Sunday, November 15, 2009

China and environment

Recently there have been some discussion on China’s rapid development, industrialization, increased pollution and destruction of environment such as deforestation.
China, as a developing country, can do so much. It has done its share so far. It is unfair to say China is the world polluter #1 or #2. You need to take out pollution due to production of goods for export. Then, you calculate pollution per capita. From this calculation, US is #1 and China is way, way down. China pollutes only 1/4 of US on per capita basis.

* It is #1 or #2 in most renewable energy such as solar, hydro and wind energy.
* China is blessed with coal, but lacks oil resource. Coal generates heat via burning the carbon and it can never be cleaned even with the best technology from the west/US, which can improve less carbon monoxide and acid-rain-causing SO2.
* The better quality of coal is in the north east. Transporting coal from this area to urban cities adds pollution. It is more effective with barges.
* Grid to distribute energy in China is primitive at best. It needs a lot of technology from the west/US plus its own development to exploit and copy/enhance the technology. Made In China on grid technology is idealistic but still has a long way to go.
Hydro and nuclear generators when strategically located would cut down the grid dependency and transportation of coal for certain area.

A wind farm is idle due to it is not connected to the grid.

* Nuclear generation is very aggressive, but it is a small percentage of the total output of energy. All are foreign technology. China copied and developed the pebble nuclear technology which is promising for safety/cost but its capacity is very limited.
* The priority to highways (auto) and some air transportation should take a back seat to public transportation such as subways, trains, HSR…The recent cut in gas subsidy is a good measure.

* It has transformed a small scale of semi desert to livable land in the north west. The big impact will be from the diversion of water from south to north/west. This semi desert will turn to oasis easier than real desert. Will see the cost/benefit.

* China has about 1/4 of the average water per capita and Bijing about 1/30.

How ironic the #1 polluter of the world (based on per capita) accuses China, which does not even make to the top 10?

1 comment:

  1. US is easier to conserve than most other countries, like a fat guy tightening his belt. US has consumed too much of the world resources and polluted too much. For starter, they should not buy the gas guzzlers like SUVs long time ago. Their houses should not been that huge (mine is over 3,000 sq ft and I’m not even rich by any standard – shame on me) and houses should be closer.

    On the contrary, urban living conserves energy by providing efficient public transportation (if handled properly) and high rise apartment complexes. Bicycles for densely-populated urban are not efficient to conserve energy. It works in some less-populated and richer cities in Europe but not in SH, BJ and HK… I can tell you if allowed in busy streets, bicycles will cause a lot of traffic accidents in HK.

    China has the tendency to solve one question with full steam at one time. Pollution is taking a back seat to economy. corruption = rich wo power + powerful wo money. So, rich business wants the powerful local government to ignore pollution. It is another example of my funny formula.

    The one child policy reduces population and conserves world resources. Of course, there are side effects, but they’re outnumbered by the benefits. Compare the drawbacks/benefits to India and some S. American countries where having babies is a sport.

    The government can set up policies (like one child policy and pollution policy) and enforce them in addition to set up infrastructure like better public transportation. It is up to the citizens to do their share individually like buying a smaller car, using public transportation… When you’re rich, you drive a big fancy car, live in a big house, do not bag left over eating out… as money is no object to you. However, if you’re more environmental conscious, you may not do the above.