China – the world's factory


Early this morning we drove home from Canowindra via the Coal Fired Power Stations at Wallerawang. At Mt Lambie, which overlooks the Power Stations, I stopped to straighten the vase of flowers on my friend Sonya’s grave. A storm must have blown it over. In 1992 we were working together at Prime Television and I remember how excited she was because she was about to go on an overseas trip. On her way home, a truck heavily laden with wool bales put an end to her dreams as it tipped its load onto her small car. We lost a beautiful beautiful young woman. At Sonya’s funeral we played her favourite song, James Taylor’s “Shower the People”. I still can’t sing it without crying.

Her death triggered the formation of the Highway Safety Action Group of NSW that same year and they erected this plaque for her.



How many lives could have been saved if the rail system had not been downgraded in favour of road transport? How many lives can we save if we stop building coal fired power stations?

With lots of

prompting from our “followship” (I’m sorry, I simply can’t bring myself to use the word leadership!)
many people seem to think that it doesn’t matter that Australians are the highest emitters of greenhouse gases  per capita in the world. They think it’s irrelevant, thanks to prompting, because China’s emissions are so high and set to grow dramatically higher. Ever thought of buying less to reduce the demand for products? In one fell swoop America and Australia could lower Chinese emissions by simply reducing our demand for more “stuff” to be made. 40% of China’s illegal logging from Siberia, for example, goes to make furniture for Ikea and Home Depot in America.

BEIJING – China said on Thursday it was unfair for rich countries to buy its cheap goods and then condemn its greenhouse gas pollution, a day after one study suggested the nation was already the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Western countries needed to consider his country’s role as a low-cost export powerhouse that in effect helps rich Western consumers avoid emissions at home.

China is now the factory of the world. Developed countries have transferred a lot of manufacturing to China. What many Western consumers wear, live in, even eat is made in China,” spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.

“On the one hand, you want to increase this production in China. On the other hand, you want to condemn China over the issue of emissions reductions. This is unfair.”

Well, back to the drawing board as I find ways to continue to lower my own emissions. On Thursday, coinciding with the news from China, I decided to tackle all the “difficult” lightbulbs that I still hadn’t replaced around the house. I’d hoped to replace these old “chandeliers” but had no luck finding a more appealing light fitting when I did the rounds of the secondhand/antique shops last week. Seeing as I’m stuck with them I managed to get compact fluorescent warm light bulbs in candle shapes through our local hardware shop. They were horrendously expensive (about $20 each) but what price do you put on your children’s futures?


For my political action I spent the day preparing background information to participate in The Big Switch

Greenpeace and nature conservation councils in each state have adopted a strategy to put pressure on high-profile MPs and MPs in marginal seats about their commitment to the issue of climate change.

Thirty “big switchers” – residents recruited to take part in the campaign … will … organise meetings with their federal MPs to discuss global warming policies.

Surveys were sent to all MPs in March asking them about their views on climate change, whether they bought green power and what kind of car they drove.

The Big Switch campaign includes a website explaining how to reduce emissions; a call for all political parties to support legislation that cuts greenhouse gas pollution by at least 30 per cent by 2020; and a push to get at least 500,000 people to sign an online pledge to reduce their emissions. (Wendy Frew, SMH)


On Friday, after dropping Climate Change kits and placards off for a student event at Wentworth Falls, we drove to Canowindra to open a Climate Change Exhibition at Taste Canowindra. This is a very contemporary and beautiful Gallery/Theatre Restaurant/Wine Cellar Door which had an inspiring collection of art. I talked about how it was one mother talking to me at the beach that led me to completely change the direction of my life to work on Global Warming. She could easily have decided she just wanted to relax and enjoy herself and not have made the effort to talk to me. But she didn’t. She chose to make the effort. Each one of us is like a domino that we urgently need to get standing. There are huge black holes between each domino. Some of us are shiny new plastic dominoes like me while others are beautiful worn wooden dominoes who’ve been working on the environment for years. It doesn’t matter though – as long as each domino is standing and we have enough close together. The point is that, to get our “followship” (internationally) to follow us, we have to get more dominoes standing. When the dominoes start to fall there need to be enough close together to keep the momentum going around the whole world.

