Dec. 2 (Foreign Policy/by Jonathan Watts): China recently overtook the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Coal mines are as much a part of China’s civilization as paddy fields. Mining and industry have been crucial in ensuring the longevity of the Middle Kingdom.
Collieries destroy arable land and grazing pastures, erode topsoil, worsen air and water pollution, increase levels of river sediment (raising the risk of floods), and accelerate deforestation (especially if the coal was used to make charcoal). The country’s most pressing environmental problems — acid rain, smog, lung disease, water contamination, loss of aquifers, and the filthy layer of black dust that has settled on many villages — can all be traced back in varying degrees to this single cause.
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