China, as you would expect with all those people, is the world's biggest energy guzzler. They are also the world's biggest polluter.
Nothing wrong with being the biggest energy user, it would be elitist to declare a hard stop on air conditioners now that Chinese people can afford them, but with 75% of that energy coming from coal, which is cheap but dirtier than natural gas, they would like to see about ways to get cleaner. Solar is fine for selling to the West, who happily subsidize it to make Chinese companies rich, but for their own needs fracking is probably the way to go.
'Fracking' is short for using pressurized water mixed with chemicals to fracture soft shale deep underground and then pump out natural gas trapped inside. Thanks to fracking, and our keen economic policies which have relieved us of so many people driving to jobs, America is back at 1992 levels of CO2 emissions and coal usage is back at 1983 levels. That is a big environmental win, though environmentalists who used to love natural gas now hate it - and hydroelectric power too.
But China has a problem America does not have - a lack of water in the places where they can get natural gas. Fracking takes a lot of water, though that may be a technology issue rather than a resource one; semiconductor manufacturing used to waste huge quantities of water but as the demand for computers ramped up, so did recycling, and now TSMC and others are positively Muad' Dib-ish in their ability to recycle what used to be waste water.(1) That is an approach that may work in China as well.
Yang Fuqiang, with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Beijing, says they can avoid the controversy that America has because "Chinese environmental groups still don’t know much about the technology", but neither do American ones and that hasn't stopped anyone from claiming it leads to cancer and headaches and earthquakes and even the Earth deflating.
(1) It isn't just awesome corporate companies recycling water efficiently, you can do your part as well. This Raincatch coat created by design students Hyeona Yang and Joshua Noble transforms collected rain water into the purified drinking kind.
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