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As US Cleans Its Energy Mix, It Ships Coal Problems Overseas 275

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-my-problem dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Thomas K. Grose reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that greenhouse gas emissions in the US have fallen 8 percent from their 2007 peak to 6,703 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, due largely to the drop in coal-fired electricity which in 2012 generated 37.4 percent of US electricity, down from 50 percent in 2005. But don't celebrate just yet. A major side effect of that cleaner air in the US has been the further darkening of skies over Europe and Asia as US coal producers have been shipping the most carbon-intensive fuel to energy-hungry markets overseas. US coal exports to China were on track to double last year and demand for US metallurgical coal, the high-heat content coking coal that is used for steelmaking, is so great in Asia that shipments make a round-the-world journey from Appalachia as they are sent by train to the port of Baltimore, where they steam to sea through the Chesapeake Bay, then south across the Atlantic Ocean and around Africa's Cape of Good Hope to reach Asian ports. The Tyndall Center study estimates that the burning of all that exported coal could erase fully half the gains the United States has made in reducing carbon emissions and if the trend continues, the dramatic changes in energy use in the United States — in particular, the switch from coal to newly abundant natural gas for generating electricity — will have only a modest impact on global warming, observers warn. 'Without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions,' write Dr John Broderick and Prof Kevin Anderson. 'For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely; in effect displaced coal must stay in the ground (PDF).'"
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As US Cleans Its Energy Mix, It Ships Coal Problems Overseas

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  • NIMBY... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by rmdingler (1955220)
    O-8.
    • Re:NIMBY... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:15AM (#43202373)
      PLEASE put a Nuke plant in my backyard.

      Worst case scenario, the plant melts down, and I get relocated. Boo hoo. In exchange, I get a 100% change of not having to breathe coal ash, or any other noxious byproducts of coal burning plants. And the CO2 produced by a nuclear plant is negligible, basically non-existent compared to even 'clean' natural gas'.

      I like those odds.

      And nuclear waste? Use it to generate power, dipshits. The more radioactive the waste, the hotter it is, and the more useful it is to generate power. Throw it in a pool, insulate it, and use it as a heat source for a sterling engine or something...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nedlohs (1335013)

        You have a remarkably stupid idea of what "worst case" means.

        • Re:NIMBY... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:36AM (#43202459)

          Why is that?

          Assuming he is not on the plant site that is exactly what would happen. People in the surrounding areas would be relocated.

          Of course you could go look at what happens when a coal slurry pond breaks.

        • by RevDisk (740008)
          I lived within half a mile of the worst civil nuclear disaster in America, Three Mile Island. No one died, cancer rates are normal, etc. I agree with the Anon Coward.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jythie (914043)
        On the other hand, your home owner's insurance costs jump significantly. Living near a nuclear plant is surprisingly expensive.
        • Not really, take a look at the fine print on your own policy, most (if not all) insurance companies won't cover you for nuclear contamination
        • Re:NIMBY... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:27AM (#43202851)
          Bullshit. I live less than 5 miles from the oldest active nuclear plant in the country, and it has absolutely no effect on homeowner's insurance rates. You know what does? Having a pool with a diving board or a trampoline.
      • Throw it in a pool, insulate it, and use it as a heat source for a sterling engine or something...

        Remind me never to go swimming in your heated pool. Not that you'd have room for one with a nuclear power plant in your backyard.

        • Relevent (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          You would be getting less radiation in the pool than where you are now. Oblig: Spent Fuel Pool [xkcd.com]
          • I apologize to AC, I would go swimming in his slightly-heated swimming pool anytime. Although I have heard AC suggest some pretty sick shit before. Maybe not.
        • Re:NIMBY... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:27AM (#43202853) Journal

          You really need to start reading What if? [xkcd.com].

          Swimming to the bottom, touching your elbows to a fresh fuel canister, and immediately swimming back up would probably be enough to kill you.
          Yet outside the outer boundary, you could swim around as long as you wanted—the dose from the core would be less than the normal background dose you get walking around. In fact, as long as you were underwater, you would be shielded from most of that normal background dose. You may actually receive a lower dose of radiation treading water in a spent fuel pool than walking around on the street.

