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Fascinating account of China‘s scuttling of green goals and scapegoating of Western nations and Obama—and the world, as evidenced by Huff Post headlines, took the bait:
As recriminations fly post-Copenhagen, one writer offers a fly-on-the-wall account of how talks failed
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This is an amazing article! It is what I feared all along, but the graphic detail with which he tells it is really chilling.
Yes we need to continue to pressure our leaders to be effective moral leaders, but China presents a very serious challenge to any and all efforts on climate change.
I don't doubt any of these reports on China's performance at Copenhagen. But my strong impression is that China is way ahead of the U.S. in pursuing green technologies, both in research and implementation (millions and millions of solar-powered water heaters, for example.)
My most recent impressions come directly from Tom Friedman, as interviewed by Charlie Rose. According to Friedman, behind the bluster of its external political posture, China is quickly leaping ahead of everyone in developing green technologies, powered by its vast cash reserves and its ability to dictate policy from the top. He gave many specific examples. (see this interview at http://www.charlierose.com/ November 20, 2009).
I don't have any further knowledge to support this impression. Can someone else who knows the facts help us out here? I'd like to know if my impressions are right.
Here's an interesting factoid. In 2007 the U.S.' per capita CO2 emissions were 19.1 metric tons. China's was 4.6. India's 1.2. Brazil 2.1.
This doesn't change anything about what has been written here. After all, the earth couldn't care less about per capita numbers.
But it does at least help explain why China, India, and Brazil feel they are being cheated out of what the West has already grabbed for itself.
Thanks, ndsmith. I agree with all of your insightful comments above, except one.
I believe China is deeply concerned about climate change, just out of pure national self-interest. If the impact of climate change is as serious as we all know it is, then China, with the world's largest population, has the most to lose.
We have to be careful not to equate dictatorship with stupidity. China is taking the long view and positioning itself to come out on top 20 to 30 to 50 to100 years from now. They do care deeply about "going green", but I agree with you it's not out of altruism.
It's because they already understand, far better than the U.S. does, that it's absolutely required for their long term survival, and even for the long-term survival of the regime. (Meanwhile, much our government doesn't even acknowledge that there IS a climate change problem!) Let's see where China is compared to the U.S. on green energy and climate change 10-15 years from now.
(None of this is meant to condone the Chinese political system.)
Thanks for your very interesting response. We can agree to disagree on these things.
I don't see evidence that China's leaders don't care about the well-being of their people in general. Why else would they have worked so hard and largely successfully to vastly improve their health and standard of living. Compare China of today with 100 years ago, or to India. Even a purely self-interested economic model requires a healthy, productive resonably content population that isn't dragged down by the widespread poverty and natural disasters that climate change would cause.
Actions speak louder than words, and, in the case of long-term climate change and poverty, louder even than fairness, justice, and equality. Come to think of is, what is more unfair, unjust, and unequal that a disease ridden poverty-stricken population? China, for all its human rights abuses, has solved this most basic aspect of human justice in a way that many democracies, like India, have not.
This still does not condone the repressive Chinese political system. But if we're going to understand China, which, don't forget, is keeping the U.S. economically afloat by lending us vast amounts of money, we need to see things as they really are, not just through the lense of our superior political system and values, as important as they are.
Highly relevant article to conversation above, from the NYT:
China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy
Excellent article from Newsweek reinforcing and deepening all the points made above:
"China is Going Green"
Nice post. I can't help but feel like Obama's losing support even of his most left wing supporters. You really think he has what it takes to pull this energy initiative off?
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