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IBM China Earth

IBM Tries To Forecast and Control Beijing's Air Pollution 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the sisyphus-industries dept.
itwbennett writes Using supercomputers to predict and study pollution patterns is nothing new. And already, China's government agencies, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, publicly report real-time pollution levels to residents. But IBM is hoping to design a better system tailored for Beijing that can predict air quality levels three days in advance, and even pinpoint the exact sources of the pollution down to the street level, said Jin Dong, an IBM Research director involved in the project.
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IBM Tries To Forecast and Control Beijing's Air Pollution

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  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:46PM (#47401247)

    There, that moped is doing it. That one. That little moped is why 20 million people literally cannot live off the air they breathe.

  • Air pollution stinks.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:50PM (#47401287)

    already known that coal makes the number one pollutant of the air in in China, of the PM2.5 that makes up most the rest, 22 percent from transportation, 16 percent from industry, 17 percent from coal.....the sources are known, the percents are known. How and if they are going to clean up these known sources is the question, no need for modeling

    • by zlives (2009072) on Monday July 07, 2014 @02:00PM (#47401379)

      yes but if we spend the next 5-20 years modeling we don't actually have to do anything real about it.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        yes but if we spend the next 5-20 years modeling we don't actually have to do anything real about it.

        China isn't like the USA.
        They tend to move purposefully and quickly when goals are set.

        In the run up to the Olympics, China unilaterally closed coal power plants, various heavy industries, and took cars off the road, all in a bid to reduce pollution in Beijing.
        It took the USA 40 years to tell grandfathered coal plants to either shape up or shut down.
        Compare to China: [businessinsider.com]

        Beijing plans to limit the total number of cars on the road to 5.6 million this year, with the number allowed to rise to 6 million by 2017, the local government has said.

        It will also aim to meet its 2011-2015 targets to cut outdated capacity in sectors like steel, glassmaking and cement by the end of this year, one year ahead of schedule. On top of the original targets, it will also close an additional 15 million tonnes of steel smelting capacity and 100 million tonnes of cement making capacity next year.

        The key idea here is that all this is happening unilaterally.
        Their actions probably wouldn't even be constitutional in the USA.

        • by plopez (54068)

          And they don't seem to care how many people they kill in order to do it. See the 'Great Leap Forward' or break neck economic development in the present as examples.

    • Ah, but if you are trying to sell supercomputers, that sort of solution is no good at all...

      I can only assume that this is another project under the aegis of IBM's 'smarter planet' [wikipedia.org] bullshit, the essence of which appears to be that you can pretend to solve any problem, no matter the type, by throwing enough IBM consultants and systems at it, ideally while invoking 'big data', 'analytics', and 'cloud'.

      Exactly how this is supposed to solve anything is a question caused by lack of faith, one which can be
  • by funwithBSD (245349) on Monday July 07, 2014 @01:55PM (#47401327)

    is protecting it's future employees, customers, and H1B visa holders.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      well they have to have communist customers now that they lost their Nazi one

  • only way to fix it is nuke Beijing and then the Watson starts to log into the missile silos systems that had hand the people with the keys taken out of the loop.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can predict the air quality of Beijing at any time for at least the next 5 years and I can do it for free. The quality is BAD. July 10, 2018? BAD. Simple.

  • The Chinese government HATES it when people measure and publish "unofficial" pollution level readings...you can bet that pollution controls upwind of the US embassy are especially strict.

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday July 07, 2014 @03:21PM (#47402021)

      The Chinese government HATES it when people measure and publish "unofficial" pollution level readings...you can bet that pollution controls upwind of the US embassy are especially strict.

      Which is pretty amusing since it's pretty easy to design an algorith that will predict pollution levels for most major Chinese cities with pretty much 100% accuracy every day of the year:


      #include <stdio.h>
      #include <unistd.h>

      int main()
      {
          while(1)
          {
              printf("Predicted polution level for today: Very High\n");
              printf("Health hazard: Extreme\n");
              sleep(86400);
          }

          return 1;
      }

      • Your program's sleep is unaffected by cardiovascular problems or a deep, phlegmatic, hacking cough. You call that accurate?
      • by jandersen (462034)

        Very amusing. However, as someone who's actually been in Beijing several times (I held a work permit in China for 3 years among other things), I can tell that things are a bit more nuanced. It can be grim, sometimes, but most of what is claimed to be smog in the stereotypical press-photo, is actually dust from the arid north-west of China (Inner Mongolia); when the weather is dry and the wind is from that corner, everything gets coated in very fine powder. I don't remember pollution being a huge problem - i

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And some weather-related forecasting. Big whoop. Good luck DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT instead of just knowing when to shut down cities.

