Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coal Smog in China and Washington State

Smog over China (MODUS)

Events and decisions far from Washington State can have impacts on our landscape. What has been happening periodically in areas of China the last couple of years has consequences on an issue that is currently being hotly debated in Washington State.

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Air pollution from coal fired power plants was already influencing the coal market for Powder River Basin coal. The coal from the Powder River has lower thermal quality than many other coal sources; however, it also has less sulfur making it somewhat less polluting to the air. China has already recognized that high sulfur coal poses a problem and hence the demand for Powder River coal because most Chinese power plants have much less pollution control than U.S. coal power plants. In the U.S., coal power plants far from the coal fields generally (but not all) prefer higher thermal unit coal as sulfur scrubbers are in place.

Curious about Habin, the city shown in the BBC news, I took a Google Earth tour including a look back in time.

Habin 2002
Habin like many cities in China has undergone rapid growth. This is one example of a city rising up where only a decade ago was only a rural village. Besides the air pollution the new city encroaches well out onto what was clearly visible in the 2002 image as a flood plain and river meander area. 

1 comment:

Geoff said...

Great information and timely for Hamsters. The 10 year growth is amazing, not to mention how you can get historic photos inside China. Wonder if the party has a GMA?