      • Re:NIMBY... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SpaceMonkies (2868125) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:59AM (#43203093)
        The US drop is because of the drop in Nat Gas prices, not wind turbines or Solar, etc. Both Germany and Denmark have installed many times the $ investment per capita in 'green' energy that the US has done, to no effect. In fact Germany is increasing coal consumption and moving to coal based electricity. In short the green energy revolution has failed, where a simple price change on gas has worked. Pollution is caused by the burners, not the diggers. You can bet that US coal is extracted in a safer, cleaner way than almost all other coal on the planet. If coal is to be burned, then US coal is the best way to do it.
        • by Ichijo (607641)

          Germany is increasing coal consumption not because its investment in green energy has failed, but because it is shutting down nuclear reactors in the wake of Fukushima.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:01AM (#43202247)

    It seems like they're trying really hard in this article to make it seem like the reduction of coal in the US will have no effect, while not being able to escape the fact that it does. For example, they use phrases like:

    ... could erase fully half the gains the United States has made ...

    "fully half...," why not just say half? because fully half sounds worse.

    will have only a modest impact on global warming

    "only a modest impact...," but still an impact. I don't want to downplay the issue, but I really do think they're overplaying it. Rather than having a article that is based in fact, we get this apparently biased piece of journalism that brings to question the integrity of the article.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HeckRuler (1369601)

      Yeah, "a modest impact", hell, if we somehow eliminated coal all-together it might only have a modest impact. I believe the whole "how much are we going to have to change, and for what results?" is still one of those topics that's up for debate. Real meaningful debate, not the mindless droning of the politicians who still can't accept that the environmentalists were right about something.

    • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:54AM (#43202575) Journal

      Not to mention the entire slant of the article trying to blame the US for other countries' energy consumption appetites.

      How about "As the US succeeds at cleaning its energy mix, other countries using the coal instead."?

      But that might make us out to be something other than the Great Satan, surely?

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:45AM (#43202983) Homepage

        Agreed. When the US burns oil they don't blame whoever sold it to us, and that seems appropriate. It makes sense to regulate pollution-production at the point where it becomes pollution.

        And does metallurgical use of coal actually produce much in the way of Greenhouse gases? Companies aren't going to have super-high-quality coal shipped all the way around the world just to feed some fire that could just be as easily fed with cheaper local fuel. That is a low-impurity source of carbon that is going to end up getting incorporated into the steel itself - it is a raw material, not a fuel. The only way that carbon will end up in the atmosphere is if somebody burns the resulting girders. I'm sure some of it gets lost during manufacture, but companies already have incentive to minimize that as much as possible if they're paying so much to acquire it.

        The same is true of oil used to make plastics and other petrochemicals. If you burn oil as fuel it produces greenhouse gases, but there are lots of uses for oil which do not release much CO2 into the atmosphere, and for these uses companies already have lots of incentive to minimize waste (it is expensive to dispose of under a proper regulatory regime, and it represents mass that could have gone into a useful product that would make money instead of costing money).

        So, don't yell at the people producing resources. Yell at the people who are taking valuable materials and just burning them in unclean ways.

      • by delt0r (999393)
        What is not clear is that the coal export increase has anything to do with reduction in coal use internally. At least in the EU good coke/coal for steel is something that is always worth the $$ and local sources tend to be a bit on the brown side. Demand is driven by steel demand/price. So that increase was probably going to happen anyway.

        Having said that, per capita energy use in the US (and still CO2 footprint) is about 2x that of Europe.
    • It seems like they're trying really hard in this article to make it seem like the reduction of coal in the US will have no effect, while not being able to escape the fact that it does. For example, they use phrases like:

      ... could erase fully half the gains the United States has made ...

      "fully half...," why not just say half? because fully half sounds worse.

      will have only a modest impact on global warming

      "only a modest impact...," but still an impact. I don't want to downplay the issue, but I really do think they're overplaying it. Rather than having a article that is based in fact, we get this apparently biased piece of journalism that brings to question the integrity of the article.

      And why even mention metallurgical coal? The whole idea of coking coal is to drive off as much of the hydrogen and trace impurities while leaving the carbon to be used in making steel. Conflating demand for metallurical coal with coal used for electricity generation makes no sense unless your only goal is to sensationalize.

