China’s green revolution

READER'S VIEWS - The Freeman

China is polluted to an extent like no other country. Rivers and lakes abound with mercury and poisonous heavy metals, the air is fraught with dust and cancerogenous exhaust gases. The sky is dark with fog hiding the sun in a permanent haze. The mega-cities are now threatened by the expanding deserts or the rising sea levels.

In order to understand the enormity of the problems we must get a notion of the size of China. A total of 21% of all human beings live in China. They release 21% of global greenhouse gases. (In comparison: USA 18%, Russia 7.5 %, India 4%, Philippines 0.34%). More than 200 cities have over 1 million inhabitants and about 20 of them have about 18 million people. Chongqing with 35 million is by far the biggest agglomeration in the world. The town folks live in high-rise buildings with the comfort of New York, the glitter of Hollywood, and the offer of luxury articles of Paris. No shanty town, no joblessness, no poverty!

Urbanization necessitates an enormous amount of potable water, electricity, food, services, private and public transport and waste management. In China 480 tons of garbage are burned every minute and 100 tons of coal release their greenhouse gases every second into the atmosphere. In addition nomads and rural folks burn trees and brushwood for cooking and heating. Apart from the Chinese themselves, the Japanese and the Russians in Sakhalin are most affected. But the emissions travel around the world and contribute considerably to global warming. If China continues polluting the earth, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is illusory.

China signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016. President Xi Jinping is ambitious to reach climate neutrality way before 2050. A daring challenge but not impossible for that nation has astounded the world with numerous unimaginable accomplishments. He bets on innovative technologies and renewable energy:

Solar panels are produced and utilized on roofs and in solar parks in quantities not seen elsewhere.

The wind park in Gansu province is twelve times bigger than America’s biggest in Texas. Seven more of that size are projected in Gobi Desert and Inner Mongolia’s steppes.

The Three Gorges Dam in Yangtze River generates more electricity than any other hydro-electric factory. More than 100 dams are under construction.

China dismantles all the conventional coal-fired power stations and replaces them with more efficient and almost pollution free modern ones. The carbon dioxide is captured and filled in empty coal mines and exhausted oil fields among other technologies. The engineers work on a chimney-less power station that would bind sulfur in gypsum.

Apart from about 50 conventional nuclear power stations the Chinese operate two EPRs (Evolutionary Power Reactor), a third-generation pressurized water reactor in Taishan. They have begun constructing the first of 20 planned floating power plants of that type near their Paracel islands in the South China Sea.

Part of all that electricity will be used for monorail city trains and high-speed inter-city trains. Around 1,800 hybrid and fully electric cars are sold every hour. Millions of car-battery loading stations shoot up like mushrooms all over the country. Soon the sky will be blue again and mankind will live healthier lives thanks to China’s green revolution.

Erich Wannemacher

Lapu-Lapu City

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