The Sleeping Dragon Awakes – Social Responsibility and Climate Change
With the U.S. always at blame for indifference and causing so much havoc to the environment, recent strides to control and reduce consumption of fossil fuels are showing results. Without exception, Western Europe takes the leadership role for moving away from fossil fuels and its environmental stewardship.
The world today is more complex than ever and must be viewed as one large community. Changes in one sector can be overshadowed by others that have a more pronounced impact on the overall landscape. The use of fossil fuels are controlled nation-by-nation, but must be looked at globally.
Current date from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) for the United Nations ranks China (6.1), U.S. (5.7), Russia (1.56), India (1.51), and Japan (1.3) as the top carbon dioxide-producing nations (total CO2 emissions in billion metric tons per year). Therefore with the U.S. in the second position and falling, the long-term concern emanates from China.
Using energy consumption growth trends from 2002 to 2008, China’s energy usage could exceed 100 billion tons of standard coal in 2050, more than the Earth’s capacity to sustain and far more than the 16.1 billion tons of standard coal the entire planet consumed in 2008.
A February 28, 2011, New York Times report by Andrew Jacobs, “China Issues Warning on Climate and Growth,” stated “China’s environment minister (Zhou Shengxian) issued an unusually stark warning about the effects of unbridled development on the country’s air, water and soil, saying the nation’s current path could stifle long-term economic growth and feed social instability. Ignoring such risks, Mr. Zhou said, would be perilous. The remarks come at a time of unrelenting environmental degradation that has accompanied double-digit economic growth.”
“In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” he wrote. “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.”
Going back to 2009, two-year study, supported by the U.S.-based Energy Foundation and the international environmental group WWF stated “If China’s economy continues to expand rapidly and rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels until the middle of the century, its power consumption would be unsustainable.”
The study further suggested “if China’s energy usage structure remains unchanged, its emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming would reach 17 billion tons a year by 2050. That would represent 60 percent of total global emissions and three times China’s current production.”
“The researchers said global warming will challenge China more than many other countries, with its developed east coast cities contending with rising sea levels, and already drought-prone agricultural areas suffering further water shortages.”
At the time, Premier Wen Jiabao, said the government will accelerate a shift away from fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas.
The question remains whether China’s rhetoric will finally translate into true action. If not, improvements made on the global front may not amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.