China’s Economic Growth & Environmental Issues

China's Economic growth comes at an expense, the environment. The original yellow color of the Yangtze River just recently turned into red.  A recent Slashdot article got my attention, and made me wonder a couple of things.

"The Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world traditionally known as the 'golden watercourse,' mysteriously blushed for the first time on Sept. 6. Residents in the surrounding area near the city of Chongqing, where the Yangtze connects to the Jialin River, literally stopped in their tracks when they noticed their once golden river had turned a shocking shade of red. Residents have carefully crept down to the riverbanks for the past few days to save some of the red, tomato juice-like river water in bottles. Early predictions from scientists say the red water was likely a result of pollution, but investigators are still investigating the unknown cause."

When discussing the issue with one of my colleagues, who is from China, it's most probably the pollution, as there are a lot of factories and industry along the Yangze River. The air in Beijing is getting worse with the economic expansion, as the majority of the energy is derived from coal. Beijing is directly located next to a province where the majority of China's coal is being dug out of the ground.

This made me wonder; How much of China's economic growth would disappear if the factories would be subject of the same strict environmental rules and regulations as factories in the West? In particular comparing with the rules and regulations in Europe! The US is not as environmentally friendly as the EU, but still pays more attention to the impact producing industry can have on the environment. The US government didn't even signed the Kyoto treatment, which is still a painful testament the US is only environmental when it is in their favor. The commercials around tar-sands and coal , to become energy independent are not taking the environmental implication into account!

What will the impact of the pollution in the Yangze river be on the living standard of the Chinese people living along the river banks. What is the impact on the fish being caught in the river. This could very well have a large long term effect on China, just for some short term economic gains.

From the original article:

Even though the water doesn't look too safe, the new beet-red color of the river didn't stop people from going about their business. According to the Daily Mail, workers who rely on the Yangtze as their main source of income, including fishermen, continued about their daily work as if nothing were unusual.

The Yangtze River flows through a wide array of ecosystems and is itself habitat to several endemic and endangered species including the Chinese alligator and the Yangtze sturgeon. For thousands of years, people have used the river for water, irrigation, sanitation, transportation, industry, boundary-marking and war.

Only time will tell what the long term effects of this pollution will be, not only to China, but to the world, as the river flows into the sea! And then it's already too late...

Makes me sad...I would like to leave a world for my kids to enjoy, which is why I consider to buy less plastic cheap crap toys made in China, more local toys made out of wood and durable, environmentally friendly produced components.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Article, cross posted from G+: here

Do You Really Need Obama Grants

A couple of months ago I wrote about a specific Ad I saw matched on my site through Google Adsense. The Ad was about getting free money from President Obama. The whole site the ad was linking to was obviously a scam, where I was just surprised Google will allow these sites to advertise.

However, now months later, this post has received the most comments than any other post. And quite interesting, people start to ask me for help, as I have a direct line to Mister Obama himself.

Some are heartbreaking, as it clearly shows these people need money to get by

Hello. If Mr. Barak Obama can see this, I would like to tell you that my da is very upset because the house we live in for rent is now on for sale but we had bad credit and then after many days we got mortgage from quicken loans....

....i need help with my bill and to get my kids some cloth and shoe for my kids can go to school i don’t have no help at all all i been ask for help for all time and i don’t no help with my kids in 6 years....please i’m cry for dis help please let me be happy for the first time in life please Obama you no how it feel when you get kids and no help at all i’m just like you have all three girls...

...Im a single mother with four children at the age of 15, 13 12 and 10 years. Earning 200 US$ per forthnight. This is not enough to cater for economic spendings....

Unfortunately I don't know exactly where to file for one of the special Grants. The best I could find were these three sites, but the information on the government websites is not very helpful on how to actually apply for such a grant.

You might want to look at the following three sites that potentially would be able to give you more information on how and when you apply to get any government stimulus package:
1) IRS.gov/stimuluspackage
2) Recovery.gov
3) Grants.gov

Good luck you all...

General Motors on the cliff looking down

What do you think, give more money to General Motors, or let it default? Defaulting a company like GM would mean a huge jump in unemployment of people in the area of Detroit. It will be devastating for the families involved.

With the stock at a multi year low, and the market cap under $1 billion, I doubt this company will see it's turn around. Even if the recovery plan would succeed.

