They solved for the equilibrium, China equilibrium of the day

China will be less severe with its smog curbs this winter as it grapples with slower economic growth and a trade war with the United States, according to a government plan released on Thursday.

Instead of imposing blanket bans on industrial production in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area as it did last winter, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said it would let steel plants continue production as long as their emissions met standards.

Targets for overall emissions cuts have also been revised down. In the next six months, 28 cities in northern China are required to cut levels of PM2.5 – the tiny airborne particles that are most harmful to human health – by about 3 per cent from a year ago.

That is less than the 5 per cent cut proposed in an initial plan seen by the South China Morning Post last month.

Meanwhile, the new plan stipulates that the number of days of severe air pollution should be reduced by about 3 per cent, also revised down from 5 per cent in last month’s draft.

Here is more from Orange Wang at SCMP.  As I am sure you all know, air pollution (and I don’t just mean carbon emissions) is one of the great underrated problems in the world today.  The trade war with China is making it worse.


Rather than slower economic growth I think the bigger challenge with the clean air initiative was lack of supply of natural gas last winter due to logistical bottlenecks. Prices spiked and there were lots of industries that had to shut in due to lack of supply. Eventually this issue will be resolved though, as more LNG comes on the market, for instance Shell just approved a big LNG project in Canada. I assume we will see less US LNG though due to trade wars but the rest of the world can certainly make up the difference.

Id say the worst problem China faces with regard to pollution is corruption. Here is, i think, a worthwhile take on the problem:

Start at about 8:30 to skip to the heart of it.

MOFO - you may be right but I am not going to waste my time by going to a Youtube video which is an incredibly clunky way to convey information. I suggest you summarize the data in a written post, or provide a link to a written source.

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'and I don’t just mean carbon emissions'

When talking about very fine particulate matter, most of those particles are related to the combustion of carbon - 'The major components of PM include metals, organic compounds (measured as organic carbon [OC]) including materials of biological origin, inorganic carbonaceous material (including black carbon [BC] and elemental carbon [EC]), and sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, and other ions. The sources and composition of larger particles generally differ from those of smaller particles: coarse PM (particles 2.5–10 µm in diameter) consists in large part of insoluble crust- derived minerals, biological material (such as pollen, endotoxins, fungi, and bacteria), and sea salts. By contrast, PM2.5—which includes the ultrafine fraction—is derived mainly from combustion-related sources. PM2.5 includes particles with a carbon core (with attached hydrocarbons and metals), hydrocarbons, and secondary particles formed from oxides of sulfur and nitrogen. In addition to PM, ambient air also contains a range of gaseous pollutants (e.g., ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides) that are derived from some of the same sources as PM. Gaseous pollutants have health effects of their own and may act in concert with PM to cause health effects. Any consideration of the health effects of different components and sources of PM must consider how gaseous pollutants may affect the toxicity of PM constituents.'

Basically, there is not all that much air pollution not related to carbon, as noted in that article - 'Ambient particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in air. The size, chemical composition, and other physical and biological properties of particles vary with location and time. This variability in pollutant levels derives from differences in pollutant sources. The sources may be natural, such as forest fires, or the result of human activities, such as driving vehicles and operating manufacturing or power plants.' One can safely assume that manufacturing plants involves steel production to a major degree, which involves a major amount of carbon, in the form of coke. These people are more than happy to explain how that works -

non sequitur

Or an attempt, by pointing out that basically much (and essentially all PM2.5 air pollution), is due to carbon emissions.

Leading one to wonder what other air pollution, apart from carbon (related) emissions, Prof. Cowen could possibly be referring to.

You are more than welcome to make your own best guess, as I personally have no idea what significant source of air pollution that Prof. Cowen could be referring to when he writes - 'and I don’t just mean carbon emissions.' With a bit of information to illustrate just how much air pollution is related to carbon emissions.

(And as I have just lit my wood stove this morning for the first time this heating season, I too am generating carbon/PM emissions, though since the stove is compliant to recent German standards - multi-vent, with air recirculation to decrease PM by further combustion - it generates less than an older model. I am taking Prof. Cowen, a man who believes in AGW, at face value when he writes about carbon emissions, and not CO2. It is combustion of carbon that is the basic problem, not whether fossil fuels are used.)

