Better not to run a marathon with these running shoes

Quality issues in China can be both puzzling and disappointing.

Puzzling because it is hard to believe a brand like ASICS has such poor quality. I bought those in an “official shop” in Beijing but one can wonder: are they real or fake?

The model, here pictured, is ASICS TN238, “Made in China”. Fortunately I use those exclusively in the gym. The sole parts have been falling of several times. As it happened in the gym I was able to find them and glue them back myself. See here the latest one to fall of. Seems the glue they used must have a serious quality problem. Otherwise the running shoes are fine.

Now just imagine you are running a race with those, like a marathon. That would be a near disaster.

The impact of Global Warming: the Arctic and a Swiss village

The article Arctic ice melt an ‘economic time bomb’, 26 July 2013 – The Guardian – is one of the telling indicators.
Scientists say rapid melting of summer sea ice in the Arctic may release a “pulse” of methane, with dire implications for the global economy. See the full text:
Says the article:
“ … the release of a single giant “pulse” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea “could come with a US$60 trillion global price tag”, according to the researchers who have for the first time quantified the effects on the global economy. Even the slow emission of a much smaller proportion of the vast quantities of methane locked up in the Arctic permafrost and offshore waters could trigger catastrophic climate change and “steep” economic losses, according to the study published in the journal Nature. The Arctic sea ice, which largely melts and reforms each year, is declining at an unprecedented rate. In 2013, it collapsed to under 3.5 million square kilometres by mid September, just 40 per cent of its usual extent in the 1970s. Because the ice is also losing its thickness, some scientists expect the Arctic to be largely free of summer ice by 2020.”
In my book Toxic Capitalism, published last year, this issue was already mentioned as one of the major threats to our climate. This is just a confirmation.
Another impact mentioned in my book comes out again: see what is happening in places like Switzerland. Still, people, blinded by ignorance, refuse to admit what is going on.
See: Grindelwald Journal – As Glaciers Melt, Alpine Mountains Lose Their Glue, Threatening Swiss Village, article by Jogn Tagliabue, New York Times, published: 29 May 2013:
Mountaineers are witness to the changes and fear the consequences when climbing.

Chinese herbs contaminated by pesticides

Now, in the saga that you can’t trust anything anymore that you eat and drink
in China, this story is very disturbing:
Traditional Chinese herbs are being contaminated with a toxic cocktail of pesticides that poses a threat to health and the environment, Greenpeace said. Its tests revealed that up to 48 of 65 samples purchased from nine pharmacies tested positive for pesticide residue, including banned substances. Some residue levels were hundreds of times higher than EU food safety standards, Greenpeace East Asia reported. The group found 51 different types of pesticide residue, and 26 of the samples contained pesticides that are banned in China. The samples included some from renowned producers such as Tongrentang, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company founded in 1669 and the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine. “Chinese herbs should heal, not harm people and must be pesticide free,” said Wang Jing of Greenpeace East Asia. “The current industrial agriculture system is heavily reliant on toxic chemicals at the expense of human and environmental health,” Wang said.
Dried sanqi flowers contained up to 39 kinds of pesticide, chrysanthemum up to 35 and honeysuckle flowers up to 21. Ten pesticides classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as extremely or highly hazardous and six banned for use on Chinese herbs were found. Even leading traditional Chinese medicine makers don’t set standards or carry out tests for pesticide residue, Greenpeace claimed. Pesticide abuse in herb growing is only part of much bigger problem, which was the general failure of chemical-intensive agriculture to feed people safely while preventing environmental degradation, Greenpeace concluded, as reported in the Shanghai Daily.
(Source: FCCC Newsletter No 323, 1 July 2013)
Bad news for all of us. I do actually use TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) on a regular base and recently I have been drinking chrysanthemum tea. What can we still trust here?

CFL in China: the good and bad

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) can help you save money, use less energy, reduce light bulb changes, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate change.
In China they have become very popular and now the old type light bulbs are disappearing at a fast pace.
However we face here a serious problem, the same as for the batteries, printer and copier cartridges: there is virtually nothing in place for safe recycling. Most people simply put it all in the trash with considerable dangers for the environment.
Worse, in case a CFP breaks do expect our Chinese friends (especially the maids) to do everything they should NOT do. Reason: mercury poisoning. One more item on the list of ignorance here. What is the government doing about it? Nothing.
Ever seen a collection point in supermarkets for used batteries and CFL? Obviously never I guess.
Read more:
Being green and protecting the environment is often done in the wrong way – CFLs and electric bikes are some of the (bad) examples. This is also mentioned in my book Toxic Capitalism.

Man Invents Machine To Convert Plastic Into Oil

As discussed in my book, we waste tons of plastics that pollute our soil, the rivers, lakes and oceans. The problem is that those plastics now enter the food chain (enjoy your fish!) but also use oil. See here two slides of my book presentation, talking about plastics in a dead albatross and more.

