Thursday, March 22, 2007

China, the US, and India Lead Global Coal-Burning Binge

According to an analysis by the Christian Science Monitor of plans around the world to build coal-fired power plants during the next five years, pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will reach new levels, with these plants adding another 1.2 billion tons of this greenhouse gas each year. Coal-burning plants are being planned in 37 countries including eight in the European Union which has taken the lead in fighting global warming. China, the US, and India in that order are planning on building the most new coal-fired generating capacity. According to the Monitor, if all these plants in the 37 countries are built by 2012 there would be 7,474 coal-fired plants in the world pouring out 9 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, a healthy slice of the predicted 31 billion tons from all sources. One ominous note pointed out in the article is that this amount of carbon dioxide exceeds the “business as usual” projections of most climate models. Considering the catastrophic consequences of the business as usual predictions for climate change already being churned out by the models this is worrisome indeed.

It hard to come to any other conclusion that we are on a reckless course to disaster. Nevertheless, many conservatives are still clinging to an outdated ideology that opposes government regulation of industry and the need for tax increases (carbon tax) to shape public policy and hence refuse to acknowledge the obvious. Without a political consensus in the US the path out of this mess appears to be blocked.

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