China’s Goals to clean Dirty Coal

November 6, 2013

America’s Congress passed its Clean Air Act in 1970 because of dense, visible smog in many U.S. cities and industrial centers.  The U.S. has emitted over 90 billion metric tons of carbon since 1800 from fossil-fuel consumption and cement production. U.S. fossil-fuel emissions have doubled since the 1950s but the U.S. share of global emissions has declined from 44% to 19% over the same interval because of higher growth rates in other countries. Source: cdiac.gov

China’s Clean Air Act was first introduced in 1987. For an example of China’s progress, in 2006, Greenpeace was consulted by the CCP on an early draft of a renewable energy law by China’s National People’s Congress. Today—seven years later—China is the world’s leader in the production of renewable energy—in 2011, China produced 797.4 billion annual kilowatt-hours from alternative sources of energy production [hydroelectricity, wind power, biomass and solar] compared to the United States in second place with 699.3 billion.

While China’s air pollution problems may sound extreme and incomparable to air quality here in the U.S., we should not forget that America actually did face a very similar environmental situation during its industrialization. Source: Think Progress.org

Bill Chameides writes in the Huffington Post about China’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.  He goes into detail how the Chinese plan to accomplish this.

Since 70% of China’s electricity comes from thousands of coal burning power plants, Chameides expresses doubts that China will be able to meet these lofty goals.  However, I disagree.  When you discover the downside of China’s coal burning power plants, it is obvious there is no choice but to clean up.

China’s one-party system has demonstrated the ability to get things done quickly and mistakes are made but so are course corrections.  I witnessed China’s ability to get things done in Shanghai. We were staying in what was once the French concession. The stately mansions that had housed wealthy French families and their Chinese servants had been converted to communal multi-family homes still surrounded by high walls.  When we went to sleep, the walls were there. In the morning, they were gone. 

An army of workers arrived at night, took down the walls and trucked out the debris without making enough noise to wake people.

Although I disagree with Chameides conclusion, his piece is worth reading. And we should not lose sight of the fact that China’s population represents 19% of the earth’s total compared to 4.5% for the U.S. In addition, China’s average per capita CO2 emissions in 2011 was 7.2 tonnes per capita (per person) compared to 17.2 tonnes in America—one of the largest in the world. Imagine how many tons of CO2 the US would pollute the environment with if it had China’s population. Source: PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The Conservative Carbon Conspiracy

October 27, 2011

Although China suffers from air pollution in its major cities and rivers, there are cities and rivers with cleaner air and water, such as Chengdu (more than 14 million people), Haikou (more than 2 million), Xiamen (about 3.5 million), Dalian (more than 6 million) and Zhuhai (1.5 million), and the Qi River in the north and the Li River in the south in addition to the Wusuli and Ussuri Rivers in the Northeast, and the Nenjiang River in the midwest.

Since the Western media often focuses on the pollution in China, this may come as a surprise to many, but China, like the United States, has environments that are not polluted.

After three decades of pollution, China is struggling to clean its environment, which in a capitalist, profit driven economic system is a challenge as it is in the United States.

Evidence of China’s efforts to clean its environment reveal itself in the fact that China has more hydroelectric dams (about 26,000—half the world total) than any nation, is replacing its old dirty coal-burning power plants with the latest clean-air technologies in coal power, and is the leader in solar and wind generating electricity in addition to developing safer, cleaner nuclear energy.

In fact, China produces more than 200 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from its hydroelectric dams while the US only produces 80 GW in third place behind Canada’s 89 GW.

However, in the US, conservatives from the Republican Party fight hard to curb environmental laws designed to decrease carbon based pollution due to coal burning power plants and the combustion engine.

There is an old saying in America that harkens back to the revolution, “Give me liberty or give me death,” but today, the unspoken conservative slogan should be “Give me carbon, profits and lower taxes or give me death.”

For example, the Huffington Post reported, “Obama’s Ozone Standards Retreat Angers Environmental Groups, Ignores Science… Only national enforcement will protect us here in Rhode Island from the ‘bad air’ days we experience due to ozone caused by out-of-state power plants,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement. “Many of these Midwestern power plants have inadequate pollution controls or none at all, and use tall smokestacks to launch the pollution into prevailing winds that bring ozone here to Rhode Island.”

Why would President Obama do this? The answer is pressure from the conservative majority in the House of Representatives that value profit over life.  Conservatives ignore the fact that cutting back on ground-level ozone could save, according to the EPA, an estimated 12,000 American lives, 58,000 asthma attacks and 2.5 million missed school or work days annually.

Meanwhile, the war of words in the US over global warming between conservatives supporting the oil and coal industries and environmentalists continues.

More evidence that increased carbon in the atmosphere is causing global warming was reported in World Without Ice by Robert Kunzig in the October 2011 issue of National Geographic Magazine. “Fifty-six million years ago,” Kunzig wrote, “a mysterious surge of carbon into the atmosphere sent global temperatures soaring. In a geologic eye blink life was forever changed.”

What happened 56 million years ago is called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM.  Global warming during the PETM was caused by a massive and geologically sudden release of carbon. The PETM lasted more than 150,000 years until the oceans and forests reabsorbed the excess carbon. It brought on droughts, floods, insect plagues and extinctions.

If you doubt that carbon spewing into the atmosphere is not causing current global warming, I suggest reading the piece in National Geographic (link provided above).  Once the earth was hot and ice free, the ocean levels were 220 feet higher than they are now.

If we ignore these facts and continue business as usual as conservatives want, imagine what global warning and melting ice will do to property values and profits in areas that may soon be under water.

Discover The Cause of China’s Pollution

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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