But some people show the way – there are solutions, not only to waste less but to recycle.
In an efficient and safe effort to save us from the ill-effects of plastic waste, Akinori Ito has developed a machine which converts plastic back into oil.
See the clip in Japanese with English subtitles.
The machine produced in various sizes, for both industrial and home uses, can easily transform a kilogram of plastic waste into a liter of oil, using about 1 kWh of electricity but without emitting CO2 in the process. The machine uses a temperature controlling electric heater instead of flames, processing anything from polyethylene or polystyrene to polypropylene (numbers 2-4).  Comment: 1 kg of plastic produces one liter of oil, which costs $1.50. This process uses only about 1 kWh of electricity, which costs less than 20 cents! (as mentioned on flixxy)

Are electric cars green? Some disagree

See the article “Don’t kid yourself that electric taxis are green” by Tom Holland in SCMP:
I do not fully agree with Tom Holland but he does raise some valid points. We need indeed to look at the global ecological footprint. But saying no to e-vehicles is wrong.
Their technology needs to improve and most important is to tackle the batteries. In the case of e-bikes in China, those are actually not green at all, because of the lead acid batteries. Lithium batteries are also still needing a better approach. As for the energy mix and the promotion of e-vehicles, read “Toxic Capitalism”: contrary to what most believe China is making serious efforts to increase the use of non-coal/oil based power stations, with renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear, etc. (leaving aside the issue of nuclear here). Trying to demonstrate a diesel or gasoline car is better is like trying to say, wind turbines and solar are bad. I personally and officially recommended the use of e-vehicles for the city of Beijing in the 12th Five Year Plan; the recommendation followed, except for some further incentives I had listed.

NYT article shows the extent of e-waste in the USA

“Where Do Old Cellphones Go to Die?”
Published: May 4, 2013
See the article:

“Americans replace their cellphones every 22 months, junking some 150 million old phones in 2010 alone. Ever wondered what happens to all these old phones? The answer isn’t pretty.”
Indeed, not pretty as I explain in my book Toxic capitalism. A lot of the e-waste ends up in China, with the dramatic impact on the health of the people involved in recycling, Chinese way, hence the “cancer villages”. The cover of my book shows the arrival yard of e-waste in a Beijing factory, one of the few that handles e-waste correctly.
I always try to buy “top of the line” electronics, so I can use them much longer than normally. I had a mobile that I used for at least five years (twice repaired). My old iMac, reaching ten years is still doing a good job for some of the software – even better than my now 3-year old MacBook Pro.
The article in the NYT also shows some frightening statistics about how many tons of e-waste is generated (computers, monitors, TV, printers and so on):

We should stop this madness.

Pinocchio has arrived in Beijing

And his nose is growing sooooo large.
China Daily reported that Beijing has hit its “blue-sky target” of 266 days ahead of time. We wonder, what is the definition again? I think the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center is:
– color blind
– denies factual findings that only naive idiots ignore (including a number of foreigners)
– follows the official line that orders to systematically deny any problem of whatever nature in this country (bleached mushrooms, pork full of antibiotics,
milk with you-know-what, corruption by officials in land deals, name it.); till the Internet forces them to swallow some of their words.
I chose, all of the above.
This year has seen till now an astonishing degradation of the air quality that leaves in the dust (literally) the short-term progress of 2008. The situation is actually hopeless. Traffic is mostly to blame. As soon as the wind stops, pollution shoots up to levels of 150 to 300 AQI.
Check it out on Twitter.
La morale de l’histoire: Chinese government officials cannot be trusted, but even Chinese know that. They say, “You can’t even trust the weather report!”
How true indeed.

And those poor Hong Kong people are worried about their air. Can I have some of it over there?

Crazy Bad: humor from the U.S. Embassy

The past days in Beijing have seen horrendous air quality. The Beijing dinosaurs don’t comment on it, in other civilized cities schools would be closed plus other measures. Here, all continues. I saw people jogging in that toxic smog but as they were Chinese it does not matter, according to local doctors only foreigners with their fragile lungs are being impacted. Chinese spit it all out on the spot with a big roar. No problems for them they say.

Authorities are “not able to explain”. You don’t need too, it’s simple – no wind, traffic jams caused by millions of uncivilized morons who all think they own the road and the winter heating being switched on. And no acid rain to clear it up.

With all our misery BeijingAir posted Crazy Bad, Beyond Index, Hazardous as the variations. At least they made me laugh and I quickly switched on my air purifier.

Hong Kong versus Beijing air

The Air Pollution Index in Hong Kong “reached very high levels”. That means for them, above 100. Lucky people. Here in Beijing the Environmental Protection Bureau shows their distorted figures of under 100 for the API – Twitter shows AQI of far above 100 with peaks of over 200. As for today (6 November), it’s worse – levels of over 200 and getting close to 300. Pollution in Beijing has been this year pretty bad. I started again to cough and I hear everywhere people coughing. I have not been able yet to restart serious running (in the gym, of course). The air irritates my lungs. My cough is always dry and very irritating. Whatever cough medicine I take does not seem to help much (I have chronic bronchitis thanks to the local air pollution and running marathons).

Beijing continues to hide the truth about its horrible air. Some foreigners also wonder why people like me make a fuss. Just wait till you get older and then you’ll know (too late). Ignorance is nice till…

Some days ago I gave a presentation about the Beijing air, refuting the lies from the authorities.

Some weeks ago my daughter in the USA was alarmed the AQI was locally at 80. I sign a contract at once to have that quality every day.