Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming

Less than three years ago, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA)

forecast that China would overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest polluter, but not

before 2025. More recently it said that China would be first by 2010. Now,

however, the growth of its economy (10 percent annually for the past three years

and now higher) and its underlying power sector are such, said Faith Birol, the

IEA’s chief economist, that the Chinese are expected to overtake the American’s

this year.

Industry, Sunset, Pollution, Dusk, Twilight, Smoke

China is the world’s biggest coal producer, burning over 2 billion

tones of coal per year. Sulphur dioxide and soot caused by coal combustion

results in acid rain, which falls on approximately 30 percent of China’s total land

area. Oil consumption in China has doubled in the past 20 years. Sixteen of the

world’s most air polluted cities are in China. —Michael McCarthy and Clifford

Coonan, “The Great Pall of China,” The Independent, April 25, 2007

Not only has the world population exploded, but also much of the third world is becoming

industrialized in an effort to become consumers just like the Americans.



This pressure of

growing population, industrialization, and ever-increasing consumption has resulted in

deforestation of roughly 50 percent of the world’s forests plus a skyrocketing injection of

greenhouse gases,” mostly in the form of carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere (see Figures 2-2

and 2-3).