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Daily Archives: July 4, 2022

In Pictures: Food of Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai, China

Avant-garde French Cuisine with Multi-sensory Dining Experience

No.35 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

China Has a PR Problem — and It’s Not Just Over Hong Kong. Here’s Why in Three Charts.

Lili Pike wrote . . . . . . . . .

A new survey shows more and more people in advanced economies hold unfavorable views of China.

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping will preside over an elaborate celebration of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Chinese mainland, a return that he has said “ended past humiliation and marked a major step forward toward the complete reunification of China.” Perhaps in an attempt to preserve that narrative, the government has warned activists not to protest and blocked several media outlets from attending. Meanwhile, on another side of the world, during this week’s G-7 and NATO summits, Western leaders are casting China as a rising challenge that must be countered.

These are just the latest examples of China’s efforts to shape and spread a positive narrative about its place in the world — and other countries’ attempts to push back. And according to a new Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday, it’s clear that — in several parts of the world — China is losing the battle of narratives. The data from more than 20,000 respondents in 19 advanced economies reveals highly critical views of China on a range of issues, as well as a shared view that China’s influence is growing.

As tensions rise between the West and China, the survey results offer insights into the depth of the division and what is driving negative views of China.

A dark view of China and President Xi

Pew has conducted this survey since 2002. This latest iteration finds that perceptions of China are at historically negative levels. Critical views of China spiked in 2020, after the outbreak of the covid pandemic, and have remained at similar levels since. Of the 19 countries surveyed, the middle-of-the-pack view was 68 percent unfavorable toward China, with Japan holding the most negative level at 87 percent. The U.S. was close behind at 82 percent. European countries and South Korea were also found to have widely negative views, while Singapore and Malaysia — countries closer to China’s orbit — had a warmer outlook.

For most countries, this level of disapproval has risen well above pre-pandemic levels. Year to year, the most pronounced increases in negative views came in the U.K., U.S. and Greece. And for 10 of the countries surveyed, including the U.S., unfavorability was at an all-time high.

Better news for China came in questions about bilateral relations. Across the board, people held more positive views about bilateral relations between China and their own countries, suggesting that these relationships are relatively well managed and offering some reasons for optimism.

The survey also probed global views of Xi’s leadership as he prepares to begin a third term. Here the survey revealed a divide in opinion. When asked about their “confidence in Xi to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” Western nations as well as Japan and South Korea had highly negative to mostly negative views, while Malaysia and Singapore maintained a much friendlier position. At the high end, 85 percent of people in Sweden had “no or not much confidence at all” in Xi, whereas 69 percent of Singaporeans expressed some to a lot of confidence.

The dim view of Xi in Western nations may owe in part to his cozy relationship with Russia. Xi met Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a meeting that established a “no limits” partnership between the two countries, and China has continued to toe the Kremlin line on the war. China’s relationship with Russia was highlighted as the top concern in a separate survey Pew published in April looking in greater depth at U.S. opinions toward China.

What’s driving such critical views?

More than any other issue, China’s human rights record stood out as the highest concern for those surveyed — and these concerns were closely associated with overall negative views of China.

Laura Silver, a senior researcher at Pew who co-authored the report, told Grid that economic issues had previously been more salient for respondents, but human rights have emerged as a sharper issue in recent years. This coincides with China’s increasingly harsh repression of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, and the crackdown that followed the 2019 protests in Hong Kong.

In the U.S., bipartisan attention to China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang — including a sweeping new law passed last week — has raised the profile of these issues in the American public, Silver said. Notably, in the U.S. and other Western nations, respondents said that addressing human rights issues should be prioritized above building economic relations with China. This suggests that there is public support for measures like the new Xinjiang law, which may cause economic disruption between the U.S. and China.