For my personal actions:

• I FINALLY got Ian to teach me how to inflate the tyres on our car to the correct pressure. It was one of those things I knew I should do but for some reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. As usual, it was so much easier than I’d built it up to be. Tyre pressure is crucial for getting the maximum mileage out of your car so, especially on long drives like today, anything that will reduce fuel consumption is a good thing.

• I broke a lifetime habit of always collecting the free ‘bits’ in the Motel. Suddenly I’ve realised that little fiddly things consume so much more packaging. They are obviously extremely wasteful. Things like sugars, coffees and teas, shampoos and shower caps. Today I walked away empty handed and, of course, it’s much kinder to your hosts who don’t need to keep stocking up.


For my political action I also updated myself on information about a World Heritage Meeting in New Zealand today. The Blue Mountains World Heritage Listed National Park is being put up with 5 other key World Heritage sites as being IN DANGER because of global warming. Of the 6 sites in the world to be presented as IN DANGER, Australia has 2 – the Great Barrier Reef and the Blue Mountains National Park.

4 thoughts on “China – the world's factory

  1. susan

    When I was studing Conservation and Land Management my class did a tour of the Wallerawang Power Station especially in relationship to water systems and regardless of Carbon dioxide emmissions. What is involved is truely scary. The facts that :
    long wall mining cuts through aquifers and that water must be pumped out rather than enter the ecosystems naturally, and the waterways are suffering. The once healthy Farmer’s Creek is nothing more than a concrete drain dividing Lithgow – no plants, and certainly no fish;
    this underground mining which is creating earth movement, not only causing housing to collapse but also the sensitive Pagoda rock formations in the area;
    the cooling tower for the Power Station have changed the microclimate and weather pattern of the immediate surrounding area;
    the chemical emmissions both into the air and into the Cox’s River by way of Farmer’s Creek, may be within legal limits, but I sure wouldn’t want to eat any fish caught in the River. For anyone familiar with The Simpson’s cartoon the image of a three eyed fish, readily comes to mind.
    The condensation of these gas emissions may not be considered acid rain on a scale experienced in the Northern Hemisphere but still not neutral pH as it should be.

    My political action for this week will be to encourage Ms Rhiannon, Dr Kemp and Ms Hale who put the proposable to Parliment on 20th June that there should be an essential debate over the Anvil Hill Bill to stop the additional 529 M tonnes of CO2 which would be generatedby this mine over the next 21 years.

  2. Daharja

    It’s true what you say about China. I have been pointing this out for months now, since it occurred to me when shopping in the middle of summer.

    I think there’s a lot of racism tied in with the “it’s all right for us to pollute, but not the Chinese” attitude we seem to have here in Australia, to be honest. We grumble at the fact that everything is made in China, but we still buy heaps of manufactured, cheap goods from sweat shops over there, live our extravagant lifestyles, and whinge about others wanting to dip their hands in the cookie jar too.

    But it’s not just manufactured goods. I was at the supermarket yesterday, and actually spent the time to look on labels and learn where our food comes from. Most tinned and packaged goods are from China, South Africa, South America, and Asia. Even such basics as rice (Pakistan, India), tinned apricots (South Africa), tinned mandarins (China), most sauces (Asia), and juices (non-specific ‘imported’).

    If we’re headed for Peak Oil, Australia is at serious risk of starvation. I’m not joking. Even many of our fresh foods come from overseas – seafood from Asia, meat from America, cherries from the US, and so on.

    Whatever happened to ‘Australian made’? It seems these days the only thing we export is carbon dioxide!

  3. Kriyadhara

    I have been trying to avoid buying products from China for a number of years now. Many of the products that appear “cheap” are such poor quality that they will soon be on the landfill. “Landfill fodder” is all they are and that isn’t cheap in the long run. If we all make the effort to buy quality products from local producers – or if this is no longer possible, then choose a product from overseas that is quality through and through. Quality appliances are built to last for 20 years. Yes, they cost more initially, but we need to look at the real costs. The internet is an excellent tool here for doing the homework. It is worth it and you will feel all the better for making the effort and reducing your impact on our precious Earth.

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