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Misplaced resource: The transformation of straw from valued resource to waste in North China

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In recent years, because of the increasingly rapid pace of large-scale urbanisation and industrialisation in China, the energy structure of rural areas has radically changed. Bio-fuel, i.e., specifically straw, which was commonly used in traditional farming, has been replaced by fossil fuels due to their higher heating value; likewise, artificial feed and fertilisers are now widely utilised instead of straw. These transformations have brought about a radical change in rural energy patterns. One result is a large amount of surplus straw, which today is often burnt in order to clear the fields for the next crop, leading to a pervasive air pollution problem that affects both cities and countryside.
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Keywords: air pollution; energy cycle; fuel crisis; rural areas; straw-burning; urbanisation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2017

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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