FILE PHOTO: Vehicles using lights travel on a bridge amid heavy smog after the city issued its first ever ”red alert” for air pollution, in Beijing, China, December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
China’s capital Beijing imposed stringent measures to curb output of heavy industry as plunging temperatures spurred heating demand.
This, after Beijing, issued its first major smog alert of the winter for the capital.
The orange alert issued on January 11, the second-highest on China’s four-level system, comes after Beijing was reported to have made big improvements in air quality last year as industrial activity shifted away from the capital.
The ministry of environmental protection warned in a statement that heavy air pollution would envelop Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and the surrounding area from Friday until January 17.
“I think it has greater impact on the lungs of old people and kids. For example, if an old person has chronic bronchitis, he [she] must react violently when he [she] come outside in the weather like this. about the kids, they are so little bodily still not fully developed, and that is why it has greater impact on them too,” said Yang Lilin, a local who works in Beijing.
The capital has been largely spared the notoriously bad air that typically blankets the north during the colder winter months when people crank up the heat in their homes in part to the government’s stringent anti-smog measures, including curbing factory output and banning coal burning in homes.
But this alert comes a month after the government was forced to reverse its ban on coal for heating as gas shortages left people freezing and after a prolonged bout of freezing weather across the north. — Reuters
Pro-Beijing supporters gathered at an upscale Hong Kong shopping mall to display the Chinese flag and chant slogans supporting the Hong Kong police on Thursday (September 12), before being heckled by pro-democracy protesters.
Demonstrators supporting Beijing sang the Chinese national anthem and “Ode to The Motherland” in a flashmob-style protest at the IFC mall in the morning. Video also showed them waving China’s national flags.
Pro-democracy protesters soon arrived and chanted “return to the mainland”.
Hong Kong residents had been gathering to sing a popular protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” at malls, football stadiums and on the streets in the past week. More peaceful pro-democracy protests are scheduled over the next few days alongside the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. (REUTERS)
Once home to rice farmers and their luscious green paddy fields, this Indonesian village is now a dump for truckloads of rubbish.
As Indonesia looks to tackle the country’s growing mountain of trash, the residents of East Java’s 200-hectare Bangun village have found a way to reel in profit from the problem — by opening their gates to garbage trucks and choosing to turn their fertile fields into rubbish sorting plots.
The health and environmental repercussions for Bangun village might be huge, said non-government organization, Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (ECOTON), which has been observing the issue in the area for the last five years.
Now, more than 60 percent of the village residents have opted to enter the rubbish sorting business, and for the time being, that looks unlikely to drop.
“If I’m farming, I need to wait three months to get results, but if I’m sorting rubbish, we can make money in a day, two days or even a week,” said one farmer, Siti Maimanah.
On average, a worker in Bangun can earn between $7-14 per week picking through the sea of paper and plastic, and that can rise to $35 if the piles are particularly high – a tempting proposition when the farming alternative would leave them waiting with nothing for weeks on weeks, said Maimanah.
Ecoton said it has obtained evidence that the garbage in the area is imported from at least 54 countries around the world, including Europe, the United States, Australia, and Asia, under the pretense it is ‘paper waste’. Reuters found plastic packaging amongst the piles, including from Canada and the United States.
That’s adding on top of the huge amount of garbage the world’s fourth-most populous country with 260 million people generates on its own.
Earlier this year, the city of Surabaya sent back more than 200 tonnes of trash to Australia and U.S. as part of efforts to push back ‘foreign trash’ amid a spike in imports from Western countries after China banned imports.
“Our country has been labeled a dirty country and now America is adding their rubbish on top. Sending this garbage is clearly a violation of the law,” said Ecoton’s protest coordinator, Prigi Arisandi, during a recent protest in front of the U.S. consulate in Indonesia’s second-biggest city, Surabaya.
The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has been struggling to cope with the waste, with much of it going into landfill and often eventually seeping out to pollute rivers and oceans. According to a 2015 study published in the Science journal, Indonesia was the world’s second-biggest contributor of plastic pollutants in the oceans.
The mountain of trash in Bangun village is also not going to vanish overnight despite the government’s efforts and plan to set up waste-to-energy plants across the country.
And for now, Indonesians like Maimanah say their day-to-day survival is far more important than the environment. (REUTERS)
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