Most people don’t have a positive association with China. We hear China, and we think about sweatshops and baby girls being put up for adoption. We think of communism.
A few years ago when I worked in retail, it wasn’t uncommon for people to ask me if the products they were interested in were made in China. There is even a petition to congress to officially boycott products from being imported from China to the United States.
So what could possibly have me admiring their government?
Let’s go back to 1949. China had just become a communist country, and one of the first reforms was the energy reform. This was known as the “Soviet Style” energy reform. It dropped the prices of electricity but it was formed with no concern for the environment. It resulted in one of the fastest growing but least-efficient energy systems in history.
Fast forward to 1980, when more than 100 energy experts met to discuss the horribly inefficient energy plan, and called for a massive rehaul of the energy industry. However, even with their reforms, the demand for energy was growing faster than they could produce it. In an attempt to remedy this situation, China was building 2 coal-run power plants per week.
This led to so much pollution that China become encompassed by a dense smog. So dense in fact, it could be seen from space.
People could not go outside without respiration masks, and even then the number of people being admitted to the hospital with respiratory disease increased. In 2015, there were approximately 700,000 Chinese citizens diagnosed with lung cancer, and that rate is expected to increase to 800,000 per year by 2020 if the situation is not adressed.
So what is China doing to amend this situation?
They’re going solar. in 2016, they doubled their solar capacity and installed more solar panels than any other country on Earth. They are now the largest solar energy producer by capacity, and they are closing hundreds of coal-powered energy plants every year.
Not only is China working towards fixing their own environmental problems, but they are working with their neighbors in Russia, South Korea, and Japan to build a solar-powered “super-grid” that could provide clean energy to most of Asia.
This brings me to my summary point- The United States is planning on revolutionizing their energy industry by utilizing offshore drilling and “clean-coal energy”, which while being significantly less damaging than burning coal, is still not the most efficient or environmental-conscious source available. Some may argue that we aren’t as bad off as China, that our cities aren’t engulfed in smog, and therefore it isn’t a problem worth worrying about yet. But facts are facts, and the facts are the the U.S. was the second largest producer of CO2 emissions in the world- right behind China.
We may not be able to control what our government decides to do as far as federal energy generation, but we can absolutely decide to make the difference for ourselves. Solar energy is affordable, available, and responsible.
If you have questions about Solar Energy, or for information about how you can make the switch, click here.