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The Three Chinas - ( The growing energy use in the growing Global economy )
Watts Up With That? ^ | Posted on October 17, 2010 by thomaswfuller | Guest Post by Thomas Fuller

Posted on 10/20/2010 8:22:38 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

The choices we make about energy, the environment and climate will be limited by The Three Chinas.

The Real China

1. One of the Chinas is very real and familiar. It has a population of 1.4 billion.

2. China is developing quickly, trying to do in 50 years what America did in 100. As a result, they have doubled their energy use since 2000, becoming the largest energy user in the world.

3. China’s energy use may well double again by 2020. (The figures in the report did not match reality, but their estimate of 7.5% annual growth looks fairly okay).

4. Coal currently provides 70% of China’s energy. That may drop to 65% by 2020. It may not.

5. If China doubles its energy use (to 200 quads) and 65% of it comes from coal, that will be 130 quadrillion BTUs generated from burning coal, in China, in 2020.

6. China’s coal plants are much dirtier than those used in the developed world.

The Second China

This very real China will be replicated by the natural growth of the human population to 8.5 billion by 2035, and 9.1 billion at its peak later this century. That’s more than the entire population of China. As many of them will actually be born in China, and many more will form part of our third ‘imaginary’ China, it is appropriate to limit the Second China to the size of the real one.

7. Most of these new humans will be born into developing countries.

8. But these developing countries are, in fact, developing now. Their energy use is increasing dramatically–if not as dramatically as China’s. The Second China will spring forth from countries whose energy use is growing by 3.3% per year.

9. And although their use of coal is not as intense as China’s, their reliance on fossil fuels is fairly close (Fig. 2)

The Third China

While China is developing quickly, so is the rest of the developing world. As countries develop, the people living in them get richer. They buy cars, appliances, computers, and begin to use more energy. Again, to avoid double counting (China will be one of the countries talked about, and many of the new middle class will consist of people not yet born), it is correct to think of this as about the size of the current China.

10. Two billion people may join the middle class by 2030.

11. By 2050, countries which are now developing quickly will be called ‘middle-income’ and may account for 60% of GDP.

12. Goldman Sachs believes that China’s per capita income will be $50,000 in 2050 (p.5), and that their per capita GDP will be $70,000. But they also project that Turkey and Mexico will have higher incomes per capita, and that Brazil will almost match China.

13. Mexico currently consumes 69 million BTUs per person per year (Table 1.8). Their average income is $14,000. If their incomes triple, so will their energy usage. The same is true for Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines, China, India and more.


I have written here frequently that I believe current estimates of future energy consumption are flawed. I hope the information provided above shows why.  As I have written before, extending current consumption and development trends over a short period of time shows a doubling and perhaps a tripling of energy use over the medium term. That could see global demand for energy reaching 2,000 quads per year by 2035.

I do not know what the sensitivity of the atmosphere is to a doubling of concentrations of CO2 is, and despite pronouncements from partisans on either side of that argument, I don’t think anybody else knows, either.

I do not know what cycles of earth, moon, sun and stars will combine to push or pull global temperatures one way or another, and despite pronouncements from partisans on either side, I don’t think anybody else knows, either.

Recent human history makes it fairly easy to contemplate economic growth and energy usage for the very near future. It is an order of magnitude easier than trying to analyse the factors that influence the climate.

We do not have to guess about the effects of massive coal consumption by developing countries–we have our own history to guide us, from London in 1952 to Manchester a century before, from burning rivers in Ohio to dead lakes nearby.

Commenters to my recent pieces asked why I characterise our situation as an energy crisis. I have tried to provide an answer here. I’m happy to discuss this with any and all. Because I think this is a conversation we can have without referring to magical numbers and thinking, pixie dust or moonbeams.

I personally think that this level of intense development will indeed have an effect on our climate, due not only to CO2, but also deforestation, aquifer depletion and other factors described ably by Roger Pielke Sr. But I don’t know how much and I don’t know what percentages to assign to each.