Fears about China’s military ambitions were also reflected in the survey. Nearly three-quarters of the countries said it was a serious issue, with the sharpest concern coming from some of China’s neighbors in the Pacific — Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The consequences

Beijing has been dismissive of past Pew surveys. Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesperson said in response to a recent U.S.-specific Pew survey that “unscrupulous and despicable” attacks on China by U.S. politicians, media and think tanks were to blame for negative views of China. “These anti-China forces, driven by ideological bias and selfish political interests, flagrantly provoked confrontation and division, disseminated political viruses, and poisoned the public opinion atmosphere in both countries.”

Not surprisingly, the Pew results are unlikely to find a wider audience in China. A separate survey conducted by the Carter Center in September found that the vast majority of Chinese people believe their country is seen in a positive light abroad, which researchers attributed to the success of China’s censorship. “The public opinion bubble within China that insulates Chinese people from information about China’s image abroad could be potentially dangerous, as China’s risky and provocative diplomatic and military endeavors overseas may face relatively little domestic constraint,” wrote Jian Xu, an assistant professor of political science at Yale-National University Singapore.

Economically, China’s declining image has also come with consequences. Its human rights violations in Xinjiang led to the collapse of a major trade deal with the EU, and the recent Xinjiang import bans in the U.S. have already hit the region’s significant cotton industry.

However, across much of the Global South, China has worked to burnish its image through its increasing media influence. It’s difficult to say whether those efforts are paying off. Most of the countries eligible for this latest Pew survey were advanced economies, largely in Europe, because the pandemic has disrupted research in poorer countries where online surveys aren’t feasible. The 2019 Pew survey, the last to capture a greater set of low-income countries, showed generally more positive views of China in those nations. But Silver said those results might not be repeated today, in particular, because China’s response to the pandemic may have changed countries’ views.

Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations recently wrote that when it comes to the West, China seems set on a more aggressive approach to foreign policy despite its sinking image. The Pew survey suggests there are costs to that approach.

Source : GRID

Greenwashed: Electric Pickup Trucks Are Dirtier Than You Think

James Gilboy and Peter Holderith wrote . . . . . . . . .

You can’t throw a steel ball these days without smashing the windows of a splashy new electric truck. The Ford F-150 Lightning, the Rivian R1T, the GMC Hummer EV, the upcoming Chevy Silverado EV and Ram 1500 EV, and yes, the Tesla Cybertruck—all aimed at making electrification really matter for the American mainstream. Pickups are the country’s best-selling vehicles, and as the least fuel-efficient, it only makes sense that the surest route to mass adoption of EVs and lowering emissions lies in pairing batteries with crew cabs. And the early returns are promising—the Lightning, for example, is for most practical purposes (except maybe towing) simply a normal F-150 minus a tailpipe. The sooner we get more electric trucks on the road, the better, the thinking goes.

But just because electric trucks don’t leave an invisible wake of carbon dioxide doesn’t mean they’re as guilt-free as they seem. These are large, heavy vehicles with massive batteries, and there’s still an environmental price to pay even if the costs have been pushed upstream and out of sight. Most electricity generation in the U.S. still produces CO2, though renewables are more in the mix depending on where you are. More important is that manufacturing electric trucks produces far more emissions than their internal-combustion counterparts. The crush of new models this year made us wonder: Where’s the break-even point between gas and electric pickups? How far would you need to drive both a 6.2L V8 Ram TRX and a silent Hummer EV before their lifetime emissions catch up and the Hummer becomes the truly greener option?

We crunched the numbers, and found out the answer is farther than you’d think. Will today’s electric trucks be better for the planet over time than their fossil-fueled equivalents? Absolutely. Do they cut carbon emissions enough in the short or long term to justify driving one over something smaller, even a gas car? Absolutely not.

The Efficiency Problem

Why electric trucks aren’t so green starts with a simple matter of physics: a 3,000-pound car needs a fraction of the energy to travel a mile that a 9,000-pound vehicle does. Throw in the preferred form factor of American pickups—big, heavy-duty, and squarer than the jaw of the person driving it—and an electric truck needs a much larger battery than an electric car to cover the same promised 300+ miles of range expected of today’s EVs. (That baseline expectation alone is problematic for battery production emissions, but we’ll leave that for another time.)