Where do you get your firewood? I seem to recall that in Germany one can “harvest” (read: pick up) sticks, etc., from the forests. Or do you use some kind of compressed wood product? (I get my firewood from my own small-ish, 10 acres, heavily forested land in the Pacific Northwest.)

I am no fan of Trump's trade wars, but should we really take a Chinese government report at its word that Trump is to blame for more lax air pollution rules?

We have no idea whether these policies would be different absent Trump. Having an external cause to point to is sure convenient, though. Bureaucrats and politicians (whether in a corrupt autocracy or not) will hardly ever pass up the chance to shift the blame to someone else.

Also, only the first reported item is actually "getting worse". The second is a more stringent requirement, just lower than what was initially proposed.

I don't think that's the point that was being made.

In the past few years China has been shifting from "growth at any cost" to quality growth, with more emphasis on strategic industries, quality of life, etc. Pollution reduction targets were part of that. Now the trade war is forcing them to take steps back in the direction of growth at any cost.

But even if it were stating that "Trump is to blame", it seems to me like a good thing. A rival in a global competition is feeling the pain - who wouldn't want to take the blame for that?

China decides to save money and allow more pollution; China blames Trump for this; and Tyler is ALL OVER IT.

Wait a minute, are you supposed to believe in air pollution at all?

You go down that road, you might start to think an Environmental Protection Agency is necessary!

Who am I to call Nixon a liar? /jk

"The ministry did not say why it was taking a much softer line in the fight against pollution."

"China will be less severe with its smog curbs this winter as it grapples with slower economic growth and a trade war with the United States..."

1) There is no trade war - not yet. Just a flesh wound.

2) Here is the slower growth that China is grappling with:

2012 - 8%
2013 - 8%
2014 - 7%
2015 - 7%
2016 - 7%
2017 - 7%
2018 - 7% (first half)

Even if China did not have a reputation for massaging numbers, the monotonic steadiness of that sequence should give one pause...

Wait a min. If there's indeed a trade war and China steel exports are impacted, the steel plants should be producing at a slower rate, emitting less pollution.

This should also apply for other industries: less manufacturing yields less pollution. It seems like the Ministry of Ecology and Environment does not want to be blamed for slower production rates.

This was my thought too. How can the deadweight loss caused by tariffs lead to incentives for *more* production?

Lord, this TDS is boring. Thank goodness the blog has lots of links, because the native content has declined unbearably.

Ha! There couldn’t possibly be a writer named Orange Wang; must be a pseudonym making fun of Trump.

That google thing is going to be really big.

'Orange Wang covers the Chinese macroeconomy, and has many years of experience with China's monetary and fiscal policy moves. He also covered global market and financial news for a long time, with a particular focus on new technologies and their influences on economic growth and society. Before joining the South China Morning Post, Orange worked as a Shanghai Correspondent for ET Net, a Hong Kong financial news agency.'

Maybe we need a new term, something along the lines of Trump Fixation Syndrome. Billions of people seem immune to it, nonetheless there are probably enough people exhibiting this affliction to make some broad judgments concerning those suffering from it. Obviously, it can also be found in combination with other conditions, such as TDS.

Next thing you’ll tell me that he offers penetrating analysis and he gets low down grabby at times.

The only thing I know about him is the bio blurb from the SCMP.

But really, bet on that google thing - it is going to be really big.

>air pollution (and I don’t just mean carbon emissions)

Well I would hope not, as carbon is not a pollutant.

Carbon most certainly is, particularly fine particles. CO2 is not reasonably a pollutant in the sense that carbon and related byproducts of combustion can be. To repeat the information from above - '...PM2.5—which includes the ultrafine fraction—is derived mainly from combustion-related sources. PM2.5 includes particles with a carbon core (with attached hydrocarbons and metals), hydrocarbons, and secondary particles formed from oxides of sulfur and nitrogen.'

No idea whether Prof. Cowen meant to write CO2, but your statement is simply wrong.

