Here is this Friday’s Green Numbers round-up:
I generated this graph on Prof Hans Rosling’s Gapminder.org site.
The data shows, somewhat surprisingly that the increase in carbon emissions in countries like Ireland and the US from 1975 to 2002 are not in any way mirrored by any increases in China or India.
In the recent Bali talks (and the Kyoto talks before that) the US held up the developing countries as major polluters and refused to sign Kyoto (and created all kinds of fuss at Bali) because of the amounts of pollution being emitted by developing countries.
This is obviously delaying tactics for Bush’s friends in the oil business in Texas and Saudi. The US Ambassador to Ireland conceded that China may exceed the US’s total emissions in 2008. Compare the income per capita between the US and China again and even if Chinese total emissions do exceed the US in 2008, they are still far less polluting per capita than the US.
And the Chinese were looking for a stronger agreement at Bali than the US.
The sooner Bush and his oil cronies are out of office, the sooner we can move on with trying to clean up the planet.
However bad things are in Ireland in relation to our broadband speeds – things are even worse in Iran. According to the Guardian, the government there has ordered all ISPs to limit Internet speeds to 128kb. This is in an effort to:
make it more difficult to download foreign music, films and television programmes, which the authorities blame for undermining Islamic culture among the younger generation. It will also impede efforts by political opposition groups to organise by uploading information on to the net.
Iran also has some of the most stringent filters blocking Internet sites into the country – almost as bad as China’s infamous Great Firewall of China.
Having said that, I know several people in Ireland who’d love if they could get speeds of 128kb ‘cos they are stuck with 44kb dialup.
If Iran is really serious about reducing the speeds of access for its citizens, I suggest they hire in the expertise of Ireland’s Minister for Broadband Suppression and Ireland’s Telecom’s Regulator Isolde Goggin who have successfully managed to keep Ireland at the bottom of the international broadband leagues for years now
The four largest American companies who are actively helping the Chinese government censor the Internet are Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems. These four companies have been invited to a U.S. congressional subcommittee hearing on February 15 on the subject of U.S. Internet firms operating procedures in China.
The ‘fab four’ failed to turn up for a hearing this Wednesday are were roundly berated by Tom Lantos, D.-Calif., one of the caucus leaders:
Companies that have blossomed in this country and make billions, a country that reveres freedom of speech, have chosen to ignore that core value in expanding their reach overseas, and to erect a ‘Great Firewall’ to suit Beijing’s purposes,” he said. “These massively successful high-tech companies, which couldn’t bring themselves to send their representatives to this meeting today, should be ashamed. With all their power and influence, wealth and high visibility, they neglected to commit to the kind of positive action that human rights activists in China take every day. They caved in to Beijing’s demands for the sake of profits, or whatever else they choose to call it.
It is thought they will attend the Feb 15th hearing!
I note see now that the BBC are reporting that MSN is considering changing its censorship policies:
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s senior lawyer, said it would now remove blog entries only if it gets a “legally binding notice” from the government of that nation…. He added that only people in the nation where the entry breaks local laws will be blocked from seeing the controversial comments. In all other nations access to the entry will be unrestricted.
This is a marginal improvement over MSN’s existing policy of deleting accounts of people who wrote about ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, or ‘demonstration’ but it is still shoring up the ‘great firewall‘ of China.
Interestingly, Reuters is reporting that Bill Gates has come out against censorship today:
The spread of private e-mail means online users could distribute banned news despite government injunctions, he told a news conference.
“You may be able to take a very visible Web site and say that something shouldn’t be there, but if there’s a desire by the population to know something, it’s going to get out,” he said.
However, Gates said Microsoft, the world’s biggest computer software company, had to meet legal requirements of the countries where it does business.
I have spoken to several representatives of search engines recently and they have all told me that search engines are not indexing the audio content of podcasts and don’t have technologies to do so right now.
I wonder, if podcasts are more difficult to index, is there a role for podcasts to get content through the Great Firewall?
David Kirkpatrick of Fortune met with Sergey Brin (one of the co-founders of Google) at the World Economic Forum at Davos and asked him about Google’s decision to censor the Internet in China (something I posted about the other day).
Sergey’s reasoning for the censorship:
We ultimately made a difficult decision, but we felt that by participating there, and making our services more available, even if not to the 100 percent that we ideally would like, that it will be better for Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information, though not quite all of it.
In the same report, David Kirkpatrick also talks to Human Rights Watch boss Ken Roth – Ken’s attitude to this mirrors the comments I made in my post – Ken said:
the answer is only going to come through safety in numbers. And it’s going to require all of the search engines to get together and say “None of us will do this.” And China needs search engines. If it can pick them off one at a time, it wins. If it faces all of the search engines at once banding together, the search engines win.
According to the article, the new Chinese version of the Google search engine:
will not allow users to create personal links with Google e-mail or blog sites, will comply with Chinese law and censor information deemed inappropriate or illegal by the Chinese authorities
One of the reasons Google is hobbling its own technology in China is that Google.com is losing ground in the search market in China to Baidu.com – a Chinese search engine due to government censorship on some of Google.com’s content. A pre-censored Google.cn should have no such issues.
Google will argue that it is not putting profit before human rights – it is merely complying with the law of the land it wants to make profits in (they might not use that terminology exactly!) – the same as all the other major tech suppliers working in China (Cisco, Yahoo!, MSN, etc.). However, if these companies worked together, they could flout the repressive laws in China and theree would be little the Chinese Government could do against such a united front from their most important IT suppliers.
The price of doing business in China? You have to be prepared to sell your soul.
Google’s motto of “Do no Evil” should now be changed to “Do no Evil (unless it interferes with the bottom line)”, I guess!