The People's Republic of Chemicals

The People's Republic of Chemicals

Chip Jacobs

Language: English

Pages: 280

ISBN: 1940207258

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs follow up their acclaimed Smogtown with a provocative look at China's ecological calamity, which makes Los Angeles' air pollution crisis of yesteryear seem like an easy-breathing dream. Toxic smog most figured was obsolete needlessly kills as many people there daily as the 9/11 attacks, while huge plumes of Asian contaminants ride the jet stream to rain down ozone and mercury on the American West Coast. In vivid prose blending first-person reportage with exhaustive research and a sense of karma, Kelly and Jacobs describe China's ancient love affair with coal, and how the Clinton Administration's push to bring China into the World Trade Organization accelerated the outsourcing of millions of factory jobs in another sucker punch to the U.S. middle class. They explore officials' manipulation of Beijing's eco-statistics, the horror of China's "e-waste" and "Cancer" villages, the deception of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and spellbinding peasant revolts against disease-spreading plants that state censors often muffle. Ending with a profile of China's gargantuan coal-bases, which climatologists decry as a global warming dagger, The People's Republic of Chemicals names names and emphasizes humanity over bloodless propaganda. 













Chinese smokestacks. When acid rain drenches rivers and lakes, falling pH levels can kill or hamper the breeding of aquatic life. Absorbed into the ground, sulfates can delay the natural decomposition of dead animals, overloading the land with so many chemicals that soil overhardens, reducing fertility. Some of it later flakes into rivers, causing secondary pollution in another rabbit punch to the ecosystem. Farmers detest it. Aluminum ions that build up in the soil impede plant root systems.

remained in the “good” category as the pressure built to push the emergency button. But good was not enough with the Games around the corner. Near midnight on July 28, a succession of dull booms exploded over the city for about half an hour. It wasn’t organic thunder. It was the Bureau of Weather Modification shooting its load, or, in this case, specialized artillery shells filled with silver iodide, dry ice, salts, and/or other materials. Warheads had detonated inside the clouds with the aim

made—and this is what it bought? Peking and Oregon State University researchers, along with the Associated Press, the BBC, and Beijing’s own Environmental Protection Bureau, each reported that pollution levels from August 8–24, to varying degrees, exceeded WHO recommendations the Chinese had so vehemently sworn to attain. Never mind those continual sunny days. Fine particulates broke international standards every second, the joint-university study determined. A MEP official attributed whatever

cigarettes. Greetings from China’s Chernobyl, a tongue-in-cheek allusion to the catastrophic 1986 nuclear-plant meltdown in the former Soviet Union that released 400 times more radioactive material than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The World Bank during the 2000s embedded Linfen along with sixteen Chinese cities on its list of the globe’s twenty most contaminated towns. Just by themselves, Linfen’s carbon emissions were enough for the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based

perfectly suited to meet the growing American appetite for low prices by remaking China into a titanic company assembly line. Roughly 30,000 Chinese factories whip out seventy percent of everything on its shelves. Every second of every day, 300 people are buying something at Walmart’s approximate 9,000 stores worldwide. But operating in China was getting hairier, as environmentalists pressed Walmart to decontaminate its operations. When the retailer announced in 2005 that it intended to be the

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