China's ecological footprint
There is no getting around the fact that China's ecological footprint is huge, they are the world's biggest polluter and the second largest energy user. Of course they are also the world's most populous country so this is not a huge surprise. What is worrying however is the rapid growth of the ecological footprint that China is leaving. Forty years ago China was about the middle of the pack in terms of pollution and energy consumption. The current rate of growth is not sustainable so things are going to have to change.
Of course a big part of the reason that China has become such a large energy user and polluter is that they have been going through a period of rapid economic development. Since there is still a long way to go before China can be considered a full developed country the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. Something to keep in mind however is that although China does use a lot of energy and pollute more than any other country in the world on a per capita basis they are not that bad. China actually has a smaller per capita footprint than most western countries.
Of course the fact that the per capita footprint of China is still reasonable does not really do them any good. The simple fact is that the sheer number of people in China makes this a problem. The current situation is not sustainable if China were to become fully developed and the people in China were to live a lifestyle that is that same as people in the west lead there would not be enough energy resources on the plant to meet the demand. This is both a problem and an opportunity.
Clearly China cannot continue to develop in the way that it currently is, nor can it develop in the way that the western countries did, there simply aren't enough resources. However China also can't simply stop its development as there are till millions of people living in poverty. The result is that they are going to have to find a different way to meet their energy needs. Fortunately the Chinese government have realized this and have started to put a great deal of effort into alternative energy sources.
If China are able to reduce their ecological footprint through the use of alternative energy it will be a huge benefit for the world as a whole. Not only will it reduce China's footprint but it will also give other countries a way to develop without having to become major polluters. It may also force the technology that is developed onto the western nations and greatly reduce their footprints as well. That is the hope at least but it remains to be seen what will happen.