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.