Reply To: Future with coal certain but carbon capture an idea

Martin W

    Another strong AP article on coal use – focusing on China’s massive and growing demand for coal. Includes:

    Cheap and abundant, coal has become the fuel of choice in much of the world, powering economic booms in China and India that have lifted millions of people out of poverty. Worldwide demand is projected to rise by about 60 percent through 2030 to 6.9 billion tons a year, most of it going to electrical power plants. But the growth of coal-burning is also contributing to global warming, and is linked to environmental and health issues including acid rain and asthma. Air pollution kills more than 2 million people prematurely, according to the World Health Organization. "Hands down, coal is by far the dirtiest pollutant," said Dan Jaffe, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington who has detected pollutants from Asia at monitoring sites on Mount Bachelor in Oregon and Cheeka Peak in Washington state. "It is a pretty bad fuel on all scores." …

    With pressure to clean up major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, particularly in the run-up to next year’s Beijing Olympics, the central government is turning increasingly to provinces such as Shanxi to meet the country’s power demands. "They look at polluted places like Taiyuan and say it’s so polluted there so it doesn’t matter if they have another five power plants," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, a senior fellow at Resources For the Future, an American think tank that found links between air pollution and rising hospital admissions in Taiyuan. "I visited these power plants and there is no concept of pollution control," he said. "They sort of had a laugh and asked, ‘Why would you expect us to install pollution control equipment?’" China is home to 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, according to a World Bank report. Health costs related to air pollution total $68 billion a year, nearly 4 percent of the country’s economic output, the report said. And acid rain has contaminated a third of the country, Sheng Huaren, a senior Chinese parliamentary official, said last year. It is said to destroy some $4 billion worth of crops every year. "What we are facing in China is enormous economic growth, and … China is paying a price for it," said Henk Bekedam, the country representative for the World Health Organization. "Their growth is not sustainable from an environmental perspective. The good news is that they realize it. The bad news is they’re dependent on coal as an energy source."

    But the costs go far beyond China. The soot from power plants boosts global warming because coal emits almost twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas. And researchers from Texas A&M University found that air pollution from China and India has increased in cloud cover and major Pacific Ocean storms by 20 percent to 50 percent over the past 20 years. … "Everyone knows coal is dirty, but there is no way that China can get rid of coal," the World Bank’s Zhao Jianping said in Beijing. "It must rely on it for years to come, until humans can find a new magic solution."

    World’s coal dependency hits environment

    World’s growing dependence on coal leaving a trail of environmental devastation across globe

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