  • Got To Be A Ritual (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler (3430529) on Monday July 07, 2014 @02:38PM (#47401721)
    Anything that society can't deal with becomes surrounded by rituals. For example we can make one heck of a ritual over applying the death penalty. It is like prisons that seal off all roads within miles of the prison near the hour of execution supposedly to ward off the stampede of would be friends that supposedly will try to rescue the subject. Now pollution is getting the same nonsense. Most pollution is obvious. If it pollutes just shut it down. No need to decide which source is least or greatest at all. If it pollutes simply end it. One business may be spewing carbon monoxide or even carbon dioxide while the next spews sulpher. We need no study or debate over which is worse. If it pollutes kill it. If that happens to shut down almost every business in town then great. You have just solved the traffic problem. There is more than one way to clean up the neighborhood.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If that happens to shut down almost every business in town then great.

      But won't you think of the economy? We must enable mankind to engage in economic activity, no matter the cost!

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      If it pollutes just shut it down.

      You pollute. Where's your "off" switch?

      Once you've realized that there's no way to completely eliminate pollution, and that markets work most efficiently when negative externalities are internalized into prices, the solution becomes obvious: charge the polluters for the damage they cause, and give the revenue to those injured by pollution. This will give polluters the proper incentive to curb their emissions and it will pay the medical costs and lost sick days of those inju

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        charge the polluters for the damage they cause, and give the revenue to those injured by pollution. This will give polluters the proper incentive to curb their emissions and it will pay the medical costs and lost sick days of those injured by pollution, all without harming the economy.

        More like it will allow the misfortune (probably poor) to be able to afford the products and services you just made super expensive. I mean seriously, a scheme like this will never result in anything other then the costs bein

        • by Ichijo (607641)

          More like it will allow the misfortune (probably poor) to be able to afford the products and services you just made super expensive.

          Who is more likely to be injured by pollution, the poor or the rich? (The poor, because they tend to live in dirtier areas.) And therefore who stands to gain the most, relative to their discretionary income, from recouping the medical costs and lost sick days from that pollution? (Also the poor, because they have little to no discretionary income.)

          So you are correct that it wi

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Who is more likely to be injured by pollution, the poor or the rich? (The poor, because they tend to live in dirtier areas.) And therefore who stands to gain the most, relative to their discretionary income, from recouping the medical costs and lost sick days from that pollution? (Also the poor, because they have little to no discretionary income.)

            Not really. The poor tend to be the source of their own pollution moreso than suffering other people's pollution. They mix chemicals like Bleach and Lime away in

            • by Ichijo (607641)

              The poor tend to be the source of their own pollution moreso than suffering other people's pollution.

              Why is that relevant in any discussion about whether the rich should pay their fair share for the pollution they cause?

              Also, in the US at least, the poor do not pay their medical bills.

              Again, not relevant, unless you are arguing that welfare should pay the poor's medical bills and not those who injure the poor.

              Yes, it will mean their electricity is turned off...

              Or they spend the day at the mall or the lib

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                Why is that relevant in any discussion about whether the rich should pay their fair share for the pollution they cause?

                Because you specifically brought up helping the poor as if it somehow secured your position. I can see you are abandoning that now I guess.

                Again, not relevant, unless you are arguing that welfare should pay the poor's medical bills and not those who injure the poor.

                Again, you brought this up as a benefit to the poor. welfare already pays the poor's medical bills so should is not an operativ

        • Not there only if you don't price externalities in to energy prices.

          Think of it this way, if I produce something and dump super toxic byproducts into a river, it's great for me. I don't pay to handle the toxic byproducts. However, while I save money, the families down stream who all get cancer are much worse off.

          So, as a society, we don't allow chemical plants to save money by poisoning others.

          Coal plants also have poisonous byproducts, but they are not required to care. They kill people, but they are no

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Lol... and everyone who has ever seen a coal power plant has died. Coal is not some super goxic material and neither is the byproducts.

            I could think of it your way, i could also think the moon is made of green cheese and be just as wrong. Your solution, despite being largely fictional will disproportionately harm the poor and make middle class poor.

            Some of you people just seem to not care about the poor and don't mind tge poor getting poorer as long as yoh can make the rich less rich.

