More In This Article
CHONGQING—This year china surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And coal is largely to blame. The dirty black rock is burned everywhere, from industrial boilers to home stoves, and generates 75 percent of the nation’s electricity. More than 4,000 miners die every year digging the fossil fuel out of China’s heartland. One consequence of the country’s reliance on coal is most visible in the air. Smog cloaks cities, reducing the sky to little more than a blue patch amid a blanket of haze. As the pollution builds, it forms a brown cloud, visible from space, that in a week’s time crosses the Pacific Ocean to the western U.S., where it accounts for as much as 15 percent of the air pollution.
The haze means no true horizon can be seen when one is walking the streets of Chongqing, an inland port city on the Yangtze River that produces most of China’s motorcycles as well as other industrial goods. It seems the entire Rust Belt of the U.S. has been crammed into this “furnace of China,” as it is known—a single community of more than 30 million people, twice the size of the New York City metropolitan region.
This article was originally published with the title China's Energy Paradox.