      Cheers,
      Dave

    • There does seem to be some serious language bias. More concerning is the idea that merely using less US-produced coal domestically would change things - if you're producing it, you're going to sell it to someone who's going to burn it. I guess some lobbyists didn't like the idea of reducing the sum of coal dug up domestically and imported. You know, something that would actually make a difference.

  • by pseudofrog (570061) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:02AM (#43202255)
    China is using more coal. Let's blame America, not the annual movement of tens of millions of people from poverty to the middle class.

    Sheesh.
    • by akb (39826)

      The middle class in China still emit a fraction of the GHG per capita that the middle class in the US does. Not to mention that a large amount of China's GHG emissions are actually used in the production of goods for export.

      There will need to be a real global treaty on GHG emissions under which the US will emit less per capita, China somewhat more per capita, and carbon content of trade will need to be factored in.

      • by Smidge204 (605297) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:27AM (#43202429) Journal

        The middle class in China still emit a fraction of the GHG per capita that the middle class in the US does.

        All the per-capita data I've ever seen does not break out the data by "class" / income bracket. Where are you getting this information from?
        =Smidge=

        • by alexander_686 (957440) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:07AM (#43202667)

          True – but I think it is a reasonable assumption. Factor in that China’s middle class earns about a 1/3 of developed nations – that implies lower energy usage and lower CO2 emissions. I would think this was true even after you factor in that China relies heavily on dirty coal. (Now, start projecting 20 years in the future when middle class income is closer to developed country levels.)

          • by Rockoon (1252108)
            Pretty sure you cannot project out 20 years and make a claim about middle class income levels in China without having at least two points of data rather than the one point of data (1/3rd) you seem to be using.

            But hey, I am not a mathematics professor.. maybe it is possible to compute the derivative of a single value.
      • by khallow (566160) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:49AM (#43202541)

        There will need to be a real global treaty on GHG emissions under which the US will emit less per capita, China somewhat more per capita, and carbon content of trade will need to be factored in.

        Well, let's see first if that "need" will exist in a few centuries or not. I'll just quote this bit from the abstract [tyndall.ac.uk] of the article that spurred this slashdot article:

        There has been a substantial increase in coal exports from the US over this time period (2008-2011) and globally, coal consumption has continued to rise. As we discussed in our previous report (Broderick et al. 2011), without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions. For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely; in effect displaced coal must stay in the ground. The availability of shale gas does not guarantee this. Likewise, new renewable generating capacity may cause displacement without guaranteeing that coal is not burned, but it does not directly release carbon dioxide emissions through generation.

        Note that natural gas displaced coal consumption in the US (and hence, generate a modest drop in global emissions though overwhelmed by demand for coal in the developing world), but the writer chooses to cast that as "The availability of shale gas doesn't guarantee this." I wager there aren't much in the way of "guarantees" in climatology. The abstract also asserts without proof that a 2C increase in global mean temperature is "dangerous".

        Scientists shouldn't be propagandists.

      • by JazzLad (935151)
        I've always questioned the usefulness of the expression "a fraction of" except when trying to exaggerate a claim. This is not to say you are doing so, but there is a massive difference between 1/32, 9/10 and 3/2 though they are all valid fractions. I make a fraction of what I made during the Bush administration, fortunately for me the numerator is greater than the denominator in this fraction.
      • The problem with China is GDP output per greenhouse gas emission. It is the one of the worst in the world, AND China has a fast growing economy, already 2nd only to the US in size.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_ratio_of_GDP_to_carbon_dioxide_emissions [wikipedia.org]

        For example China emits 5x more greenhouse gasses per $ GDP than the US. And the US is not particularly efficient.

        • by akb (39826)

          Certainly true, though don't forget the composition of the economies are very different. China's is manufacturing heavy because of low labor costs, hence more carbon intensity. The US economy is service heavy, sitting at desks is less carbon intense. As China's economy matures its manufacturing / service balance should change and labor costs will rise so carbon intensity should naturally drop to a degree. This is not to say that they shouldn't have incentives to invest in more efficient processes, this

    • by theVarangian (1948970) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:38AM (#43202469)

      China is using more coal. Let's blame America, not the annual movement of tens of millions of people from poverty to the middle class. Sheesh.

