Go ahead and power up your (mercury-laced) compact fluorescent bulbs as you recycle your organic, locally grown, free range, fair trade egg cartons if it makes you feel better.
China’s coal use grew 9 percent in 2011, rising to 3.8 billion tons. At this point, the country is burning nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined.
Coal, of course, is the world’s premier fossil fuel, a low-cost source of electricity that kicks a lot of carbon-dioxide up into the atmosphere. And China’s growing appetite is a big reason why global greenhouse-gas emissions have soared in recent years, even as the United States and Europe have managed to curtail their coal use and cut their carbon pollution.
India is also growing rapidly and demanding ever more coal. By 2017, the IEA expects India to become the world’s second-largest coal consumer, surpassing the United States.
As you sit shivering at 60 degrees in your split level ranch house, think upon the typical Chinese peasant, warming his hands over a nice warm coal fire, about to help himself to another serving of General Gau’s chicken. (I don’t know why India needs coal; it never gets below 80 degrees there, does it?)
I’m thinking of taking up the Chinese lifestyle. Not only will I burn coal to heat my house (I might have to use briquettes), I’m going to poison my food, pour chemicals in my water, kill my daughter, and eat my dog. Maybe then I can understand them better.