A bigger battery in turn adds weight, whose penalty must be offset with an even bigger battery, and so on until you end up with something like the GMC Hummer EV weighing 9,000 pounds. Its 2,900-pound, 212.7-kWh lithium-ion battery can propel it 329 miles. It’s about a third as efficient as a shapely Lucid Air, which can travel over 500 miles using a battery half that size.

The problem is better illustrated by MPGe, or miles-per-gallon equivalent, the metric intended to calculate the distance an electric (or electrified) vehicle can travel by expending the same amount of energy in a gallon of gas. It’s fairly useless in the real world, but it is good for comparing the overall efficiency of EVs. The GMC Hummer EV has an MPGe rating of 47. That’s exceptionally poor for an electric—but even trucks like the 70-MPGe Rivian R1T are well behind things like the 97-MPGe Ford Mustang Mach-E or the 125 MPGe Tesla Model Y.

Lower efficiency means charging more often. Charging more often means more energy consumption. You can see where this is going.

Carbon Cost of Entry

Transitioning from gas-guzzler to watt-waster doesn’t exactly feel like progress, but at least it’s a step in the right direction, right? Yes—except there’s one not-so-small snag. In large part because of the batteries, manufacturing electric vehicles releases significantly more emissions than building ICE cars, big electric trucks even more so. Not only do electric trucks pay off their carbon debts slower than pretty much any other car, they have more CO2 to answer for in the first place.

How much more isn’t something most automakers could—never mind would—tell you. Most car companies have not publicized life-cycle carbon assessments for their products that would clarify the environmental impact of their EVs’ manufacture, disposal, and to a smaller degree, use. I contacted current and future electric truck producers Ford, General Motors, Ram, and Rivian for such assessments, and only received responses from GM and Rivian, neither of which had conducted such a study.

So far, the one exception to the rule is Polestar, the Sino-Swedish offshoot of Volvo focused on EVs. It has released a life-cycle carbon assessment of its first EV, the Polestar 2, which offers intriguing insights into the true impact of car manufacturing. For a variety of reasons, Polestar’s study can’t paint an accurate picture of the auto industry as a whole, but its numbers are the only ones available. What’s more, they still let us make an educated guess as to the CO2 generated by producing trucks like the Hummer EV—and as a result, how long it takes one to break even with an equivalent ICE truck.

First, the numbers themselves. Creating a Polestar 2 with the long-range battery and twin-motor, all-wheel-drive powertrain is associated with 17 metric tons of CO2 from refining raw materials, seven from the batteries, 2.1 from the chassis’ manufacture, and half a ton for disposal, totaling 26.6 metric tons. That’s almost 10 tons more than the 16.7 released by producing a hybrid Volvo XC40, which Polestar identified as an equivalent ICE model. Put both on the road, and it’d take about 68,000 miles for the XC40’s total life cycle emissions to finally surpass the Polestar’s based on the global average energy mix, which generates 475 grams of CO2 per kWh per the International Energy Agency. That’s over four years of driving for the average American.

Back to the GMC Hummer EV, which I don’t mean to pick on but seriously, that 9,000-pound curb weight is such a convenient target. It won’t be spot-on because of differences in manufacturing processes, but we can use Polestar’s numbers to safely ballpark how much CO2 is released in the process of making each Hummer EV. For the Polestar 2 LR AWD, everything that’s not the battery results in one metric ton of CO2 for every 198 pounds of chassis, and 92 kilograms of CO2 per kWh of battery. (That’s not bad as lithium-ion batteries go, they range from 39 to 196 kg/kWh according to a study by Transport & Environment.)

Take out the battery and the Hummer EV weighs 6,140 pounds. Using the chassis guidance above, we can estimate its associated raw materials, motors, and body result in 31 metric tons of CO2. Its 212.7-kWh battery is good for another 19.6 metric tons. Not counting end-of-life recycling (a relatively small piece of the puzzle anyway), it’s likely producing one Hummer EV releases 50.6 metric tons of CO2. That’s nearly twice that of the Polestar, and more than triple the 15.2 metric tons of CO2 emissions Americans averaged in 2018 according to the World Bank.

