China now the world's top energy consumer (but the U.S. has become more energy efficient)

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Is there a green movement in China? Maybe there ought to be, considering the numbers that have just come out. China is now the planet’s number one consumer of energy, overtaking the U.S. in the process. But at the same time, the U.S. has improved its energy efficient more so than China, meaning that the U.S. can get the same amount of work done while consuming less, say, coal or oil.

The actual numbers are pretty impressive, particularly when you consider that a mere 10 years ago China was quite a bit behind the U.S.

China consumed some 2,252 millions tons of the oil equivalent of sources such as coal, nuclear power, natural gas, and hydropower. The U.S. consumed 4 percent less. These are numbers from last year, by the way.

But that’s where energy efficiency comes into play. Since the year 2000, the U.S. has increased its energy efficiency by about 2.5 percent annually. China? 1.8 percent. So not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Does this really mean anything to you? Eh, maybe. Certainly it’ll have implications for the world at large though. Now that China is the biggest consumer of energy, it alone is in the position to tell energy providers, “Look, we’re willing to pay X for Y units of energy.” If China’s X is bigger than the U.S.’s X, then we may be looking at a situation where energy prices will go up simply because “someone else” is willing to pay more.

Which could mean that all the factories that produce all the lovely electronic gizmos we talk about day in, day out, could see their costs of doing business go up. And who would make up the difference? Yes, you!

Then again, it could have the very opposite effect, and end up lowering prices.

Or, better yet, the Sun could explode, making all of this moot. Hard to run a factory without the Sun churning away out there.

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