Sunday, August 30, 2009

What can we do about China and Global Heating?

From "Fahreed Zakahria GPS" on CNN earlier today:

ZAKARIA: Now for my "What in the World" segment.

Here's what got my attention this week: a somewhat shocking report from British Petroleum. Have you switched all your bulbs to compact fluorescents? Are you thinking of buying a new hybrid car? Are you careful to recycle every last scrap of paper off your desk?

Good for you, you're doing your part but I'm sorry to tell you, you may be wasting your time.

Listen to this: for the sixth year in a row, coal consumption has grown. King coal is the fuel that is driving global warming. It is the earth's biggest polluter. Many scientists tell us that it is the fastest growing, dirtiest fuel in the world. And the country driving most of the growth -- China.

That's what a fascinating new report from the energy giant BP says. Last year, China burned more than double the amount of coal that the world's second biggest user did, the United States. And while U.S. usage went down a little last year and Spain cut its usage by more than a quarter, China actually burned 7 percent more coal in 2008 than it did in 2007. That uptick in China was responsible for an extra 366 million tons of emissions into the atmosphere.

The root of the problem is that China's addictive coal habit is precisely what is driving its extraordinary growth. Coal is what fires many of the plants that make the sneakers and the steel and the silicon chips which China then sells to the rest of the world at a profit. And there's no sign they're slowing down.

An MIT study says that China builds new coal-fired powered plants at the rate of two each week. And "Science Magazine" found that if China keeps on this path, by 2030 they will be emitting as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the entire world does today.

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