How China became a Global Winner

I nearly choked on my rice crispies when I read it. It was even more unbelievable than Cheryl Cole and her serial adulterer ex-husband getting back together. But then I remembered two recent items in the news:

(1) The quiet period that the sun is having means the world is actually cooling down, not warming up as all the doom-sayers predicted. [I could feel a corporate shudder going down the spine of the climate-change gurus.]

(2) Britain just had a visit from the Chinese Premier.  (Shown here smiling, and no wonder!)

And then the bizarre news story that I’d just read fell neatly into place:

“Sulphur from Chinese power stations ‘masking’ climate change”

“The huge increase in coal-fired power stations in China has masked the impact of global warming in the last decade because of the COOLING effect of their sulphur emissions, new research has revealed.”

Hang on a mo. What did I just read? Coal-fired power stations actually have a COOLING effect on the environment? So WHY in the name of all that’s sane, are we closing down Europe’s coal-fired power stations? Come on, stop nagging about (gasp) FOSSIL FUELS like they are the spawn of the devil; let’s solve our looming energy crisis, open up the mines again, repair the ailing power stations, burn coal like there’s no tomorrow and heal the planet at the same time. However, as always there’s a downside…

The report continues: “…But scientists warn that rapid warming is likely to RESUME when the short-lived sulphur pollution – which also causes acid rain – is cleaned up and the full heating effect of long-lived carbon dioxide is felt.

“Within the last decade” (the one they told us would result in doom and disaster, remember?) “global surface temperatures DID NOT not show a rising trend, leading some to question whether climate change had stopped.”

(PANIC!!! Maybe the hockey-stick chart really IS a scam and all the nagging to wash clothes in cold water and recycle envelopes was in vain?? Surely not?)

“The new study shows that while greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise, their warming effect on the climate was OFFSET by the COOLING produced by the rise in sulphur pollution. This combined with the sun entering a less intense part of its 11-year cycle and the peaking of the El Niño climate warming phenomenon.”

“Michael E Mann, at Pennsylvania State University and not part of the research team, said the study was “a very solid, careful statistical analysis” which… demonstrated that “the claim that ‘global warming has stopped’ is simply false.””

AHA!! That’s number (1) scary news story laid to rest, then. Phew. Although the earth is cooling down, the global warming evangelism isn’t false, because all the sulphur that we tried to prevent in fact has had the opposite effect than it was believed a few years ago. A triumph of getting it completely WRONG and still coming out on top. Don’t you admire their skill?

Before we move on to scary news story number (2) – did you notice one little factoid that could have been passed over? Sulphur emissions “cause acid rain”. Hmmm… well I recall the brainless idea that was mooted last year of cooling the planet by pumping huge amounts of that very same sulphur into the atmosphere! The same substance that in their own words, “causes acid rain”.

(** Please, I beg you to read this article so you know I’m not exaggerating. I don’t think any amount of exaggeration could come near the truth.)

The report continues: “The cooling effect of sulphur pollution on climate has long been recognised by scientists studying volcanic eruptions, which have, for example, caused failed crops and famines in the past.” (oh, lovely) “Sulphur dioxide forms droplets of sulphuric acid in the stratosphere, which increases the reflection of the Sun’s heat back to space, cooling the Earth’s surface.”

Which would YOU prefer – a suphurous environment with permanently hazy skies, corrosive rain, dying vegetation and crops, starving animals, polluted lakes and seas, all in the name of “saving the planet”;  OR continuing to live with the increasingly unsustainable threat that some day the earth might warm up a couple of degrees, as it has done many times in the past.

Now, China…

For so many years, China has been the bad boy. Forget human rights, forget the communist dictatorship, the REALLY bad thing about China (according to the experts) was its refusal to cowtow to the demands of the Greenies, and cripple its own industry for the sake of the environment. After all, Europe’s done it and now is the envy of the world for being unable to meet its own energy demands, and creating the highest unemployment and financial defecit ever.  So why shouldn’t other countries follow suit?

But there is a solution: “China  is ready to help European countries achieve a stable economic growth.”  When Chinese premier Wen Jiabao arrived, he promised to offer Europe a helping hand with its debt crisis, prop up the faltering Euro, buy Spain’s debt, support European trade and industry and assist Europe in the Middle East crisis as well.

So now China is NOT the biggest polluter of the skies, it’s a world saviour instead. It’s managed to avoid cutting carbon emissions, defy the Kyoto Protocol, and still come out a winner.

Yet a few short years ago things were very different. In 2005, The Grauniad printed an alarmist piece (written by the BBC Newsnight science editor) about China’s coal-fired power stations that said:

“Eighty per cent of China’s electricity comes from coal, yet coal is a prime source of carbon dioxide – the global warming gas. If the power plants go ahead, it will be all but impossible to avoid dangerous climate change….

“China wants to be seen as a vibrant, go-ahead nation. It’s tearing down the Hutong courtyard homes of Beijing’s poorest, eager to banish their “Dickensian” alleyways. In their place come modern flats and all the energy-guzzling domestic appliances that go in them.”  Pan Juihua, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:  “When you have many problems you have to prioritise. When you have poverty you have to tackle poverty first.”

Quite so. Chinese people apparently hanker for a nice modern centrally-heated apartment instead of a rat-infested hovel and who can blame them?

The Science Editor comments: “Nearly 80% of China’s electricity comes from coal. That’s twice the average, worldwide. And for the time being, as the demand for power grows, this means one thing – more emissions of climate-changing gases.”

China replies that, “We are a country with a lot of coal, very little oil and very little gas. The development of coal is the basis of the development of the country. There is no way that we can replace our production of coal or use alternative sources of energy to totally replace it.”

(Why not just close down all your coal mines  and decommission your nuclear plants as Germany has decided to do.  They too have “no alternative source of energy”, but it didn’t stop them. They lead the way in closing their eyes and ears to the facts.)

But the wise editor at the Beeb in 2005 continues to warn that “What China does now will decide how much damage it causes the world’s atmosphere. If it builds these coal-fired power stations it will push carbon dioxide concentrations right up to the 400 parts per million level at which scientists expect dangerous climate change.”


How wrong could you be, dear Science Editor? If you listen to the news reports today, it seems plain that burning coal was the answer after all, not only for the wealth and comfort of China (now in a position to bankroll the rest of us who did our bit for the environment) but they have staved off global warming for the forseeable future.

That is, if you believe everything you read.

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