      America is cleaning up it's energy generation by using marginally cleaner natural gas and sells surplus polluting coal to eager Asian customers. Political pundits in the US then try to sucker the public into believing this is better for the environment.

      Some of us are not fooled and call bullshit...

      • by pseudofrog (570061) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:45AM (#43202513)
        Everything I've seen says that natural gas is two to three times cleaner than coal. That's not "marginally" cleaner; it's a significant improvement, and it is clearly better for the environment than sticking with coal.

        And the US isn't forcing Asian countries to buy coal. They need energy -- China's economy is growing by 10% every year. They've determined that coal is the best choice for now, and this is somehow the US's fault?

        I'm not quite sure what you're calling bullshit about. Not everything the US does is necessarily bad.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by theVarangian (1948970)

          Everything I've seen says that natural gas is two to three times cleaner than coal. That's not "marginally" cleaner; it's a significant improvement, and it is clearly better for the environment than sticking with coal.

          Does that assessment include environmental damage caused by gas extraction with hydraulic fracturing?

          And the US isn't forcing Asian countries to buy coal. They need energy -- China's economy is growing by 10% every year. They've determined that coal is the best choice for now, and this is somehow the US's fault? I'm not quite sure what you're calling bullshit about. Not everything the US does is necessarily bad.

          Calling bullshit about it being an improvement to switch to natural gas, extracted by hydraulic fracturing then turning around and selling coal to China and going on about how you are doing wonders for the environment. If the US was serious about this they'd close down the coal mines. I refer you to TFA (And keep in mind that his primary research question was: Has US Shale Gas Reduced CO2 Emissions?

          There has been a substantial increase in coal exports from the US over this time period (2008-2011) and globally, coal consumption has continued to rise. As we discussed in our previous report (Broderick et al. 2011), without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions. For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely; in effect displaced coal must stay in the ground.

          • by khallow (566160) on Monday March 18, 2013 @09:25AM (#43202833)

            Does that assessment include environmental damage caused by gas extraction with hydraulic fracturing?

            Compared to strip mining of coal? That might make the difference even more pronounced.

            Calling bullshit about it being an improvement to switch to natural gas, extracted by hydraulic fracturing then turning around and selling coal to China and going on about how you are doing wonders for the environment. If the US was serious about this they'd close down the coal mines. I refer you to TFA (And keep in mind that his primary research question was: Has US Shale Gas Reduced CO2 Emissions?

            China will burn coal anyway. Might as well be US coal.

            There has been a substantial increase in coal exports from the US over this time period (2008-2011) and globally, coal consumption has continued to rise. As we discussed in our previous report (Broderick et al. 2011), without a meaningful cap on global carbon emissions, the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions. For this not to be the case, consumption of displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely; in effect displaced coal must stay in the ground.

            In effect, the author is saying that shale gas reduced carbon dioxide emissions, but someone is still burning US coal. And how can the author claim that shale coal probably will increase total emissions, when it didn't? You really have to wonder when propaganda manages to find its way into the abstract for a research article.

          • Does that assessment include environmental damage caused by gas extraction with hydraulic fracturing?

            As opposed to mountain top removal? You be the judge of that.

  • 3rd world countries get a pass on pollution thanks to the Kyoto Treaty, the pollution isn't really happening.

    Meanwhile my electric bill keeps going up.
    Thanks US Gov't!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The US Gov't did not sign the Kyoto treaty...

  • Trade Embargos (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SirDrinksAlot (226001) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:03AM (#43202267) Journal

    US: Can I get some sweet sweet rare earth metals over here?
    China: No you cant have our natural resources.
    China: Give us your sweet sweet COAL!!!!!!!
    US: Here ya go!

    Open markets are amusing. They'll deal with anyone including the ones who won't share their toys.

    And "all that exported coal could erase fully half the gains" Sex panther, 60% of the time it works EVERY time.

    • Rare earths are – well – rare. (Well, not really – but they are tricky to mine and refine.) Coal is plentiful and easy to mine.

      It’s called market structure, not comedy.

