Congrads to the misguided kids in America who protest and want to send coal mining over seas where there are little if any regulations. Exe Dir
Coal choking Chinese cities
Michael Sheridan, Beijing
January 01, 2007
A GREAT coal rush is under way across China on a scale not seen anywhere since the 19th century. Its consequences have been detected half a world away in toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and heart and lung diseases.
Nonetheless, the Chinese plan to build no fewer than 500 new coal-fired power stations, adding to some 2000, most of them unmodernised, that spew smoke, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.
The political fallout of that decision is likely to challenge the foundations on which other developed nations have built their climate change policy - even as there are signs that Chinese citizens are at last rebelling against lives spent in poisonous conditions.
Cloaked in swirling mists of soot particles and smoke, cities such as China's "coal capital" of Datong are entering the coldest period of winter, in which demand for heating produces the worst pollution.
It is often darkness at noon in Datong, just 260km west of Beijing, where vehicles drive in daytime with their headlights on.
One of the four filthiest towns in China, it stands at the heart of the nation's coal belt in Shanxi province, a region that mines more coal every year than Britain, Russia and Germany combined.
Cancer rates are soaring, child health is a time bomb and the people are paying the price for China's breakneck rush to riches and industrialisation - an estimated 400,000 premature deaths nationwide because of pollution every year.
For the first time, the Chinese media have reported a revolt among the choking citizens of Shanxi. More than 90 per cent of people surveyed by the provincial bureau for environmental protection said economic growth can not go on at such an appalling cost.
That puts them on a collision course with their rulers - the same survey, reported by the China Youth Daily, found that 90 per cent of mayors and local cadres opposed any moves to protect the environment that might slow the economy.
It is not hard to find the reason why. One mine boss in Shanxi named Zhang owns three Rolls-Royces of different colours plus a fleet of other luxury cars for his extended family.
Coal is king in China. The nation's hunger for energy appears insatiable. Oil is too expensive. Nuclear power is a distant option.
So China is digging furiously and fast in more than 21,000 mines. Coal output has doubled in the past five years. The nation will use 2.5 billion tonnes in 2007.
"If we don't protect our environment, our economic miracle will soon come to an end," said Pan Yue, the outspoken head of the Government's state environmental protection bureau.
"Acid rain falls on one third of China's land, most of our biggest seven rivers are poisoned, a quarter of our people have no clean drinking water and a third of them breathe polluted air," he said. China is not bound by the Kyoto protocol, the international agreement to limit emissions of climate-changing gases.
Now Britain and other signatories to the controversial Kyoto accords face the prospect that they may in effect be made redundant by Chinese growth - plus the fact that the US, the world's biggest polluter, has refused to sign.
Beijing has proved unable to compel local leaders to spend money on filters that could cut sulphur emissions from smoke stacks by 95 per cent. Nor will they buy new Western technology for power stations, which could operate more cleanly.
A clean future seems a distant dream - and the Rolls-Royces have to be washed every day.
The Sunday Times