China: Energy and Development on a Mind Boggling Scale

May 29, 2012

Another from the “Earth: The Operator’s Manual” series.  Worth watching just to try absorbing the scale of the change we will witness in the next few decades.

Also worth pondering, as climate deniers desperately attempt to put the brakes on our inevitable transition to renewables – will they succeed only in handing China global technological leadership for the coming century?

4 Responses to “China: Energy and Development on a Mind Boggling Scale”

  1. ahaveland Says:

    Kind of ironic… how China’s opening up, the internet, globalization and technology allowed inevitable entrepreneurial greed to be able to outsource, exploit cheap labour and import cheap products for the US and EU domestic markets.
    It was good for the early adopters, but forced competitors to follow and catch up or go under.

    The energy required to meet demand forced China to use quick dirty sources, so America’s emissions were just swept under the carpet and translocated there.

    The result of this is clear – American corporations’ relative domestic competitiveness is back where it started, but with a poorer and almost bankrupt economy because China and Asia now have all their money.
    The oil-crazed middle-east interventions sowed seeds for 911 and caused massively expensive wars in terms of lives lost and trillions wasted.
    The subprime crimes completed the perfect storm and the West is still reeling.
    And, not least world GHG emissions have still skyrocketed, and America incomprehensibly still sees fossil fuels, tarsands and fracking as a way forward.

    Mining tar sands is like raiding ashtrays for nicotine on a biblical scale, and fracking for shale-gas can release more “fugitive methane”, cancelling any benefit in reducing CO2 emissions. Now with a glut of shale-gas, it’ll reduce the perceived urgency of transitioning. (If you knew that the next cigarette you smoke will be the one to give you lung-cancer, would you still smoke it?)

    As the anthropocenic age begins, China now has all the cards and can afford to play them cleanly, leapfrog old technologies and make amends for emissions. They are not constrained by the broken American partisan political system that can only think half-a-term ahead because the next administration may reverse course.
    China’s culture thinks decades into the future, and will follow through.

    Next target for exploitation will be Africa, assuming that they can stop fighting for more than a few years, deal with corruption and improve education. They will eclipse the Tiger Economy and become the Lion Economy.

    If America doesn’t improve its political and education system by that time, even Ghana might be outsourcing to American sweatshops.

  2. Nick Carter Says:

    Very powerfully put, ahaveland. I particularly like the ash tray-nicotine analysis. And while I read about all this development in China, I also read about China’s plan to raise its imports on cheap coal. The US coal industry is actively working on developing a coal export infrastructure because the exported product will be cheap for China. My curiosity is with why China is so hungry for coal if they’re ostensibly working toward all these new sources. Very daunting, to say the least.


  3. The notion of pumping the building block of the biosphere back underground is so expensively stupid it will never be economic ( which means “contributes to positively to human welfare” ) . Growing algae with it and the H2O released with it in combustion with the waste heat in cooling ponds may well make economic sense .

  4. For the answer to your questions, check out this video.

    They have adopted 1st world growth and consumption. With exponential growth comes exponential demand. Unfortunately, the well will run dry soon. One reason is that China’s net energy consumption is rising rapidly and most of it is from coal. If they continued to consume coal at that spiraling rate, they would run out of their domestic coal in 40 years or so. Already feeling the pinch, they are seeking external sources to supply demand.

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