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Thursday, March 26, 2015

CHINA AND COAL

Wow, I've gone more than a week without an energy posting.  Renewable Energy World this morning had an edifying article on the matter of China and coal:



You hear assorted rumblings emanating from China, and air pollution is but one fearsome problem.  China:
  • added 15.1 million new cars last year 
  • has 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world
I can keep citing statistics (note the face masks), but let me just say that the air they breathe in Beijing during the month of January averaged 196 micrograms per cubic meter.  This measurement did not come from the government, but the U.S. Embassy.  So what, you say?  The air in U.S. airport smoking lounges averaged about 167 mg/cubic meter!  


So back to China and coal:
  • January is a particularly bad month, but for the year, the air in Beijing was twice (86) the allowable national standard (35).  90% of Chinese cities failed to meet national standards.
  • There are four major  Beijing coal power plants:
    • one was shut down last year
    • two more stopped production last week
    • the final one will terminate operations in 2016
  • These electricity generation facilities will now use natural gas.
  • About two thirds of China's electricity comes from coal.  This figure is 30% in the USA.
  • From 2003 to 2013 global coal demand grew by more than 50%, with China the main culprit.
  • I find this hard to imagine, but by the end of this year, over just a two-year period,  China will close 2,000 coal mines.
  • China's carbon dioxide emissions DROPPED by 2% last year.
  • Nuclear power is experiencing a re-birth.  A Fukushima or Chernobyl in China and, well.....
  • Coal is rapidly being replaced by hydro, wind, solar and natural gas.
There was a particularly interesting comment by a reader, who sarcastically remarked that natural gas is mostly methane, which, molecule for molecule, is at least twenty times worse than carbon dioxide in causing global warming.

An obvious point, though, is that global warming does not provoke governments to take giant leaps for the sake of humanity.  People dying from air pollution, now that's another matter.

The USA  can't be so smug, of course, for we produce a lot more carbon dioxide/capita than China.  An interesting bit of information:  since 1991 there have been 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles on climate change--only 24 reject humans, us, as the cause.

Here is a poll conducted by The New York Times/ Stanford/ Resources for the Future:
  • 78% of Americans believe global warming is serious, with 10% saying not serious at all.  Regarding "not serious at all," 22% Republicans and 4% Democrats.
  • 28% of Americans believe they will not be hurt at all personally if nothing is done to reduce global warming, 44% Republicans, 14% Democrats.
Republicans just are not convinced.  So what appears to be happening is that air pollution and, can I dare say it, yes, good sense by the masses, seem to be affecting fossil fuel use.  Interestingly enough, my previous energy/environment posting last week was entitled:
Maybe the Republicans have it right.  They are not concerned, and their damned attitude appears not to be endangering society.  Something is wrong here.

Here is an international tally regarding the perceived threat of global warming:
  • Afghanistan  19%
  • China            21%
  • India             29%
  • Russia          39%
  • Denmark      40%
  • Norway        43%
  • Germany      60%
  • USA             63%
  • Argentina     71%
  • France          75%
  • Brazo;          76%
  • Japan            80%
  • S. Korea       80%
  • Greece          82%
  • Portugal        85%
Thus, regarding global warming and carbon emissions control, Asia, Europe and South America are concerned, Americans are relatively so-so, Scandinavian countries even less so, with China, India and a few countries at war not caring much.

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