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They advantage of an autocratic country

    Is that the President can decree that some factories must reduce pollution by x% or shut down entirely, as they did prior to/during the Beijing Olympics. If it really causes a problem for their agriculture, I'm sure that is what will be done.

    Particulate pollution isn't really a terrible problem for the rest of the world since it doesn't stay aloft forever and most will end up washed out somewhere over the Pacific. I'm sure it is detectable when it reaches the US, but LA's smog is still mostly a local problem.

    1. Ken Y-N
      Thumb Down

      Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

      The rest of the world includes South Korea and Japan, both of which are downwind of China, and indeed here in Osaka, Japan today we got our first-ever PM2.5 warning to avoid going out without a mask.

      Here's a PM2.5 site - as you can probably guess, red and black markers are not good!

      http://pm25.jp/

      1. Rustident Spaceniak
        Childcatcher

        Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

        Sorry for you, Ken. And that illustrates a salient point: What can and should the other developed countries do about this? I'd say, at least quietly offer advice on how we implemented environmental policies, for the Chinese to copy or not. No-one profits if they suffer, after all.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

          Quote: "Sorry for you, Ken"

          If you feel sorry now, how would you feel once the manufacturing will go _BACK_ to his (and ours) countries? Ultimately, the only reason for the ultracheap Chinese tat is not the labour. Labour is not such a big part of most modern manufacturing. It is the enviromental compliance. It makes anything between 10 times the difference (paper, paints, other chemicals and plastics) and 2-3 times the difference (electronics, classic heavy manufacturing) in price. This is without taking into account the cost of energy where clean vs dirty adds 1.5 or so times on top of that (particulate and sulfur control only).

          The moment Chinese put real enviromental controls in place all of that manufacturing is coming to a town near you, like it or not.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

            "The moment Chinese put real enviromental controls in place all of that manufacturing is coming to a town near you, like it or not."

            Chinese regulations require all existing power plants in the major industrial belts to comply with standards comparable to EU or US by the middle of this year. Of course that is separate from the more likely causes of urban smog (transport and non-energy industries).

            But that manufacturing isn't coming back to the US or Europe any time soon. China still has cheaper and more compliant labour, a state willingness to build what industry needs, lower taxes, and less capricous and meddlesome government. Even as China puts in FGD, NOx, particulate and mercury controls, the EU continues to push its climate change agenda that will keep local energy prices rising until 2030 based on markets broken by regulatory intervention, daft subsidies and taxes, all being thrown at immature technologies like wind power and solar.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

            Probably not coming to a town near you, unless you live in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia or other countries where weak environmental laws can be exploited.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: What can and should the other developed countries do about this?

          Invade. Crush. Partition. Rule benevolently.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

      China nowadays is not autocratic. It's authoritarian.

      There's a huge difference in that there is no single dictator-for-life to set arbitrary rules. Their leaders are chosen by consensus among a group, and are replaced regularly. They can fall out of favor.

      Also, remember that this is not a small country. Mayors of their biggest municipalities in effect have authority on areas more populated than most countries. They can't just be bossed around (and this leads to clashes when some of them get out of line, like what happened with the neomaoist mayor of Chongqing, who wanted a return to the good old times of Cultural Revolution and such).

      1. squigbobble

        Re: They advantage of an autocratic country

        There's an aphorism for that- 'the mountains are high and the emperor is far away'

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's OK

    Large parts of the UK are now suitable for growing rice, so we wont go without.

    This could stop me eating out in down-town Nanning for 40p per person though.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Ian Emery Re: It's OK

      "Large parts of the UK are now suitable for growing rice...." There is evidence built up over the last decade that the Chinese saw this coming and have been busily buying up farmland and favours in other countries, especially Africa and Latin America. The long term result will be deforestation and starvation in Third World countries on a level that makes the current brouhaha about the Amazon look like a minor issue.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ian Emery It's OK

        Agreed. Once Africa, South America etc. have destroyed their natural habitat to the extent we have, we're all fucked.

  7. Big_Ted
    Devil

    Well there you go Lewis et al

    The polution over China is blotting out the sun, therefore temperatures must be lower and therfore it explains the lack of a raise in te global temperature you keep on about.

    So the answer is to get a few more countries to grow their economy and not care about burning fossil fuels like crazy and we can head for a nice period of glaciers marking across the land......

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    4000 times the 'safe' level?

    If you read the original article it says that last October levels were 4000% the safe level, not 4000 times. Slight difference (two orders of magnitude)

    at 4000 times the safe level you could cut chunks out of the atmosphere with a knife!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's ok.

    As long as they can still churn more iPhones on the cheap...

    [/sarcasm]

  10. cs94njw

    You continue to send us cheap electronics, and perhaps offer up more of your rare ores for sale.

    We send you food. Although, our farmers are very slow at picking the food...

    Deal?

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "much of China's farmland will see crops wither or poorly develop "

    Hang on, how big is Beijing already ?

    This article reads as if all of China's farmland will suffer because of pollution in one city.

    I know Beijing must be quite a city, but I doubt the cloud covers 9 600 000 square kilometres.

    That said, I read an article not long ago stating the cloud was the size of California - not the smallest of the States.

    1. Dragon Leaves

      Re: "much of China's farmland will see crops wither or poorly develop "

      It does. I've lived there for 3 years. Traveled too. Look at the satellites pictures (rent is cheap). Believe it or not the area covered by smog is usually the whole of Hebei province and part of those around as well.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately that's half of the story. The other half is how contaminated the soil and the produce is.

  13. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Attention microphone-addicted (mostly) Republican politicians: Are we clear yet why we absolutely do NOT want to "take China's example" in "how to revitalize a manufacturing economy"?

    You might want to check up on why we passed all those "business unfriendly" clean-air regulations half a century ago before you go mouthing off again too.

    Or maybe you could just check on how many people choked to death in smog back in the worker's paradise of pre-"nanny state" legislation America.

  14. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Concentration

    A big portion of China's pollution problems might be due to the concentration of the world's industrial manufacturing being done there. Previously, industry was spread more throughout the rest of the world. Factor in the lack of environmental control requirements and the outcome is easy to calculate.

  15. Dragon Leaves

    It's worse

    Just came back from Beijing Sunday. Spent 3 years there. Monitored pollution with my own equipment. The pollution has a smell. The best way to grasp how bad it is is to use a flashlight in the dark to see the dense, dense fine and ultra fine dust or pollution in there.

    Here's a few pics of the countryside, at noon (mind you), with zero humidity, just outside the city in the countryside.

    http://s3.postimg.org/mqgdc0ker/Outside_Beijing_Noon_February_22_2014.jpg

    http://s27.postimg.org/uv3ga05w3/Outside_Beijing_again_Noon_February_22_2014.jpg

    ps: Please note that Xingtai and shijiazhuang are far worse than Beijing in pollution.

    pps: refer to

    http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/

    http://aqicn.org/city/xingtai/

    http://aqicn.org/city/shijiazhuang/

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020