            • It's a fact that coal plants pollute and those pollutants result in increases of disease and a decrease of the health of a population downwind.

              http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja... [forbes.com]

              There's my citation. Maybe you'd care to share yours?

              • by sumdumass (711423)

                Those death rates for coal contain illnesses from mining and transporting coal which is a bit unconnected to burning it for energy. In most situations, those outside related deaths or illnesses can be attributed to improperly following MSHA regulations.

                Needless to say, neither your article or you have provided any evidence that coal is super toxic. It simply isn't. More people die and need health care related to car accidents per year than from coal. But lets look at the real numbers for a minute. According

                • Specious argument. If you're burning coal the process required to burn the coal (whether you're telling me it's the actual flame, or the upstream mining) is killing people.

                  The number of people being greater than or less than the number of deaths for heart disease or diabetes is also irrelevant to the discussion. Deaths are not something economical you can just decide are acceptable[1]. Can I say that, if I shoot someone, say it's OK because I only take one life, and suicide and heart disease both take so

                  • by sumdumass (711423)

                    Actually, it shows how specious you argument was.

                    From what I see, you are basically defining your own axioms so that everything is OK, with no reference to standard morality. Your argument is basically: let's assume anything already in the atmosphere can't be bad since it pre exists, and let's not worry about deaths as I'm not the one dying.

                    You would do well to pay attention to what I actually say and not suppose things in my stead. I have said it twice now so pay attention. Coal is not some super toxic mat

    • by Arker (91948)
      Carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant.

      It's a natural component of the atmosphere, produced every time an animal breaths or respirates in any manner (fish do it too.)

      Now, focus on the real pollution for a moment and realize that there are still very real and enormous costs to your proposed policy of 'If it pollutes simply end it.'

      So what are you going to use for power, Solar? Do you have any idea how much pollution you have to create BEFORE you get a PV cell ready to START producing a miniscule trickle of electr
      • by gtall (79522)

        Oxygen isn't a pollutant either, unless you breath too much of it. Similarly for nitrogen.

        Here's a clue, have a sense of proportion. Pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere, big surprise, the atmosphere heats up. Don't want to believe it is problem? Please, don't. However, you cannot ignore the CO2 acidifying the oceans and taking out coral reefs and shell fish. Don't think that's a problem? The ocean is the base of the food chain. Surely, you care about that, eh? Nah? Okay, please go back to sleep.

        • by Arker (91948)
          "Oxygen isn't a pollutant either, unless you breath too much of it. Similarly for nitrogen."

          How much you breath has absolutely nothing to do with it. Oxygen, Nitrogen, and CO2 are the natural components of the atmosphere, not pollutants.

          "Here's a clue, have a sense of proportion. Pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere, big surprise, the atmosphere heats up. Don't want to believe it is problem? Please, don't. However, you cannot ignore the CO2 acidifying the oceans and taking out coral reefs and shell fish. Don
      • You're a bit too literal. "Noise pollution," "heat pollution," and "light pollution" also involve an excess of something that naturally occurs in the environment.

        That does not mean that, for instance, the effects to the environment are not detrimental. Which is why, despite the fact that in a natural ecosystem animals make noises, NYC fines drivers who honk their horn excessively. And why there are rules about when you can land your airplane because it's not nice to wake up residents within a hundred mil

        • by Arker (91948)
          "You're a bit too literal."

          And you are a bit too soft-headed, at least on this issue.

          "Noise pollution," "heat pollution," and "light pollution" also involve an excess of something that naturally occurs in the environment.

          And all three are BS terms. Marketing terms, where they verbally associate item X with item Y even though it does not belong, simply because they believe it will provoke the emotional response they want. THIS is real pollution - of the language. This fits in the same bucket with the 'wars'
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday July 07, 2014 @02:44PM (#47401765)

    ...please insert another $1M to continue this contract.

  • In response to concerns both about possible export of American technologies to China as a result of IBM's involvement, and claims by climate scientists that emissions in China contribute significantly to global warming, think tank The Heritage Foundation released the following report:

    "Heh, heh - His name is 'Dong'. Heh."

    • by gtall (79522)

      C'mon, the Heritage Foundation is not THAT sophisticated. Actually, the Heritage Foundation has been taken over by Libertards. They rather take offense at big business. I'm not sure they are all wrong to take offense, but I'm fairly sure it is for the wrong reasons.

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