Livestock pollution stays in U.S.; pork chops go to China. With its successful bid to purchase the U.S. pork giant Smithfield, which is pending U.S. governmental approval, China has revealed its major vulnerability—that of ...
In a stunning piece, Bloomberg details China's predicament as a coal/water dilemma. In order to continue its manufacturing miracle unabated, China must rely on the use of coal, its number one energy source. Coal requires a massive use of water both in mining and in burning. Coal industries and power stations use as much as 17 percent of China’s water.
About half of China’s rivers have dried up since 1990 and those that remain are mostly contaminated. Without enough water, coal can’t be mined, new power stations can’t run and the economy can’t grow. At least 80 percent of the nation’s coal comes from regions where the United Nations says water supplies are either “stressed” or in “absolute scarcity.”
China has about 1,730 cubic meters of fresh water per person, close to the 1,700 cubic meter-level the UN deems “stressed.” The situation is worse in the north, where half China’s people, most of its coal and only 20 percent of its water are located.