What a distinct pity that empiricists and rationalists, experimentalists and theoreticians among scientists and technologists of the 19th and 20th centuries CE failed so spectacularly in anticipating the advent of Technogenic Climate Change.

Well, get acquainted with this guy - 'In the same general period that scientists first suspected climate change and ice ages, Joseph Fourier, in 1824, found that Earth's atmosphere kept the planet warmer than would be the case in a vacuum. Fourier recognized that the atmosphere transmitted visible light waves efficiently to the earth's surface. The earth then absorbed visible light and emitted infrared radiation in response, but the atmosphere did not transmit infrared efficiently, which therefore increased surface temperatures. He also suspected that human activities could influence climate, although he focused primarily on land use changes. In an 1827 paper Fourier stated, "The establishment and progress of human societies, the action of natural forces, can notably change, and in vast regions, the state of the surface, the distribution of water and the great movements of the air. Such effects are able to make to vary, in the course of many centuries, the average degree of heat; because the analytic expressions contain coefficients relating to the state of the surface and which greatly influence the temperature."'

He is actually pretty famous - 'Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier was a French mathematician and physicist born in Auxerre and best known for initiating the investigation of Fourier series and their applications to problems of heat transfer and vibrations. The Fourier transform and Fourier's law are also named in his honour. Fourier is also generally credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect.'

Thank you, I was familiar with Charles Fourier (any relation?) from his influence upon Russian litterateurs (e. g., Dostoevsky), but only after I found Breton's Anthology of Black Humor did I read excerpts from Fourier's Theory of the Four Movements (1806), which at least in places anticipates some of the problems I cited above.

Unfortunately, C. Fourier's views of natural history perhaps led to his views on global warming not to be taken with utter seriousness, or perhaps it was his other socialistic views that inspired tentative reception of his conjectures concerning global warming.

A distinct pity that Joseph Fourier's views attracted no greater attention or appreciation as to (help) forestall the advent of Technogenic Climate Change.

Yes, being the person credited with discovering the greenhouse effect is certainly the sort of trivial thing that would be completely ignored.

Makes you wonder what effect Newton had on orbital space craft two centuries after his work, doesn't it?

Or to be honest, just how common IC motors and coal fired electrical power plants were in 1877, 50 years after that first mention of how man could affect climate.

Makes me wonder just how Technogenic Climate Change came our way in the first place, in which case, given the 19th and 20th century's respective devotions to and focuses upon the scientific enterprise and the values of measuring repeatable phenomena in order to predict specific outcomes.

J. Fourier may enjoy having a Wikipedia entry today in 2018: but what status did he enjoy over the intervening two centuries? "Discovering the greenhouse effect" (though not in so many words) seems to have led to no discernible interventions or recalibrations until after it was already too late to avert the advent of Technogenic Climate Change.

I recognize that you have admitted to no knowledge of physics (, but I'm not really sure how to address the question of the status of the man credited with discovering the greenhouse effect, providing the correct empirical framework for why the Earth is not colder than it is.

Especially since in 1827, the amount of oil being refined for use in billions of IC motors was nil, as was the amount of coal being mined to be used to generate electricity.

I'm guessing that albedo is another one of those foreign concepts, even if we are currently running a real time experiment that will also us to model its effects much better in the future. And to an extent, that concept was more important to Fourier than the trivial amount of fossil fuels being burned in 1827, as noted in the excerpt concerning land use.

Joseph Fourier, physicien accompli
(proto-positivist?): somehow, he failed to see
that math and science and applied technology
would give us Technogenic Climate Change for free.

Makes me wonder why numerous physicists, mathematicians, scientists, or applied technologists by no later than 1927 were not following up on Fourier's century-old insights.

This is disingenuous. I never saw Tyler comment about the fact that when the West (and only the West) imposes pollution taxes on gas and oil all it does is shift supply outwards for China which very often offsets most of the gains from taxing oil in the West since Chinese export production is more polluting per item than that same which would have been produced in the West without the pollution taxes. In contrast the tiny shifts caused by tariff struggles are miniscule.

I think China still uses a lot of coal.

China also seems to have solved for another type of equilibrium:

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