What About China?

Hi everybody, Thomas here.

Call it shameless cross promotional if you will, but I thought it would be a good way to start the week by introducing you all to the What About China? blog. The What About China? book was released in July this year and as we have done with this blog, we created the What About China? blog to provide further discussion and information online.

Your may be wondering what a title like What About China? is supposed to suggest. Well, the idea behind the book and the blog was that at the moment there are many awkward questions about climate change flying about and many people hide behind these questions to avoid taking responsibility by doing their bit. So we want to provide the answers to those questions in order to counter the excuses that people use to avoid reducing their carbon footprint.

One of the classic questions is “What is the point of doing anything about climate change, when China opens a new power station every week”. Hence, “What About China?” The answer to that question is actually quite simple and a little scary –

Three-quarters of global warming is due to the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) when fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – are burned. On average each person in the world is responsible for 4.6 tonnes a year. In Britain each person is responsible for 12 tonnes. A Chinese is below average at 4.2 tonnes (actually less, because many of the goods they make are exported so emissions should be counted as the responsibility of the country of destination) and an Indian is well below average at only 1.4 tonnes. An American is responsible for a whopping 20.2 tonnes (26 tonnes if you take into account the goods made abroad and imported). It would be reasonable for China to claim that its emissions per person should be allowed to rise in order to lift its struggling population out of poverty – particularly since the west has benefited from huge emissions over many years and is responsible for 80 per cent of the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Pretty sobering stuff hey? I’ve also heard that since the book has come out there is more recent research to suggest that people in Britain are actually responsible for more than 12 tonnes. You can find out more information about this topic in the book and also from this post

But it’s not all doom and gloom and there are many interesting and fun answers to some pretty curly questions. A favourite of mine is “Why is methane from cows such a problem? We all have to fart don’t we?” Yeah, I’m pretty easily amused.

Anyway, the answers to the various questions are provided by a panel of experts specialising in particular fields and you can even submit your own question. There’s plenty of rubbish related material too and this recent post looks at the issue of turning rubbish into fuel. 

Both What About China? and The Book of Rubbish Ideas are part of the Sawday’s Fragile Earth range of books so once you’re done exploring this blog why not pop over to the What About China? blog and have a look around.

Cheers, Thomas