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January 30 News: China Burning Nearly As Much Coal As The Rest Of The World

By Jeff Spross on January 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

"January 30 News: China Burning Nearly As Much Coal As The Rest Of The World"

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As of the end of 2011, China was burning nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. [WaPo]

China’s coal use grew 9 percent in 2011, rising to 3.8 billion tons. At this point, the country is burning nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined.

Coal, of course, is the world’s premier fossil fuel, a low-cost source of electricity that kicks a lot of carbon-dioxide up into the atmosphere. And China’s growing appetite is a big reason why global greenhouse-gas emissions have soared in recent years, even as the United States and Europe have managed to curtail their coal use and cut their carbon pollution.

Millions of people worldwide are fleeing their homes because of environmental disasters. But the conditions in which the refugees have to take up residence in neighboring countries isn’t regulated by international law. [DW]

A new study by the National Wildlife Federation has concluded that climate change in the United States is happening much faster than many of its animal species are able to respond and adapt. [USA Today]

With its carbon cap-and-trade system now up and running, California — the most populous state in the U.S. and the ninth biggest economy in the world — is ahead of the rest of the country in taking action on climate change. [Time]

While air travel only accounts for an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, that share is expected to grow as air travel becomes cheaper and more accessible. [The Economist]

According to a study by researchers at the Zoological Society of London and others, a mangrove forest shared by India and Bangladesh that’s home to possibly 500 Bengal tigers is being rapidly destroyed by erosion, rising sea levels and storm surges. [The Guardian]

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28 Responses to January 30 News: China Burning Nearly As Much Coal As The Rest Of The World

  1. John McCormick says:

    Astounding numbers.

    All the more reason why a bi-lateral approach to finding an accord with China should be a priority for President Obama.

    It has been proposed to the Administration that it should use Executive Orders to “get its house in order”. But that will take precious time we do not have.

    A better approach is to begin with US and China negotiating a long list of joint efforts while the White House issues those orders. That better approach can begin with bi-lateral agreements to make available high level officials for meetings in both capitals to spell out the steps each will announce to our nations as proof to the rest of the parties to the UNFCCC that the time has arrived for the two most powerful and emitting nations to address climate change as a (mutually agreed) national security matter.

    There is much evidence China understands the risks it faces in a warming world; particularly regarding food security.

    If we want President Obama to tackle climate change head on, we know he cannot go to the Hill. He can, however, go to Beijing to meet President Xi Jinping after the March National People’s Congress accepts him. The White House can arrange Xi’s visit to the US to give assurance this is a bi-lateral effort.

    Together, the two leaders can consider and initiate far-reaching actions that speak to the urgency to move forward on multiple programs (e.g.):

    A.) agricultural research to identify vulnerable crops around the globe with the help of CGIAR and government agencies

    B.) establish strategic metals stockpiles of copper, rare earth elements, titanium, etc. (components of future massive production of renewable, clean and efficient electricity (White House, working with Mayors, private sector, general public can announce a nationwide recycling program to get Americans to understand the degree of commitment the President has made to act)

    C.) creating a mutually agreed price on carbon and implementing it according to an agreed time table.

    D.) ………………through Z.)

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Well, for a start, the USA would need to cease its belligerence towards China, cease demanding that it change its social system, cease sailing its carrier groups just off China’s coast, cease its efforts to exclude China from the TPP Trade Treaty etc. Yeah, I know-it’s not going to happen. ‘Manifest Destiny’ and all that. Luckily the Chinese have 5000 years of civilizational experience, and 200 years of dealing with Western interference, and they are likely to keep their calm.The last thing humanity needs is a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ at this point in time.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        You beat me to it. Additional complications: insisting China play by the rules written by the rich and powerful to ensure the continued dominance of the rich and powerful, and the USA’s intransigence about historical emissions, ME

        • John McCormick says:

          Whoa, folks. I am not proposing continued western domination and undercutting China’s economic progress.

          Obama, with all his warts, made a commitment to future generations in his inaugural speech.

          He and we have nowhere else to go except to Beijing and plead that America and China come to our senses and save our childrens future.

          I’m too damned much of a dreamer but I see no other way than to take that next step back from the cliff.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            I agree with you 100%, John, but I do not see it happening, for the reasons I outline. The Chinese will go on seeking solutions, and will be joined by the USA when the American people come to their senses and remove the Rightwing genocidists from power.