Applying the Data, or: You Can’t Fight Physics

Of course, a Hummer EV is supposed to mark an improvement over a similar fossil-fueled truck, such as the Ram TRX, with which it shares its overkill attitude and emphasis on acceleration and off-road performance. The Ram’s horrible gas mileage (about 12 mpg combined) is a good match for the Hummer’s resource-intensity and inefficiency, too. Using that Polestar-Volvo data, we can estimate a TRX’s production to be associated with 26.5 metric tons of CO2, while FuelEconomy.gov rates it at 889 grams of CO2 (and upstream greenhouse gas emissions) per mile driven. Based on the U.S. energy production average 386 g CO2/kWh, the Hummer EV’s 1.6 miles per kWh means it’s responsible for 241 grams of CO2/mi, or just over a quarter of what the TRX emits.

It takes just under 37,200 miles to achieve parity with a TRX, at 59.6 metric tons of CO2 emitted over the total life cycle, and finally, it’s all gravy for GM from there.

The graph at the top compare life-cycle CO2 and GHG emissions in kilograms on the y axis and miles driven on the x axis. Both trucks start well above zero, because manufacturing is energy-intensive and thus generates a significant environmental impact. Though the Hummer EV has a big head start on emissions, the Ram’s steeper ascent as it burns gas means it catches up to the Hummer at 37,191 miles. Improving on a TRX’s environmental impact isn’t exactly something to brag about, though, and it’s hard to call an accomplishment when the Rivian R1T breaks even with the TRX sooner, just before the 17,000-mile mark with 41.6 metric tons of CO2 on the board. Unwind this same math elsewhere and it shows the Ford F-150 Lightning doesn’t turn the table on the hybrid F-150 Powerboost until around the 61,000-mile mark, at 46.5 metric tons of CO2. On one hand, it demonstrates electric trucks inevitably do become the greener option compared to ICE trucks over time. On the other, what happens to the calculation if the Lightning needs a new resource-intensive battery at 150,000 miles and the gas version keeps running just fine?

An electric truck is still a truck, and its shape makes it permanently less efficient than an electric car. But the graph below takes it one step further and throws in the lifecycle emissions for some gas-powered economy cars for good measure. And lo: those too pollute less than electric trucks.

Down there at the bottom are a selection of economy cars with differing drivetrains, including the regular Honda Civic, the hybrid Toyota Prius, and electric Nissan Leaf, with the hybrid Ford Maverick thrown in for the hell of it. Interestingly, while the Civic and Maverick track each other over the first couple hundred thousand miles (reaffirming my belief that the Maverick is a Corolla-killer in disguise), and hover around the Hummer’s CO2-per-mile, their comparatively tiny size and manufacturing impacts mean their lines never converge. And it’d take over 140,000 miles for them to catch up to the tamer Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning.

There are two main takeaways from all this. One, simply being an EV is not enough to be sustainable. Electric trucks do represent a long-term improvement over pure combustion and even hybrid trucks if they can stay on the road, but their resource-intensive manufacturing and sheer size make them less green than smaller gas-powered cars. And two, while we’ve been able to use what little data we have to better understand the effects of electrification, the lack of information from most OEMs we contacted demonstrates the auto industry has a transparency problem we’d do well to start taking seriously. Carmakers won’t share the true environmental impacts of their EVs unless it hurts them not to. If we’re going to get serious about sustainability, that has to be our starting point. That, and not pretending an electric Hummer can ever be a stand-in for a Civic.

Source : The Drive

Chart: Confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court Sinks to New Low

Source : Statista

习近平在庆祝香港回归祖国25周年大会暨香港特别行政区第六届政府就职典礼上的讲话 (全文)


























Source : 新华视点

Chart: S&P 500 Level % Off High

Source : The Big Picture

Humour: News in Cartoons