Global Giant pp 93-111 | Cite as

The Voracious Dragon: Environmental Implications of China’s Rising Energy Consumption

  • Kelly Sims Gallagher


How China could and might balance its voracious desire for energy services with the urgent need to protect the environment and public health, both of which are fundamental to human well-being, are two of the central questions regarding the rise of China in the twentieth century. In China, as is often the case elsewhere, human well-being rests on a foundation of three pillars: (1) economic conditions and processes, such as employment, income, wealth, markets, and trade; (2) socio-political conditions and processes, such as national and personal security, rule of law, justice, education, health care, the pursuit of sciences and the arts; and (3) environmental conditions and processes, such as air, water, soils, minerals, biota, and climate (Holdren 2008). Most of China’s most obvious and pressing environmental challenges—choking urban air pollution, acid rain, regional haze, and greenhouse gas emissions—come from current quantities and modes of coal consumption, which in turn are driven by China’s rapid economic development.


Gross Domestic Product Chinese Government Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Coal Price Sport Utility Vehicle 
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© Eva Paus, Penelope B. Prime, and Jon Western 2009

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  • Kelly Sims Gallagher

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