China's Staggering Transportation Growth China's Staggering Transportation Growth
Communities

China's Staggering Transportation Growth

by Andrew Price

January 16, 2010
You've probably heard that China is growing quickly, but have you seen the graphs? The Oil Drum's Stuart Staniford picked through data from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics to pull together a staggering picture of the scale of growth of transportation in China.Here is a chart showing the explosion of car ownership:
And here's a chart showing the growth of railroads versus the growth of big "freeway-equivalent roads":
These are China's "official" numbers-which, of course, makes them suspect-but they're staggering and the truth isn't going to be too far off.Staniford's conclusion:
The world has never seen anything like this Chinese industrial machine. In summary, if present trends continue, the Chinese expressway system will likely grow larger than the US interstate highway system within the next couple of years, and Chinese car ownership will exceed US car ownership by somewhere in the neighborhood of 2017. So while the al-Shahristani plan for Iraqi oil production seems like it aims for an extraordinary increase in oil production in a hurry, it's not at all hard to see where all that oil can go. Oversimplifying greatly, it's as though the US borrowed a pile of money from China in order to fight a war to free up oil supply in Iraq in order that China could become the greatest industrial power the world has ever seen.
It's true that China is the leading producer of solar power and hydroelectric power, is rapidly taking the lead in solar power, and is out-investing us in a smart grid. But the thing is: China is big enough to both lead in clean energy and be a total environmental disaster at the same time.
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China's Staggering Transportation Growth