August 26, 2007
Interesting, if distressing story today from the New York Times about China and its rush toward industrialization. It seems that China’s pollution levels are reaching staggeringly bad proportions thanks to a heavy increase in coal fired power plants. China has lots of coal, maybe more than any other nation on Earth and they intend to use it. The problem of course, is that coal is dirty, both for the environment and human health. The increase in China’s pollution output has created an environmental disaster and has made cancer their leading cause of death. This bit is especially distressing:
“China’s problem has become the world’s problem. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo. Much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.
More pressing still, China has entered the most robust stage of its industrial revolution, even as much of the outside world has become preoccupied with global warming.
Experts once thought China might overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases by 2010, possibly later. Now, the International Energy Agency has said China could become the emissions leader by the end of this year, and the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency said China had already passed that level.”
Back in 2005, Al Gore touched on the challenges facing China and its increasing number of coal fired plants in his award winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. I’ve captured the segment dealing with China and posted it on YouTube as an interesting tangent to the NYT piece. It seems that China’s pollution problems have only grown worse since the movie was made which doesn’t bode well for China or the U.S.
Given the problems the United States has had dealing with greenhouse gasses and our lack of global responsibility in regard to the climate crisis, it seems unlikely that the Chinese will fare better any time soon. It most likely will be decades before the communist government there decides to do something about their nation’s contribution to global warming. Given the rate at which things are changing around the world, I don’t think any of us can afford to wait that long.