Americans, the world’s largest polluters, consumed almost four tons of coal per person in 2006. Every ton of coal burned sends more than two tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
By 2009, experts believe China will overtake the United States as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
According to the country’s National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC), China will produce 1.45 trillion kWh of electricity in the first half of 2007. About 75 percent of the China’s energy is generated by coal. By 2050, to serve China’s growing population, the country is expected to add the sum total of Canada’s generating capacity every four years!
While China hopes to rely more upon nuclear, coal is continues taking its toll until the country solves its energy quandary.
On Tuesday, China’s state environmental watchdog reported that more than 62 percent of the country’s cities suffer from air pollution. Thirty-nine cities were placed on the State Environmental Protection Administration’s ‘Black List,” because they suffered severe air pollution.
Seven of those cities are located in China’s northern Shanxi province, the country’s largest coal supplier. Coal-fired power plants are reportedly the major culprit. Many were given preferential pricing terms to install sulfur removal systems. Some took the pricing, but skipped the systems.
China’s runaway pollution has become an international problem.
In early April, an American satellite spotted a dense yellow cloud of gases, chemical and desert sands floating across Seoul (Korea) – emissions from China’s coal-fired smokestacks. This weekend, the Korean government retaliated by launching Greenbelt Plantation Project. The Korean forestry service plans to plant 1.5 million trees in Mongolia to help reduce sandstorms wafting across the Yellow Sea, which bring its residents respiratory illnesses.
It is not that China is ignoring the problem, but that the country’s breakneck GDP growth rate is not only impacting global commodity prices (oil, copper, nickel, uranium, etc), but could also be accelerating the effects of abrupt climate change and global warming.
Just Bad Weather?
One can politely compartmentalize the disrelated weather events which occurred over the past seven days and call those a coincidence, or one can imagine the horrors Dr. James Lovelock has warned could occur as this century unfolds, as he told us a year ago.
A week ago, Cyclone Gonu was recorded as the strongest tropical storm since 1945 in the Arabic Gulf region. It peaked as a Category 5 along the coastline of the Gulf of Oman. At the time, many worried it might disrupt oil exports from the Middle East. It was the first cyclone in recorded history to enter the Gulf of Oman. Eastern Australia was battered by heavy rains and suffered major flooding and landslides this past weekend. So great was the impact that some compared it to 1989’s earthquake, near the same location.
There have been other firsts over the past few years. In 2004, Cyclone Catrina became the first cyclone to form in the South Atlantic and also hit Brazil. In 2005, Hurricane Vince became the first cyclone to hit the Iberian Peninsula. In 2006, super typhoon Chanchu formed in the South China Sea, hitting China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Many have concluded these could be early warning signs of much greater catastrophes expected as sea waters further warm up.
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