World wages war with coal: China’s losing battle

A few weeks ago, emphasis on China’s growing pollution obtained another hit as an article was released referring to the Asian country’s problem as having reached a “hazardous” level.

News about the aforementioned country portrays scenes in Beijing wherein a number of people wearing masks are not unusual. The demand for this handy protective gear may be considered above average that they have already been customized with cartoons, candid stitches and designs that more or less imply the intrusion into the daily choice of clothing and fashion. Children, young, and old people are wearing them, especially if one is to venture outside the comfort and security of your own home.

Smog has in fact gotten bad enough that in an online news article just days ago, flights have been cancelled due to poor visibility, reduced to a mere 100 meters. Respiratory problems were more or less typical, highlighting the discouraging scene where small children had to take to oxygen masks as treatment. Locals were advised to stay indoors and approximately a hundred heavy-polluting factories were ordered to suspend production.

This issue was further heightened by the latest findings of the U.S. Energy Information Administration that shows how China’s coal consumption greatly rivals that of the whole world—combined.

It should be understood that coal is a fossil fuel, composed primarily of carbon hydrogen and oxygen. The carbon it contains is what makes coal as one of those that contribute highly to the problem of carbon emissions. In developing countries, though environmental and more eco-friendly efforts have been introduced, these are yet to be fully implemented, which is understandable as alternative means that have been discovered and are being put to good use still rival old-fashioned processes that have cheaper costs of utilizing materials such as coal.

Part of the issue for the continuous use of coal is that it is definitely cheaper. This is probably the main reason why despite the danger coal represents with regard to health and the environment, it remains the choice source of carbon emission for developing countries such as China. In Beijing, the use of coal appears to be continuously rising, even if a bit slower in recent years. And this ongoing problem doesn’t just pose a terrifying risk for the Chinese but also to the rest of the globe.

The implications for health and environment are staggering, considering problems of lung cancer, increase of carbon dioxide that definitely does not help our greenhouse weather. The byproducts of coal-powered plants and coal-making are hazardous to health and this fact is even more pronounced as byproducts are generated in hundreds of millions.

Around the globe, increasing awareness of the problems posed by pollution to our environment, and consequentially to us, has the majority struggling to reverse the damage already done. For certain first-world countries, it’s more than just about curing the sickness. Nowadays, nearly everyone is trying to consciously provide more effort in cutting off the problem by its head. Why aim for simply solving the problem when one can avoid the problem?

One can note the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles for one. Electric cars, solar-powered batteries, hydroelectric plants, even environmental-friendly building structures that seek to minimize the utilization of energy fueled by raw materials. In the U.S., the Alternative Travel Project simply encourages its participants to use other means of transportation other than driving your own car. Taking public transportation to decrease the amount of private vehicles on the road is also a step worth mentioning.

And yet, despite the rest of the world’s battle against use of debilitating fuels and sources of energy, developing countries like China still cannot do without. A study from the International Energy Agency even has predicted that 2017 may even add India as a country that could even rival that of China’s amount of consumption of coal.

So where does that leave the rest of the world who strive to right our wrongs?

Then perhaps if we are indeed looking to avoid the problem, we could start by helping out our fellow countries in following the footsteps to a greener path. After all, we only have one world and any way to help preserve this world we have is more than worth it in the long run.

~M. A. Gumapac


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