Toxic China and Climate Change

The overwhelming response by Chinese people to the release of the documentary ‘Under the Dome’ shows how potent an issue pollution is in that heavily polluted country. Again, if you have time the video is really worth a look. It has English subtitles.

The Chinese censors took it down, but not before 200 million Chinese saw the video.

Pollution in China is a big deal, just as it became a big deal in Western countries the minute they crawled out of poverty, something that happened much later than people realize–as late as 1948, half of Americans were poor. When that changed, people began to have time to express dissatisfaction with pollution and just 25 years later Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. It took about the same amount of time to clean up London’s skies and water–somewhat longer for Italy (well, okay, they’re still struggling with it, but that’s more because the Mafia got involved than anything else.)

Parents are now sending their children out of the country, ostensibly for schooling but they cheerfully admit that in fact it’s to get them out of danger from China’s polluted air, water and soils.

The Chinese leadership well recognizes that this is a hot button issue. They have made it a priority. They have the tools to address it and probably will.

What does this mean for China’s efforts to combat climate change?

Not as much as the most committed advocates would like, of course. China wants to get away from coal–but they’re unable to right now. Currently 69% of their energy comes from coal and their plan is to drop that to 65% by 2050.

They can make it a lot cleaner of course. Many Chinese coal plants have scrubbers–many of those scrubbers are not in use. There’s a lot of room for improvement.

They’re building lots of nuclear power plants in China–I think their current schedule is to bring two online every year through 2050. But that won’t even keep up with forecast increased consumption during that timeframe, something I discuss at my other blog, 3000 Quads.

And although they are finally using some of their world leading manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines for domestic use, but it will still amount only to an asterisk in percentages by 2050.

China would love to use more natural gas–they’ve discovered a lot of it amenable to fracking. However, the arid nature of China’s climate means they can’t spare the water to frack it out of the ground.

They’re importing oil and gas from Russia–why not build another pipeline and use it to import water?

Far more than other countries, China would benefit most quickly from a dash to gas–they need to find a way to get the water to make that practical.


8 responses to “Toxic China and Climate Change

  1. In 2002 I went to an international geology conference that had a large Chinese delegation. They had a lot more realistic model than what is taught in this country. If they start drilling horizontally, they will be much more careful than us.
    Anyway, the Russian gas may actually help the the greenhouse effect. It’s time to admit that fracked gas is worse than coal, it’s just harder to see the damage.

  2. Marty,
    Claiming fracked gas is worse than coal is as credible as claiming plate tectonics is false.
    You are an obviously bright guy, but it is fascinating to see the idiosyncratic things you obsess over.

  3. I have never met a Chinese geologist who believed in plate tectonics. It violates conservation of angular momentum and conservation of energy. Did I leave anything out? Oh, it’s geometrically impossible.

  4. Odd, I have clients who are Chinese, educted in China, are geologists, and believe in plate tectonics.
    And they do fracking as well, by the way.

  5. It’s a little harder to reject plate tectonics now that it can be observed in real time with GPS measurements.

    • TomL,
      Exactly. The many types of seismic faults move as predicted by plate tectonics.The lava oozing formthe spreading zones, the Hawaiian hot plume with the Pacific plate moving NW, The famous Africa/S America congruence, all support plate tectonics.
      The Earth does not seem to realize that geometrically these things are impossible. Sort of like the climate declining to go into catastrophe mode as requested bny our cliamte concerned.

  6. Marty,
    Is this site one that you believe makes your counter-tectonic arguemnt effectively?

  7. In 1977 we drove to LA. Coming in over the mountains we could see a grey-brown layer hanging low over the city and fog underneath. We stayed 3 days. When we left we both had serious sinus problems and my asthma was 10x as bad as usual. It took several months to recover.

    So real pollution is bad. I have not regrets about all the regulations on cars and, up until the latest round, regulations on coal power plants. It would be so nice if Congress would write some rational laws instead of setting up endless bureaucracies that just keep growing and growing until they pollute the whole political climate.

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