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Sierra Daily

Dec 04, 2012

Charts, Graphs, Cough

Coal plant The weekly journal Nature offers an illuminating interactive graphic that shows which countries were using the greatest amounts of coal, oil, gas, nuclear power, and hydropower/renewable energy in 2011.  Few surprises here: The fossil-fuel waste-off in coal and oil is a contest between the U.S., China, and India. (In gas use, the U.S. outpaces Russia and Iran.)

China’s 2011 coal consumption was startling: a massive 1839 million tons of “oil equivalent,” according to Nature. That’s more than three times what the U.S. used. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012 (whose data Nature used for its interactive graphic), world energy consumption is up 2.5 percent, China’s energy use is up 71 percent, and China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest power generator. Such profligacy has led to contentious discussions at United Nations climate talks now under way in Qatar over the responsibility that rapidly industrializing like China and India should bear in reducing global carbon emissions.

On the less depressing side of the ledger: Leaders in hydropower and renewables were China, the U.S., and Brazil.

Image by iStock/hh5800.

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term.  For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”


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