May 29, 2020

In China Every Square Meter Counts

XINXIANG — The fields of Henan Province, one of the important centers of global wheat production, spread beyond this city’s high-rises, a prairie of dusky grain in every direction to the horizon. Every meter, every mu, a Chinese measurement of land expanse — 15 mu fit into an acre — is taken with ripening wheat. The harvest has begun. Workers cut stalks with long blades and haul the wheat out of the fields on their …

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Behind New Generation Mineral Leases: More Money, Less Hazards

CALDWELL, Ohio — The day before they received a $280,000 check for leasing their oil and gas development rights to Eclipse Energy, Arthur and Sharon Stottsberry stopped in Marietta to remind their attorney that they had almost an acre more to lease. I caught up with the Stottsberrys as they were leaving Jennifer Garrison’s office, as ebullient and keyed up as a retired senior couple from this part of southeastern Ohio is likely to get …

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U.S. Energy Boom Lifts Ohio’s Steel Industry: Latest New York Times Article

CANTON, Oh. – Orders for steel from domestic and export markets plunged so low in May 2009 that the Timken Company’s mill here on Faircrest Street operated for just four days that month. Nearly three years later, with demand for steel soaring and the Faircrest mill operating around the clock, Timken started construction in early March on a $200 million, 83,000-square-foot addition to boost the plant’s production. Just as Ohio’s presidential election has accurately predicted …

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The Global Fossil Energy Boom: Perspective From China

All those natural gas wells that are popping up by the thousands across the United States — they’re starting to appear in China, too. The global fossil energy boom, which in China has mostly meant soaring production of coal, is now beginning to include natural gas. And American and European multinationals are providing financing, equipment, and technical assistance. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that China’s recoverable shale gas resources total 36 trillion cubic meters, …

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Energy, Food and Melting Ice

I read with interest the interviews with Bill McKibben and Amory Lovins that Yale Environment 360 posted today and in February. Good stuff. Perplexing and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Amory’s optimism about the prospects for clean energy, in its consistency over the last 30 years, reminds me of Lester Brown’s equally long-term pessimism about the world’s capacity to feed itself. Both have the technical details in place to make plausible cases but the …

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Ohio’s Fossil Fuel Boom Dims Wind and Solar Development

The story of American energy used to be we use too much. There’s not enough. And a technical breakthrough in clean alternatives will save us. How 20th century. The new narrative – really, it’s true — of American energy is this: We’re using less. A national boom in oil and gas production, engulfing 12 states from California to Pennsylvania and North Dakota to Texas, is showing we have much more than we thought. And the …

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A Civic Pact: Owensboro’s Next Development Strategy

The privilege to spend six months studying an American community is rare in journalism. Nevertheless that was the assignment from Citistates last spring. Immerse yourself in Owensboro, Kentucky and emerge with a clear sense of where the community is, and where it might consider going in the 21st century. Last week, in a series of public events, Citistates described the findings in What’s Done, What’s Next: A Civic Pact. The project found a number of …

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Manila On 9/11

MANILA — The sun rose here to another towering and impressive Asian skyline. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, while the world joins the United States in honoring a terrifying moment, I see skylines here and in China that describe in clear line and form just how far that day blasted us off course. One measure is the scant alterations in the skylines of big American cities in the last decade. Another is that in …

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Charleston’s Newest Growth Dispute in the New York Times

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Under powder blue skies in mid-March, a small crowd of local leaders gathered on Union Pier to formally announce a $2.4 million contract to design a new maritime gateway to this beautiful coastal city. I lived in Charleston from February 1980 to September 1983, writing for The News and Courier, the local newspaper, and contributing as a freelance to Time Magazine, Southern Magazine, The New York Times, and other publications. Last month …

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Shanghai is Blade Runner City

SHANGHAI, China – Cascades of light, like shimmering waterfalls, tumble down the sides of spiral skyscrapers here in what a friend described as China’s blade runner city. Highways are elevated, lit underneath at night in blacklight blue. A maglev train, the first in the world, speeds at 250 miles per hour to the glass and steel expanse of the international airport, which gathers the train in the folds of its white wings. It’s easy as …

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