Think back to 30 years ago – to when the adults of today were in their teens. It was a different world back then. Talk of climate change and energy shortages was non-existent. Now we live in a different world. The youth of today knows and, to some extent, understands the crisis we live in. Most of us to our best to not be wasteful, try to stay up to date on what is happening, and keep an eye out for ways to help. I for one am hopeful that our government and our worldly citizens can make a change for the better. But are we fighting a losing battle? Despite the efforts put in by so many people, have we already lost the war?
This last year China invested over $54 million on clean energy. They were actually the biggest investors in the clean energy market worldwide. You may be thinking “Hey! This is great news! A change is being made.” And you’re right, to some extent. A change is being made, but it could be too little too late.
It is common knowledge that China boasts the largest population of any country. However, it takes a lot of energy to support a population that big. Energy that comes from coal. Coal causes so much pollution in Chinese cities that it makes it extremely difficult just to breathe. In fact, in China, coal usage has doubled over the past 10 years, despite increased awareness of its detrimental impact.
“But you just said they are the number one investors of clean energy!” True. Very true. Just, don’t get too excited. The environmental change can’t and won’t happen overnight. To support a population the size of China, coal is a necessary evil. It supplies 70% of Chinese power and cannot be replaced without causing cataclysmic problems. And their population is still growing, thus requiring more energy and power.
So, the issue becomes this: do we help our people by improving their standard of living with increased amounts of electricity or do we save our planet by cutting our coal usage and trying to replace it with as much renewable energy as we can? Either way there are going to be immediate consequences. If they help the people China is only going to become more polluted, but if they cut back on coal the standard of living will drop rapidly.
Has China waited too long to start their environmental change? Do they depend too greatly on coal to give it up? Has the battle already been lost?
By Jessica Auger