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Taking On Goliath
Various, Orion Online
Across the West, gas development is devastating land and people. Now citizens are fighting back.
Since the late 1990s, a wave of energy exploitation has accelerated across the American West. Much of it has taken the form of coal bed methane (CBM) development, which entails drilling many shallow, closely spaced gas wells across often vast territories, bringing industrialization to country that formerly was open and quiet, and to the people and creatures who live there.
Please read the Orion articles, delve into the issue with information provided here, and share your comments, ideas, and thoughts on America’s appetite for energy.
A Quirk in the Law by William deBuys
For a group of western ranchers, this land was their land – until the gas wells went in
Voices From the Gas Fields by Rebecca Clarren
Portraits and words from a community that believes it is being poisoned by the new gas boom.
The Coalition That Could by Rebecca Clarren
A diverse coalition in northern New Mexico has a real shot at the first major victory to protect land against the federal government and the gas industry. But they haven’t won yet.
A Troubled River Mirrors China’s Path to Modernity
Jim Yardley, NY Times
…The source of the Yellow River, itself the water source for 140 million people in a country of about 1.3 billion, is in crisis, as scientists warn that the glaciers and underground water system feeding the river are gravely threatened. For the rest of China, where the economy has evolved beyond trading rings for sheep, it is the latest burden for a river saturated with pollution and sucked dry by factories, growing cities and farming – with still more growth planned.
For centuries, the Yellow River symbolized the greatness and sorrows of China’s ancient civilization, as emperors equated controlling the river and taming its catastrophic floods with controlling China. Now, the river is a very different symbol – of the dire state of China’s limited resources at a time when the country’s soaring economic growth needs more of everything.
“The Yellow River flows through all these densely populated parts of northern China,” said Liu Shiyin, a scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “Without water in northern China, people can’t survive. And the economic development that has been going on cannot continue.”
China’s dynamic economic engine, still roaring at record levels, is at a corrosive crossroads. Pollution is widespread, and a nationwide construction spree, tainted by corruption, is threatening to overheat the economy. China’s leaders, worried about the unbridled growth, are trying to emphasize “sustainable development” even as questions remain about whether the party’s rank and file can carry out priorities like curbing pollution and conserving energy.
(19 Nov 2006)
China’s Environment Degraded to Dangerous Point: Official
Agence France Press via Common Dreams
The degradation of China’s environment is reaching a critical point where health and social stability are under threat, China’s top government official on the environment has said.
“In some places, environmental problems have affected people’s health and social stability, and damaged our international image,” Zhou Shengxian was quoted as saying in Monday’s China Daily.
Rapid industrialisation over the past two decades had transformed China into one of the world’s most polluted countries, with local governments and industries shunning ecological protection in the pursuit of short-term gains.
Zhou, the head of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), noted half the country’s rivers were severely polluted and a third of its territory was damaged by acid rain in an address to the annual meeting of China’s top environmental thinktank.
(13 Nov 2006)
Fred Hiatt, Washington Post
TOKYO — Japan has embarked on a path no developed nation has ever followed — of sustained and inexorable population decline.
Japan won’t be alone, of course. Italy, Russia, South Korea and many others also will get smaller. The United States is the exception among advanced nations, and not only thanks to immigration; its overall birth rate is higher, too.
But Japan, which shrank by about 21,000 last year, is in the forefront, and so everyone else will be watching. Does population decline inevitably sap vitality and doom a country to genteel poverty? Or is there some way out?
“Japan is the leader, so it’s important for Japan to show success,” says Hitoshi Suzuki, a cheerful senior researcher at Daiwa Institute of Research, who pronounces himself “not so worried” — so not worried, in fact, that last year he wrote “Population Decline is Not Something We Need to Fear.”
…As a result, Japan’s population, now about 128 million, is expected to fall to about 100 million by mid-century. Big deal, you might say. Wasn’t Japan happy enough 50 years ago, when it blew through the 100 million mark on the way up?
Yes, but it was a very different 100 million then. In 1965 there were 25 million children in Japan, 67 million people of working age and 6 million senior citizens. In 2050 there will be 11 million children, 54 million potential workers and 36 million people 65 and over. No one knows whether such a society can maintain a spirit of innovation, or how its capitalists will adapt to a shrinking market. There will potentially be a lot more dependents for every productive worker.
Faced with this prospect, a country could choose to fight (raise the birthrate) or cope (prepare to manage the consequences)
(20 Nov 2006)
While we have been focussed on peak oil, another peak has crept us on us: peak population. A number of countries seemed to have reached peak population, and the global population may peak this century according to some mainstream (non-doomer) predictions.
Let us hope that more countries follow Japan’s path in accepting peak population and managing the consequences. -BA