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On February 17 this year, GM submitted a restructuring plan to save the company. Here are the highlights:

    • GM’s Plan details a return to sustainable profitability in 24 months
    • GM is comprehensively transforming its business, globally
    • GM’s Plan emphasizes the Company’s continued focus on great products
    • GM’s Plan calls for considerable sacrifice from all stakeholders
    • GM’s Plan addresses the requirements of the loan agreement with the United
      States Department of the Treasury
    • Reflecting further deterioration in economic, industry and credit markets since
      December 2, GM’s Plan details need for additional Federal funding
    • General Motors is vital to a robust U.S. economy, and a revitalized GM will
      greatly advance America’s technology leadership and energy independence

It seems GM is not even getting the chance to execute on this plan. With the stock price close to becoming a penny stock, there seems not much room for balance sheet restructuring, and more so enough time to restructure workforce, brand portfolio, and more important product innovation.

With the economy in a recession, I wonder how the hell these investigators ever though to bring GM back to profitability when no consumers are buying cars. For the last couple of years, GM has not been able to make any profit, so why would they think they can turn this around within 24 months from now, while they have failed for so many months before?

Just take a look at all the red below here. For the last 3 years GM has been loosing money:

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The real impact of GM filing for bankruptcy is not so much the loss of the GM business and all the employment directly involved. The corporations who are suppliers to the automobile industry are at stake as well.

As outlined in the plan:

The automotive industry has been the backbone of U.S. manufacturing and a leading
investor in research and development for nearly a century. It is a significant factor in the U.S. economy, employing 1 in 10 workers and a major purchaser of U.S.-made steel,
aluminum, iron, glass, plastics and electronics. It is an industry undergoing massive
change, and one that can be key to both transforming the U.S. economy and creating
high-tech,  "green" jobs that support a healthy and growing middle class.

Who is to blame?

From every side I hear different reasons why GM is in trouble. Everything and everybody is to blame, except for GM. You hear excuses like: "It all started with the housing market", "Consumers are not buying new cars", "Consumers prefer non-American cars".

I just saw a congress man on CNBC claiming that the best auto engineers of the world are located in Detroit, with the best hybrid cars being manufactured in Detroit. At that point I was thinking: "I want to have what he's been smoking". The bull shit that is being broadcasted is just unbelievable. Why do you think GM is not selling any cars? Why do you think people prefer non-American cars?

Let's be real, if American consumers would like the Detroit products, they would have been buying the cars for years. The American car manufacturing industry has been in trouble for years!

There is a don't blame me, blame the economy climate with the people whose heads are on the chopping block. It's time to face the music...

In the last six months of 2008, housing price declines accelerated, foreclosures rose,
credit markets froze, job losses skyrocketed, and consumer confidence tumbled. As the
economic crisis intensified, automotive sales fell to their lowest per-capita levels in half a
century, putting automakers under enormous financial stress. All automotive
manufacturers have been severely affected, with most reporting significant losses in the
recent quarter. Under these extraordinary conditions, GM‘s liquidity fell rapidly to levels
below those needed to operate the Company, and GM was compelled to turn to the U.S.
Government for assistance.

Clearly, the high paid consultants who worked on this restructuring report for GM have miscalculated the economy in a big way. They forecasted the US GDP decline for the month of February at only -2%, while it is rather -6% -  -7% ! Ouch..!

I cannot seem to ignore the fact that this restructuring report has been drafted to secure the first two government grants General Motors received. Just think about it, what would happen to the jobs of the overpriced consultants and strategy makers at GM if the company would fault? Right, they would be out of a job as well.

The incentive to propose unreal restructuring plans to buy a couple of months of time, paid on tax payers money, is pretty big.

GM end of more than 100 years car manufacturing

End of GM

If GM would default, great brands are going under. Currently GM is producing the following brands:

  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • GMC
  • HUMMER
  • Pontiac
  • Saab
  • Saturn

I'm especially crazy about the big Cadillac's from years ago. Once I almost bought a 1980 Cadillac El Dorado. Boy, Am I happy I didn't at the time, because it would have cost me great amounts of money every week to fill up the tank with gasoline.

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A lot of people asking if the government should support GM with even more money now. It seems that that money is spend better somewhere else. Why would GM be able to turn their business around right now using the money.

What do you think, should General Motors be saved with even more government, or better said, tax money?