Monday, November 15, 2010

Three China science & technology news stories

Skimming through my reader this morning, I came across three China stories in PhysOrg. The first one tells us that China has the world's fastest super computer:
Tianhe-1, meaning Milky Way, achieved a computing speed of 2,570 trillion calculations per second, earning it the number one spot in the Top 500 ( survey of supercomputers.

The Jaguar computer at a US government facility in Tennessee, which had held the top spot, was ranked second with a speed of 1,750 trillion calculations per second.

The United States still dominates, with more than half of the entries in the Top 500 list, but China now boasts 42 systems in the rankings, putting it ahead of Japan, France, Germany and Britain.
That the Tianhe-1 uses mostly US-made parts is (I imagine) cold comfort.

In another news article, it was made clear (yet again) that China's environmental impact is getting larger. I wrote two years ago about a report saying that China surpassed the US in being the world's largest CO2 emitter. This story talks about how an increasing level of consumerism is increasing China's ecological footprint:

Demand for construction, transport, goods and public services are the key factors behind ballooning carbon emissions, the World Wildlife Fund said in its annual "China Ecological Footprint" report.

Carbon emissions accounted for 54 percent of China's ecological footprint in 2007 and the country needed more than two times its own biologically productive land area to meet demand for resources and to absorb emissions, it said.

The paper, released in conjunction with the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, a government-backed advisory body, was based on 2007 data.
If the numbers were based on 2007 data, one can only imagine what has happened in the succeeding 3 years, what with a still-increasing GDP (fueling consumption and growth), and considering how, too, their CO2 emission figures for 2008 looked like.

Of course, along with an increased amount of consumerism and a Western lifestyle, China is now the country with the greatest number of diabetic people:
China has the highest number of diabetics in the world with 92.4 million with the condition, but 61 percent of them do not know they have the disease, state media reported Monday.

China's economic growth has led to increased health problems linked to the richer diets and more sedentary lifestyles of an emerging middle class.

Since China's economic boom went into high gear in the 1980s, millions of people have left the countryside for jobs in cities -- ditching bicycles for cars and embracing aspects of Western living such as fast food.
The article doesn't say if the diabetes increase is of type1 or type2, but I am assuming that it is type2, since this is the form that has a greater environmental component to incidence, and also because the state-run China Daily also ran a story about this, citing type2 diabetes. (Interestingly, in another anecdotal example of India-China rivalry, the Times of India ran a story that cited India as having the most diabetics, with China a close second.)

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