      • The coal they're interested in is not for energy (tho that's an extra benefit that the waste energy is used for) it's for steel smelting. High carbon coal as clean as it is in the US to make really high quality steel is pretty difficult to come by otherwise they'd be just digging up their own. So IMO it's the same thing.

        • They are interested in both.

          IIRC the number of steel mills that China is building has leveed off, but they do need to import much of the raw materials – such as metallurgical coal – which is referred to in the summary. However, they are also investing a lot in electric power production and they are favoring coal plants over gas plants.

          Now, I am not sure of the breakdown between US, Australian, and Chinese coal that is going into power production – but I do know that China is increasing it

    • mod parent up due to Sex Panther reference!
  • US coal exports to China were on track to double last year and demand for US metallurgical coal, the high-heat content coking coal that is used for steelmaking, is so great in Asia that shipments make a round-the-world journey from Appalachia as they are sent by train to the port of Baltimore, where they steam to sea through the Chesapeake Bay, then south across the Atlantic Ocean and around Africa's Cape of Good Hope to reach Asian ports.

    All I can say is WOW! Does anybody remember the times when the industrial west was importing cheap raw materials from third world countries to support its manufacturing?

    • by jythie (914043) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:51AM (#43202557)
      That was generally Europe. The US has always been a net exporter of many raw materials. Compared to other 1st world nations we have a huge amount of land and the (relatively untapped) resources that came with that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sentrion (964745)

      All I can say is WOW! Does anybody remember the times when the industrial west was importing cheap raw materials from third world countries to support its manufacturing?

      Exactly. The world has changed. Wealthy business owners and the wealthy executives who manage those businesses have figured out that they really don't need the American middle class or working class to sustain their wealth creating machine. In America manufacturers had to comply with a mountain of OHSA regulations, environmental regulations, labor laws that affect how many hours you can drive a worker, and how much you can pay them. Then they figured out that if they moved their operations to totalitari

  • by Isca (550291) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:09AM (#43202331)
    It's not being used for electricity. We hardly make any steel here anymore. Most of it is made in Asia anymore. We have the infrastructure to mine it and ship it out. If it wasn't done here it would be done elsewhere at a slightly higher cost. It has nothing to do with electrical production, it's not used for that. In fact, it's almost twice the cost of other coal per ton so no one would WANT to use it.
    • Yes, I noticed this as well, and it makes the summary rather misleading.

      I think there is a concern with "pollution outsourcing", where countries claim to be getting cleaner but they do it just by outsourcing the polluting activities, rather than cleaning them up. This is the case with some European manufacturing firms, for example, which claim to be green... if you only count their within-EU manufacturing activities. You could imagine a similar shift where U.S. energy production gets cleaner just by moving the pollution around, so the same coal gets burned for power, just elsewhere. Then it would be legitimate to question whether there are any real environmental gains happening in such a scenario.

      But what's happening here is a little different. It's not economically sensible to ship regular, lower-grade coal for producing electricity all around the world. Coal is extremely bulky and the value per ton of low-grade coal is so low that it doesn't pay off to ship it to China. Especially when China has plenty of its own low-grade coal. What does make economic sense to ship is high-end coal for metallurgy, which is more of a specialty material.

    • It's not being used for electricity. We hardly make any steel here anymore. Most of it is made in Asia anymore.

      About half of world steel production is in Asia, some 11% in the NAFTA area, the rest is made in Europe and Russia with miscellaneous other sources making up the remaining 8%.

    • It's not being used for electricity. We hardly make any steel here anymore.

      We made a million tons of steel last week... 18 million tons year-to-date. In 2012, we made 5.7% of the worlds steel (88 million tons) - putting us in third place (behind China and Japan) overall. The only European country in the top ten is Germany - which clocks in at #7 with approximately 2%. (Most of the worlds steel is made in Asia and Russia/CIS.)
       
      So, yeah, US steel production is a long way down from it's peak, but it's gross ignorance to say we make 'hardly any'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:21AM (#43202405)

    The US drop is because of the drop in Nat Gas prices, not wind turbines or Solar, etc.

    Both Germany and Denmark have installed many times the $ investment per capita in 'green' energy that the US has done, to no effect. In fact Germany is increasing coal consumption and moving to coal based electricity. In short the green energy revolution has failed, where a simple price change on gas has worked.

