Orbital View: About That Coal

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Turns out China was burning a lot more of it than everyone else thought.

The country has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government had previously disclosed, according to new data reported in The New York Times this week. China is already the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases from coal, but this increase alone “is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels,” the Times explained. And it complicates that whole global warming thing.

Here, the Port of Qinhuangdao, China’s largest coal shipping facility: