Visualizing Asian energy consumption

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I’ve heard it many times before. Remarkable growth in Asia is leading to big increases in coal consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions. But I didn’t have a good sense of just how big that change has been until I saw this graphic from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Asia’s coal use was smaller than Europe’s in 1980. Now it dwarfs coal consumption even in North America, the world’s second-largest consumer.

Stunning – as a reflection of fossil fuel consumption, energy production. Without differentiating the portion of coal consumed as metallurgical versus thermal coal we’re still looking at enormous growth in industrial potential.

The concurrent pollution problems help to understand why China is fast becoming the world’s leading manufacturer of alternative energy devices. Their conversion rate to solar and wind power is close to first – though still behind Europe. They’re trying equally fast to catch up to and surpass nations like France in nuclear power generation. They have to. That burgeoning middle class is starting to make lifestyle demands to match their growing wealth and education.

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