    Pollution is caused by the burners, not the diggers. You can bet that US coal is extracted in a safer, cleaner way than almost all other coal on the planet. If coal is to be burned, then US coal is the best way to do it.

  • Kyoto and CAGW are scams that fueled riches for Soros, fat Al Gore and their private jets. In 2020 we're going to be hitting some really cold weather. Didn't you get the memo?
    • by kpoole55 (1102793)

      Are you speaking metaphorically or is this an actual climate prediction? I'd like to see the note.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        There's a well known sixty-year temperature cycle, and we're into the cold half right now. So the odds are pretty good that 2020 will be significantly colder than today.

  • Energy exports (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:58AM (#43202595) Homepage Journal

    USA is exporting energy sources now, so it's exporting oil (refined, gasoline even), coal. While overall production of energy resources in USA is up and the demand is probably lowest in at least a decade because of the dying economy, the prices are also up and while this may seem as a paradox, it's not. It's inflation. Here is what is going to happen if China lets its currency float: renminbi will rise in USD terms and for the Chinese producers and consumers the prices for raw materials, energy and food will drop in their currency and in dollar terms they will rise. So for Americans (and Europeans) it will be increasingly more expensive to buy energy and food and but these resources will be cheaper and cheaper for the Chinese to acquire in the global market.

    By the way that's the reason that I was always saying that the Japanese should not devalue their currency, but especially after the tsunami hit and their nuclear power plants were shut down - this only hurts the Japanese as they have to pay higher prices for energy and materials in real terms.

    But don't become too excited about the USA having 'shifted its pollution elsewhere', here is the eventuality that is not understood in this by the majority: there is no difference between a pre-industrial economy and a post-industrial one. This concerns everything, from education levels to types of energy used. USA will be exporting high value energy sources and will be using much more polluting energy sources eventually if it doesn't turn around and let the markets work rather than thinking that the government will fix the economic problems that the government has created with all the taxes, regulations, money printing.

    Basically this is a temporary effect that the pollution has gone somewhere else, because the production has gone there as well. But as the production goes, so does energy use but also so does value of the money (especially if you keep printing it).

    The pollution will return in huge volumes to USA as it will have to re-industrialise, but now it will have to start from nothing again, there is no manufacturing. So there are no modern efficient factories, so much cheaper, less efficient means will be used for everything, from manufacturing to heating your houses and food.

    The pollution will come back once the inflation comes out and kills the bonds and the dollar. For now the Americans should be happy that the current European problems are on the front pages of all the news stories. Those problems are immediate, but they are nowhere as big as the American story.

    • The US GDP has not dropped 8%. In fact except for a short dip during the past recession ago it has been increasing at a couple of percent per year. And yes that's inflation adjusted.

      http://www.supportingevidence.com/Government/US_GDP_over_time.html [supportingevidence.com]

      The reason greenhouse gas emissions are down is the cost of energy has been increasing, triggering conservation, and the low cost of natural gas has caused conversions from higher carbon density fuels.

    • US manufacturing is doing fine. What isn't 'doing fine' is blue collar manufacturing jobs.

      The Chinese currency won't 'float' all at once. It will be devalued a step at a time.

      To use a computer analogy the USA's and China's economies are deadlocked. The USA 'needs' Chinese production. China needs USA markets and needs their American holdings to keep their value (or Chinese banks will fail). Moving the currency peg slow and steady is the only solution. Eventually it will have to float.

      Intervention has

  • When Chinese industries burn coal without all of the scrubbers on the smoke stacks, huge amounts of solid particulates, are released into the atmosphere. This will in turn block more sunlight from reaching the surface, thus contributing a cooling effect.

    • Maybe. IIRC CO2 released into the atmosphere tends to remain a lot longer than the cooling effect of soot.

      Plus – well – is that even a solution? Soot acid rain, lung disease, etc. Not sure if the pluses outweigh the minuses.

  • If USA did not sell the coal to China, then China will get it elsewhere. Simple as that. It is almost silly that this is being brought up. The ones to knock on this is NOT USA, but China. They are the ones that are demanding it. The advantage of getting it from USA, is that the coal is cleaner than it would be elsewhere.

That does not compute.

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