As the United States has outsourced its industrial base to China over the last two decades, millions of manufacturing jobs have disappeared. But the trend has also allowed us to shed a lot of unpleasantness: industrial waste, air pollution, etc.
The move also eased the burden on our electrical grid. The energy needed to produce clothes, electrical gadgets, industrial equipment, etc. no longer comes from our power generators.
But greenhouse gases are a fungible substance; coal emissions in China trap just as much heat as emissions in Youngstown, Ohio. And the hazards and environmental devastation of coal mining merely shift. We should think about the shelves groaning with stuff at our superstores every time we hear stories like this one:
Nine miners were killed and another five were missing after an explosion in an illegally operating Chinese coal mine brought down an estimated 100 tonnes of coal … China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, has the world’s deadliest mining industry. It has been battling to improve standards in its mines, but accidents are common as owners push production beyond safety limits to meet robust demand to fuel the country’s economic boom.