Subduing CO2 on the Sub-Continent

As I was looking around at articles on industrialization, the one that most caught my eye was on ‘Why India will never become an Industrialized Country’. The basic arguments in the post can be summarized as follows:

  • Some people are arguing that China and India will create so much CO2 that they will swamp efforts in other countries to reduce global CO2 levels
  • India won’t create as much CO2 because it doesn’t have coal deposits of the same size and quality as countries like China, the UK and the United States
  • Most pollution from India comes from cars and trucks, not heavy industry
  • India is more strongly effected by the effects of global warming because of how primary warming would effect crop growth
  • India also doesn’t have an abundance of cool water that can be used in steam engines, which are used to convert coal to electricity

Taken together, these arguments mean that India almost certainly won’t follow the same paths as other developing nations. The lack of coal means that it will have a very different route to industrializing that China does, for instance. India also has very strong reasons to try and reduce its own pollution so that it doesn’t choke and starve itself.

As I said, this is interesting and certainly a set of information that I hadn’t run across before. I wondered how broad statistics of CO2 creation back up the arguments presented here. According to data from the World Bank, India has doubled their CO2 emissions in the past 20 years. As recently as 2015, India’s emissions increased by more than 5%. India alone accounts for more than 6% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere. So regardless of whether or not India will industrialize in the same manner of other countries, it is still producing large amounts of CO2.

It’s intriguing that India’s pollution is tied to cars and trucks rather than heavy industry because that opens up the question of whether or not cleaner cars could make a difference. In the past few decades, there have been enormous advances in clean car technology in the west. If that technology could be implemented and maintained on a large scale in India, that would help enormously with CO2 creation and other pollution.

I also can’t help but wonder about other solutions to their problems. Can the large coastal populations get energy from solar farming over the India ocean? Can salt water be substituted for fresh water in electrical production? Can India skip a heavy industry model and modernize with a service or knowledge based economy?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but India will certainly be intriguing to watch over the next few decades.

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