Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coal Problems

For the 1.3 billion people in China to attain US-like consumerism and affluence,  it would take the resources of a whole other planet Earth, according a report by Bob Woodruff of ABC.  I do not begrudge the Chinese people having these things that make life easier but I do not like the way the Chinese government is going about attaining it for their people.

Every 7 to 10 days, a new coal-fueled plant opens in China. These coal-based factories produce enormous amount of sulfur dioxide which leads to global warming, acid rain, poisoned crops and lakes and premature human deaths and is not just affecting the Chinese!  Microscopic particles from a pollution cloud drifting over from China were recently detected in California, Oregon and Washington.

About 60% of China's electricity comes from coal.  The US, on the other hand, has only 23% of its energy derived from coal. While the Chinese government has promised to install sulfur filters on every power plant to remove up to 95% of the sulfur by 2010, their last promise in 2002, which was to cut these emissions 10% by 2005, not only did not come to fruition but ultimately emissions rose by 27%!

Part of the problem also stems from Chinese exports and not just providing for their own citizens.  Up to 33% of their energy production may be attributed to supplying Westerners with goods.  So the more "stuff" we demand, the more China will produce and the more energy they need to produce it.  It is a vicious cycle and our addiction to having inexpensive "stuff" - toys, clothes, furniture, bedding, etc. only feed the pollution monster that is China.

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