  2. Colorado Bob says:

    Some drought stories , …….
    This one bears reading :
    ‘Flash drought’ started huge percent of U.S. problem

    KANSAS CITY, Mo.—During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, approximately 80 percent of the U.S. was in a moderate to extreme drought, and during 2012, at the drought peak, about 65 percent of the U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought, according to Brian Fuchs, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska.
    Drought to some degree was in at least isolated spots of every state in 2012 for the first time in history, he said during an educational presentation during the opening day of Ag Connect, the agricultural machinery show.

    http://www.agprofessional.com/news/Flash-drought-started-huge-percent-of-US-problem-188989511.html

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    Denver Water says because of drought conditions in 2012, Colorado is starting the year with reservoirs only 65 percent full. They would like levels to be at 81 percent.

    http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/313474/346/Snowfall-didnt-make-a-dent-in-overall-drought

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    Drought results in no water allocation

    This graph shows the precipitation levels of the Gila Valley for the past 100 years. Bill Brandau presented the graph to the Safford City Council during a presentation by the Gila Watershed Partnership.

    http://www.eacourier.com/news/drought-results-in-no-water-allocation/image_45e63e3c-6a79-11e2-9f5a-001a4bcf887a.html

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    As towns and cities along Australia’s eastern seaboard cope with flooding in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, rainfall figures from the Bureau of Meteorology underscore the scale of the deluge.
    Among major population centres, Gladstone appears to have copped the heaviest falls. The coastal Queensland city registered 819.8 millimetres of rain in the four days to Sunday, not far shy of its annual average rainfall of 883 millimetres.
    The most exceptional feature of this storm is the extent of the extremes along a very long distance of coast

    In fact, those four days exceeded the previous monthly record for the city of 768.7 millimetres, back in February 1911, according to Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at the bureau.

    Gladstone collected more rain over the four days than it did during the whole of 2011 or 2012.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/rainfall-records-swamped-amid-oswald-onslaught-20130129-2dill.html#ixzz2JTMLazKS

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      With just four of five extra percent of water vapour. Imagine the deluges of 2050, or 2020 for that matter. Is there added H2O vapour in the atmosphere during El Nino events, if they still occur, or less?

      • David B. Benson says:

        El Nino events make the globe slightly warmer so one supposes there is slightly more water vapor.

      • Paul Magnus says:

        I always wondered how mountains developed those scoured landscapes.

        The flash floods and landslides of the future are going to be biblical.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    China, like the US, is schizophrenic about climate change, a result of dueling agendas at the top. Those who have concern for the future have been defeated in both countries, but change is more possible than people realize. Majorities in China and the US want to see steps taken, including closing coal plants.

    Private negotiations between the two countries at the ministerial level would be a good start. Let’s hope that Obama and Kerry follow through here.

  7. john atcheson says:

    We’re toast.

  8. David Goldstein says:

    Isn’t this the only thing we really need to know about the ‘race’ in China between GHGs and aerosals?:
    1) China is pumping MASSIVE amounts of heat damping aerosals into the atmosphere- as a result the effects of the build-up of GHGs are being mitigated
    2) China is pumping MASSIVE amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere
    3) At some point the pollution causing aerosals will have to be reined in, if only for the day-to-day health and livability, especially in the cities. And so…
    4) Aerosals have an approximate 2-3 life atmospheric life span. CO2 has a hundreds of years long life span.
    5) Well…you can figure out the rest.

  9. Bruce S says:

    If 3.7 tons of Co2 are emitted for every ton of coal burned worldwide 8.1 billion tons coal used = 30 billion tons Co2. Half to the atmosphere , one quarter to terrestrial biomass and the remaining quarter to acidifying the oceans. Trends look linear , harsh.

    • Solar Jim says:

      Trends of contaminants from humans (such as carbonic acid gas) may be somewhat linear but the response is observed to be non-lineal, such as exponential. You are correct about the 3.666 factor, however your conclusion is in error. The many different species of coal (remains of ancient forests) are not 100% carbon.

  10. Solar Jim says:

    Isn’t it interesting that we measure this “energy resource” in tons, which is not a unit of energy, but of matter? Perhaps we shall perish because we do not understand the difference between matter and “energy.”

  11. Mark E says:

    Meaningless statistic.

    Since much of that coal is burned to produce export goods, the appropriate share needs to be attributed to each nation that is paying China to do the coal burning on their behalf. The rest is the “real” Chinese share.

  12. Bruce S says:

    Solar Jim , I thought 30 sounded to large , can you make a better estimate? The bottom line is 5 gt to 8 gt in a little over a decade. Bad trend line for a dirty fuel.

  13. Paul Klinkman says:

    Tornado season is from March 15 to May 15. January shouldn’t be tornado season.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe start to boycott countries who do not ban coal?

    • Mark E says:

      Don’t forget to ban countries that ban coal but still import coal-produced goods.

      How much of what we call “China’s” coal consumption really belongs to us, because we are paying them to burn it so they can make stuff for us?

  15. Paul Magnus says:

    Must see Colbert program on climate change…

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/450637#i0,p11,d0

    at least it will cheer you up from this…

    THE GORE SYNTHESIS: WHERE WE ARE NOW, WHERE WE ARE HEADING, AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/the-gore-synthesis-where-we-are-now-where-we-are-heading-and-what-we-need-to-do/