Co-existence and Coal

Co-existence and Coal

I got most of the information in this article from a New York Times video ‘The Chinese co-exist with Coal’.

The Chinese government has built tens of thousands of apartment buildings in western China. They are massive and they look alike. They exclusively house people who work a huge mine nearby. Aerial clips reveal an ocean of homes for a lot of people.

Three-fourths of China’s electricity comes from coal. Their share of global carbon dioxide emissions is 28%.

Out on the range, in the middle of coal country, the people understandably don’t want their lifestyle to change. They make a lot of money. All of the housing is free. Free!

But the Chinese have a relative freedom of speech now, and they’re consumers of information. Some, or many of them get the deal about their country’s pollution. They also know that existing transport infrastructures can’t keep up with demand. Most of the mines are in the far northern and western regions and the  fuel has to be transported thousands of miles to the factories and population centers in eastern China. The trans-national highways can’t handle the swollen traffic in populated east China. Nightmare multi-hour traffic jams are common.

Has China ever been ahead of this energy need? The country has been growing like crazy for at least 30 years. Apparently they can’t keep up. It’s been a zany growth and many many many people are wealthy the world over because of it.

So why can’t they keep up?

I don’t know. It gives me a headache.

The gentlemanly Mr. Yi is  featured prominently in this video. He lives close to the huge mine. He speaks well for himself, holds up well against living next door to a small open pit mine. He’s an older man, a countryman native to these parts and he doesn’t work in the mines. He used to be a farmer, but there’s no land to farm anymore. He sees the bad and the good, and he’s straightforward about it. Most people are sick because of coal dust. But he is happy for the young people, who can dream now. The lines on his face tell a story of smiling and suffering.

The last piece of the video is of Mr. Yi going inside his home. We can only see the front – it is simple, shabby, well-mended. Vertical red and gold banners hang next to the front door.

I was flabbergasted when I saw the slow-pan video of the apartment complexes. It’s beyond anything I’ve seen in my life.

I can, however, relate to Mr. Yi.