I am very weary of the Green Crowd extolling China as a model or global responsibility. The NYT’s official “Davos columnist,” Thomas Friedman, is at it again. Today, he warns how China is leaping ahead in green technologies, which Friedman argues, we could top if only we would artificially raise our energy costs. Never mind that we would destroy our economy: Once prices went through the roof, we would have the incentive to become as virtuous as the ecologically correct Chinese. From his column:
I’ve been stunned to learn about the sheer volume of wind, solar, mass transit, nuclear and more efficient coal-burning projects that have sprouted in China in just the last year. Here’s e-mail from Bill Gross, who runs eSolar, a promising California solar-thermal start-up: On Saturday, in Beijing, said Gross, he announced “the biggest solar-thermal deal ever…China is being even more aggressive than the U.S. We applied for a [U.S. Department of Energy] loan for a 92 megawatt project in New Mexico, and in less time than it took them to do stage 1 of the application review, China signs, approves, and is ready to begin construction this year on a 20 times bigger project!”
Yes, climate change is a concern for Beijing, but more immediately China’s leaders know that their country is in the midst of the biggest migration of people from the countryside to urban centers in the history of mankind. This is creating a surge in energy demand, which China is determined to meet with cleaner, homegrown sources so that its future economy will be less vulnerable to supply shocks and so it doesn’t pollute itself to death…
Meanwhile, China last week tested the fastest bullet train in the world — 217 miles per hour — from Wuhan to Guangzhou [and] has nearly finished the construction of a high-speed rail route from Beijing to Shanghai at a cost of $23.5 billion. Trains will cover the 700-mile route in just five hours, compared with 12 hours today…China is also engaged in the world’s most rapid expansion of nuclear power. It is expected to build some 50 new nuclear reactors by 2020; the rest of the world combined might build 15.
Gee, I wonder why the Chinese can move so fast? Central planners don’t have to worry about what the locals think. They don’t have to worry about years and years and years of never ending environmental lawsuits and repeated impact reports. They don’t have to worry about pesky protesters, and police don’t have to worry about brutality charges and angry media exposes if protests do occur. They also don’t have to worry about the Chinese equivalents of snail darters or spotted owls. They don’t have judges issuing restraining orders against new building projects. They don’t have to worry about–well, you get the picture: It’s good to be king.
It really is nauseating that in their zeal and utopianism, effete Greens like Friedman overlook that China is a tyranny. And note, he no longer even cares that China destroyed Copenhagen. But when you are in love, you don’t see your paramour’s many failings amidst your besotted sighs. Friedman believes that Red China is now Green China, and nothing else much matters.