So let’s talk about energy and why what is described above signals a crisis–or not.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Conspiracy; Science; Weather
KEYWORDS: china; energy; globalization; globalwarminghoax

1 posted on 10/20/2010 8:22:44 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: All
Excerpt comment from the discussion:


Stephen Brown says:

October 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm

One fact that you have not taken into account is China’s whole-hearted embrace of nuclear power. Daya Bay, see here for details ( ) was just the first of many more such plants planned and even now under construction.
China knows that the most viable option is nuclear power if it wants to provide for future growth. And that is just the route it has taken.
China will soon become the world’s leader in nuclear power generation. The coal that they have will be saved for other uses.

2 posted on 10/20/2010 8:25:02 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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Willis Eschenbach says:

October 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm

An excellent piece, Thomas. Perhaps this might help to put it into perspective:

As you have pointed out above, the action is all in the developing world.

3 posted on 10/20/2010 8:27:17 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: All
Meanwhile the "Global Warming is caused by CO2" climate scientists have released a new study....FR Thread:

Study: New Model Says that CO2 Levels Ultimately Control Earth's Temp. ( How about the Oceans ?)

This is from NASA's GISS Agency which is the fiefdom of James Hansen....Al Gore's buddy.

4 posted on 10/20/2010 8:30:53 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
More from the comments:


HR says:

October 17, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Would it be fair to say that commentators have been making predictions of an energy crisis for 40years or more? These people no doubt based their predictions on sound numbers. What makes the present day doom mongers any better at predicting the future? It strikes me that what is always left out of these calculations is the resiliance and ingenuity of H. sapiens.

On Willis’ graph in the first post does anybody have any comments on how productivity has shifted globally? Anybody have good links for a summary of globalisation of production, heavy industry etc. I’d like to be able to back up the follow statement. Most of the carbon increase in the developing world is still to produce products for consumption in the industrialized West.

Finally I’ve always thought spreading greater wealth as a good thing. Since when did this become seen primarily as a problem? I’d prefer to support greater wealth in resourse poor regions and then deal with any unwelcome side affects afterwards rather than buy into the idea that the planet can’t afford to see these people access what we already have.

5 posted on 10/20/2010 8:34:40 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: steelyourfaith; Tolerance Sucks Rocks; SunkenCiv; Paul Pierett; neverdem; I got the rope; ...


6 posted on 10/20/2010 8:43:24 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ( Support Geert Wilders)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; WL-law; bamahead; carolinablonde; SolitaryMan; rdl6989; livius; DollyCali; ...
Ernest_at_the_Beach Thanx !


Beam me to Planet Gore !

7 posted on 10/20/2010 9:19:13 AM PDT by steelyourfaith (ObamaCare Death Panels: a Final Solution to the looming Social Security crisis ?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I haven’t read the Comments from the article, but it is going to be quite interesting ...from a consumption perspective. As India and China develop frenetically, so do Russia and Brazil, so does Turkey and Viet Nam, the Asian Tigers and Tiger Cubs, and a good number of African countries (there are more people in the fastly growing middle class in sub-Saharan Africa than in India, one other reason why China is really focussing there apart from raw materials). Education is also rising in these areas, meaning an ever larger pool of (educated) and capable workers willing to compete with those from the developed world. The education in the top schools in these regions is quite good (I was born and raised in Kenya, only going to the US for my university - achieving a 3.96GPA was almost easy), and in some places like India it can get to world class (eg their IIT colleges roughly modeled on MIT). The edge the Developed World holds is innovation ...the moment that is given up (it has to be given up, since if the US keeps striving forth it would be VERY hard for it to be taken) then the edge will be significantly degraded. This is why the US needs real leadership. This is why Europe is awakening to the perils and folly of their past quasi-socialist mini/macro experiments. This is why Japan’s fate may be already sealed, mired in a demographic blackhole they will probably never get out of. The next 5 decades will either lead to a veritable utopia of development and technological advancement, or it will be quite bad. Real strong leadership will lead to the former, weakness and surrender of prime advantage will lead to the latter.

8 posted on 10/20/2010 9:25:32 AM PDT by spetznaz (Nuclear-tipped Ballistic Missiles: The Ultimate Phallic Symbol)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; AdmSmith; Arthur Wildfire! March; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Wow, thanks Ernest.

9 posted on 10/20/2010 11:14:55 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Questions that continued to be addressed with no satisfactory solutions available.

10 posted on 10/20/2010 6:05:36 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned....)
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