China Coal Use Equal To The Rest of The World

A throwaway line in an article on The Verge prompted me to do some research and some worrying trends emerge.

Chinese use of coal has more than doubled in the last recorded decade, to the point where coal usage in China, as measured in 2011, was all but equivalent to all of the coal usage in the rest of the world combined.

The report from the US Energy Information Administration is a couple of years old now, so in all likelihood China has probably reached the point where its coal usage has surpassed the rest of the world now. Chinese coal usage has been almost entirely responsible for the increase of coal usage since 2000.

Coal burning is a concern because of the significant emissions produced during the process - some with short range impact, such as the particulate emissions that cause cardiorespiratory problems; and others have a more global impact, like the sulphur dioxide and heavy metals that are responsible for acid rain.

With the growth of industry in India demanding more and more cheap electricity from coal fired power stations its unlikely this trend will reverse anytime soon.

The long term effects on air quality are troubling, and the continued demand for cheap products manufactured in China is driving us further into trouble.

Perhaps its time to think about the environmental, economic and social effects of that next cheap shiny gadget that tech-lust demands that you buy.


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