China’s population is mainly rural, and if that population realises its full potential for consumption, we will have no way to control the continually increasing greenhouse-gas emissions. Many wealthy farmers already are using energy-hungry appliances such as air-conditioners, refrigerators and microwave ovens, as well as coal for heating and cooking. Yet, they ignore the traditional bioenergy sources at their doorsteps — like straw – by simply burning them off in the fields.
So what if the millions of villages in China were mobilised? For answers, let us look at the experimental data collected by the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shandong Agricultural University.
[…] Solving the energy crisis will require a multi-pronged approach. Reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels must include our rural residents. Chinese policies should encourage them to use the energy sources naturally available rather than force rural locations to compete with cities and industry for fossil fuels. If China pays some attention to rural energy and makes full use of biological converters such as cows, sheep and methanogenic bacteria, 700 million tonnes of straw can be converted to energy and high-quality fertiliser.