06 February 2007

China Set to be World's Largest Polluter and CO2 Emitter

China has had a booming economy for the past two decades, since economic liberalisation. One of the downsides of China's boom is the pollution that the populous country is spewing into the East Asian skies.
But it's not just sand, smog and ash that China is spewing into the atmosphere. The country's factories and power plants already emit more sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) than Europe, even though the booming Chinese economy manages only a fraction of the per capita gross domestic product that the old industrialized nations do. Between 2000 and 2005, China's SO2 emissions grew to 26 million tons. In just a few years the country will surpass the United States to become the world's biggest carbon dioxide producer. China already accounts for more than 15 percent of total global CO2 emissions.

...In order to feed its appetite for energy, China is building coal-fired power plants as fast as it can. Every seven to ten days a new plant begins spewing smoke into the sky. The amount by which China increased its power production last year alone is greater than Britain's entire capacity.

Coal heavily pollutes the air, but China's leaders see little alternative to a dirty resource that is available in ample quantities around the country. Some 69 percent of all Chinese power plants are run on coal. China used 2.1 billion tons of it in 2004 -- more than the United States, the European Union and Japan together. Even if the Chinese economy only continues to grow seven percent annually, its coal usage would double to 4 million tons within ten years.

....The country is home to 16 of the world's 20 dirtiest cities. The inhabitants of every third metropolis are forced to breathe polluted air, causing the deaths of an estimated 400,000 Chinese each year. Half of China's 696 cities and counties suffer from acid rain. Two-thirds of its major rivers and lakes are cesspools and more than 340 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. The Yangtze River, once China's proud artery of life, is biologically dead for long stretches. Many other rivers flow with blackened water and along their banks there are the notorious "cancer villages" where many people die early.
More at the Source.

The combination of autocratic rule and a disregard for the environment leads to the same devastation of the atmosphere that Eastern Europe and the USSR suffered under communist rule, before the liberation of the late 1980s and early 1990s. A similar liberation may be necessary before China cleans up its industry. China certainly needs a leadership that cares more about the residents of the country and their health.

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Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

The PRC demonstrates the futility of the Kyoto Protocols. Even if all of the 166 or so Kyoto pledgers met their emission reduction obligations (and only a couple of them are, to date), China alone will add more than five times that total fanciful reduction. India will match the reductions with additions, tit-for-tat.

Dirty energy production has to be innnovated out of, not regulated out of.

Friday, 09 February, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

True. U Penn. geologist Bob Giegenback says that if climate is all about CO2, the game is over and we have already lost. Fortunately, most scientists who can see beyond the posture they must take for their next climate grant, understand that more than CO2 is involved in climate.

Regulation often tends to choke the profits an industry needs to innovate. That will be particularly true of any regulation that twits such as Pelosi or Boxer may dream up.

Saturday, 10 February, 2007  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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