In the last few years, it has become quite obvious to me we're not going to ever run out of carbon before we, say, octuple (or more) the CO2 in the atmosphere. And the technology to get these fossil fuel sources improves just about as fast as other energy technologies (and sometimes faster). We have to rely on measures other than scarcity if we want to keep our atmospheric CO2 levels anywhere even remotely similar to what homo sapiens have experienced since we've been a species.
Consider that those coal plants could run for 40 years, it's probably better if those new plants were CCGT rather than coal.
Which would you prefer?
In the concrete, how viable is that technology? How efficient is it? How much of a hydrogen based energy storage infrastructure do we have to leverage for that?
Incidentally, it's not the first time methane clathrates have been used as cover for military purposes. The CIA-funded Glomar Explorer was nominally built for clathrate mining; in fact it was a recovery vessel for a sunken Soviet submarine.
Manganese nodules, actually.
I doubt that's much of a net PR win, because either way they would be facing the same charge of trying to claim territory that doesn't belong to them.
They don't have to make the charge go away, they just need to FUD it.
I'll never understand French Polynesia or the Falkland Islands, but there you go.
The truth is not as simple as the western media makes it out to be. Between the US and China there are more than 40 countries in CO2 emissions per capita. In other words, one of the least responsible countries is the US (If you took a province of China with 200 million inhabitants, it would be an extremely responsible country compared to a country of similar size. Per capita, it sits right next to Iceland at around 6 tonnes of CO2/person)
China is also the number one investor in renewable energy (more than double what the US is investing). Per capita, they are similar players with the US ahead. 
So it all depends on how you slice your data. Objectively it's easy to say that China is one of the most responsible countries in terms of global warming. Now whether it's just a matter of poverty and whether their growth strategy involves "de-carbonizing" de economy ... it's hard to say.
However, taping the clathrates without capture sounds like sucide.
China has an energy problem if it wants to continue to grow it needs to increase its energy production by a steep factor.
It has a growing working and middle class that wants refrigerators and air conditioners.
It still has half a million households had are not connected to electricity and many many more that are not connected to other utilities such as sewage.
China is investing in every energy solution it can because it's in a desperate need of more juice.
US is 80th, not great but there's really no comparison to Chian. For rich country comparison, UK is 22nd and France is 9th.
This is true, but one should take into account that US's and most of the developed world economy has shifted into services and intellectual or branding schemes, exporting the dirty job of manufacturing to China.
It would be really surprising if that was not the case.
Well, not useless I guess, considering it is propaganda.
Having such an enormous population and population density relative to Western countries is irresponsible. I don't agree that you can just divide by population and say they're fine.
* Italy: 197 people/sq mile
* Spain: 210 people/sq mile
* Germany: 235 people/sq mile
* Belgium: 343 people/sq mile
* United Kingdom: 650 people/sq mile
Yeah, their density compared to Western countries is truly irresponsible.
But GP has a valid point in pointing out that it's not reasonable to compare the entirety of a rich developed country to a low-density slice of China, which is very likely using fewer resources because of scarcity and underdevelopment rather than greater than average responsibility.
Similarly if I have 10 kids instead of 2.
Anyways, I should have said "was irresponsible" since those decisions were made by their ancestors a while back and so there's not much more they can do about it now.
Plus, you cannot just bash Chinese government of killing baby, while at the same time calling them environmental irresponsible...
CO2 output per country is not a reasonable metric. If we just split China into its provinces, does that make the problem go away? After all, each of the new countries now has a pretty small CO2 output.
To make a very crude approximation, terrestrial emissions sinks scale proportionally with area. (Slightly less crude: sinks scale with forested area.) Generally speaking, countries need to have low emissions per unit area to be sustainable. Having low emissions per-capita but a high population density is no more sustainable than low population density and high emissions per-capita.
China has land area of 9328246 km^2 and emitted 10641789000 tons of CO2 in 2015: that's 1141 tons/km^2/year
USA has 9147590 km^2 land area and emitted 5172338000 tons CO2: 565 tons/km^2/year
Canada has 9093507 km^2 land area and emitted 555401000 tons CO2: 61 tons/km^2/year
EDIT: this was not intended to show China as "the worst." Belgium, for example, emits 3324 tons/km^2/year.
On one hand this leads to philosophical issues of justice like "luck egalitarianism": is it fair that Canadians, by accident of birth, have so much more headroom to emit sustainably than people born to the south or east of them? (Is it fair that any nation's citizens enjoy advantages from their own country's natural resources? I tend to think "yes, it's fair enough" but people may reasonably disagree.)
On the other hand, the pragmatic issue is that most countries are emitting CO2 faster than their geographic area can sink those same emissions. Certainly the largest political blocs are emitting unsustainably. The object of measuring emissions is ultimately to control them, not just to identify the party that deserves the loudest booing while we wreck the climate together. The USA, China, India, EU: none of them is "fine" and all need to make significant progress before their emissions are balanced with their sinks. (Not all of the effort needs to be on abating sources, though that's where the low hanging fruit is right now. Increasing sinking rates with afforestation, promoting soil carbon stores, and/or silicate weathering are also viable options.)
Otherwise, the numbers don't make sense: China wouldn't release that much CO2 if nobody would import from China.
Of course Chinese factories may decline to voluntarily erode one of their cost advantages by bringing environmental standards up to parity with e.g. the EU, and in that case I think that the EU should use tariffs to ensure that imports don't get a competitive price advantage by way of externalized environmental damage. But that's somewhat different from believing that shoppers buying imports are really the responsible party when it comes to pollution generated by those goods' production.
Slightly more sophisticated movie plot: Market forces accomplish basically the same thing over the period of a few decades, which still results in a runaway positive feedback loop causing more methane hydrates to release, making it warmer, etc.
This narrative is getting more obsolete each day. Compare the recent changes in the Trump administration regarding climate change and environmental agencies with this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_China
Edit (for context, 2 days ago Trump said this):
I've loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn't do anything, that jobs were going down, we were losing business. We are loosening it up,...
As a westerner, you can only enjoy your 'environmentally-friendly' (It's really not) lifestyle, because you outsource all your manufacturing pollution to China.
If all the stuff you used were made domestically, your nation's carbon footprint would increase - massively. And China's would decrease.
The atmosphere doesn't care about these accounting tricks, though.
Why should we expect energy companies to be capable of this, given their environmental track records for other fuels?