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July 18th, 2008:

Steel Giant Helps To Clear The Skies

Al Guo – Updated on Jul 18, 2008 – SCMP

The Capital Steel Group has reaffirmed its long-standing promise to cut production during the Games in a well-orchestrated publicity move by Beijing authorities to show the world its efforts to provide athletes and visitors with a clear sky and cleaner air.

Group president Zhu Jimin said that its plant in the capital’s western suburbs would run at only 27 per cent capacity to help cut emissions.

“Shougang [the Chinese name of the company] is a group with a strong sense of social responsibility,” he said. “I’m happy we can do our part to help present a great Olympics.”

He said Shougang could afford to cut production temporarily.

“Our group had record profits in the first half of the year, and I believe our profit in the second half should still be all right after we resume production after the Olympics.”

The group posted net income of 5.26 billion yuan (HK$6.03 billion) in the first half of the year – much higher than last year’s total of 4.36 billion yuan.

The company has shut down three big plants this year, allowing only one to run while the Games are on. Full operations will resume after October 1. However, Shougang will move all its steel production to Caofeidian in neighbouring Hebei province by 2010.

Founded in 1919 in Beijing, the group has contributed dramatically to the economic development of the capital, but its emissions are thought to be one of the main causes of the city’s pollution problems.

Although it has invested billions in the past decade to upgrade its filtering systems, the group has been at the centre of criticism whenever Beijing’s air pollution problems are mentioned.

Some academic research suggests the group is responsible for a tenth of all air pollution in Beijing.

In a move co-ordinated by the State Council and authorities in Beijing and Hebei, the group began building a new base in Caofeidian, Tangshan , in 2005. A newly built plant with an annual production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes will start running by October 18.

G8 Emperors Fiddle As The Planet Burns

Updated on Jul 18, 2008 – SCMP

Legend tells us that the Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

It seems very little has changed if we judge by the verbiage emitted by the G8 summit in Hokkaido. The globe is facing a major ecological catastrophe, yet the little emperors who attended the meeting kept fiddling as usual.

Competent scientists warn us that we must quickly reduce carbon emissions, that is, reduce the burning of coal and oil and end the conversion of rainforests to commercial agriculture, especially to produce damaging biofuels.

The obvious conclusion is that an immediate cap must be placed on the extraction and consumption of coal and oil. Was this decided by the Hokkaido meeting?

President George W. Bush (a neo-Nero) supports the oil industry and is afraid to offend American gas-guzzlers indulged by the automobile and road-building industries.

The G8 countries maintain excessive military installations that burn huge amounts of fuel in warplanes, warships, tanks and war games every day. Was any effort made to reduce their wastefulness and ecological destruction?

Anyone who still believes that the world needs armies and navies to maintain peace is either stupid or has a vested interest. These outmoded institutions waste lives, pollute the earth and waste energy. If political leaders are really serious about the health of the planet, they will order immediate cuts in military expenditure and a curb on the waste of fuels by their armed forces.

In primitive times, military men were considered patriotic. With our globe approaching ecological collapse, it is now more patriotic to condemn the damage and wastefulness of militarism and to demand that politicians stop their fiddling while our world heats up.

If environmentally-conscious American and Chinese mothers told their children to look down on military men as big polluters and ecological Frankensteins, there would be some hope for our overheated globe.

Loving one’s country now means protecting it from the ecological damage caused by the ignorant and careless Neros of our age.

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po